It was John who broke the silence first. "We need to take care of his injuries before they get infected," he said quietly, his voice void of any real emotion, and Sam sure as hell wasn't going to look at him to see what his face held. He had a fairly good idea.
Sam pressed his hands to the floor to lift himself up, and was told immediately by his chest how bad an idea that was. He bit his bottom lip and forced himself up anyways, his arms shaking from pain and exertion before he'd even gotten his feet flat on the floor to stand.
Strong hands grabbed his arm and carefully circled around his chest before pulling him up fast enough to make him gasp and try to steady his vision. "Quit trying to be a macho pain in the ass," Dean muttered. "You took a wallop."
"No kidding," Sam replied softly. He continued to keep his gaze down on his feet as they moved him to the bed. He could see John's hand just above his waist, and Dean's hands he could feel on his shoulders. He was surprised they were still helping him out after the recent revelation, that he'd caused all this grief and stress on their part. Typical Winchester fashion dictated that they'd both help him up, make sure he was standing on his own two feet, then hit him with angry shouts.
But there were only two gentle grips helping him onto the bed, where he sat at the edge and took a deep breath to settle his stomach. Two pills appeared along with a glass of water a moment later, and he nodded his thanks before swallowing them down. It was nice to be able to touch things again. It was nice to be able to sit on the bed again, instead of the floor. He reached his hand out and felt the comforter beneath his fingers, a little rough on this side, but still touchable.
"Why'd you drop the pen earlier?" Dean asked, and the question almost made Sam turn his gaze to where he knew John and Dean were standing. He got as far as lifting his head, before he turned back away to watch his fingers skim over the comforter.
"It was taking pretty much all of my energy to hold it," Sam told them. "To hold anything. Everything I touched and held drained me. It was...it was creepy. If you hadn't opened the door yesterday to look outside, I probably wouldn't have gotten in."
"You grabbed the chair earlier, then," Dean continued. Sam nodded, his fingers still moving. Back and forth, back and forth, feeling the friction that felt wonderful beneath his skin. It gave him something to focus on besides his furious family which, speaking of, where was the fury he'd been expecting?
"Did you grab the spirit too?"
"Yes," Sam said simply in response to his brother's question.
Sam's fingers stopped moving, and in his shock he turned wide eyes to Dean. His brother was standing with his arms crossed and honest to goodness confusion on his face, and John was right behind him. Neither of them looked furious, or even mad in the slightest, and that just fueled Sam's shock even further. "Why? Because it was coming after you two! I wasn't sure I could even touch it, but I'd seen it before you two had, so I figured I might've had a chance, and I did, so I took it. And because I happen to love the both of you, but if that's not a good enough reason for why, then-"
"Sammy, I know why," Dean said quietly, uncrossing his arms with a sigh and stepping over to the bed. He sat down beside Sam before turning to lock gazes with him. "I knew why the minute you grabbed the damn thing, even if I couldn't see you to know it was you. No one else would've jumped in to grab it for us. And I knew you doing that meant that you loved me, loved us both."
Sam hesitantly tore his gaze from Dean to glance at his dad, who seemed to know exactly where Dean was going with this. And that was all well and good for him, but Sam didn't know, which made him turn back to his brother. "I don't-"
"I'm trying to tell you that I don't need to hear the words to know that you care about me, that you love me," Dean said, and Sam's heart twisted even as he tried to hide the wince on his face. He must not have done a very good job at it, because Dean immediately raised his hand. "Let me finish this time, man?" he asked softly.
Sam could only nod, and Dean finished, "I'm not you, though, Sam. That's what I didn't get. Maybe I don't need those words...but you do. We're different, I know, but it's been those differences that have kept us alive over the years. I've got a fast trigger finger, and you love your books enough to tell me what to fire at. I know if there's something wrong, you'll think it through and work it out."
The twisting in his chest had long gone, and Sam's wince had turned into a smile that was getting wider by the minute. Dean fidgeted, before turning to John. "I've done my chick-flick moment; your turn."
John snorted even as Sam chuckled, but the sound of mirth faded as John stepped forward. "Above everything else, you're my son, Sam. I may not be the father you imagined having, and I know I don't say it often enough, but I love you. Even when I'm pissed as hell at you and I want to take a swing at you, I'd immediately turn around and take a swing at the thing sneaking up to take you out. And Dean's right: our differences have been our saving grace. Your questions used to bug the hell out of me."
Sam rolled his eyes. "Kinda guessed," he said dryly, and managed a smirk even as he felt his eyes sting again. He was a walking chick-flick moment; Dean was right.
"They'd make me sit and think it through, though, and I'd find something most times that I hadn't seen before, another way to do things, a way that would usually wind up saving my life, because of you," John said quietly, and the stinging sensation only intensified. "It irritates the hell out of me sometimes, but it's also one of the reasons I love you so much."
He stepped forward and crouched in front of Sam, hand reaching out to rest on Sam's shoulder. "I may be smart, smarter than most," he said, his voice even quieter than before, "but I've done some stupid things. And the stupidest one was letting you walk out on me, twice, thinking I didn't give a damn about you."
Sam inhaled shakily, his lips trembling as he tried to keep them still and keep the tears from rolling. He lost the battle and felt the tears slide down his face, and he ducked his head as he choked back a sob. "I really am a girl, aren't I?" he managed to get out, trying to smile but not quite getting it to work.
The hand on his shoulder tightened, and another hand, Dean's hand, slid over his other shoulder to hold him. "Yeah, but you're our girl," Dean said, and Sam snorted and laughed even while he flipped his brother the bird.
Dean snickered and John chuckled, and as Sam watched them, the tears dried and the pain in his chest finally disappeared completely. This was good. This was better than good. They didn't get to laugh often enough.
And neither of them had let go of Sam yet either, and that was perfectly okay as far as Sam was concerned.
"Let's patch up Samantha already," Dean said, rising quickly before Sam's outstretched arm could hit him. "Then let's figure out what the hell that thing was or who it was, salt and burn the bastard, then get the hell out of this town."
"Agreed," John said, turning back to look at Sam. For the first time in too long, they exchanged a smile that didn't feel awkward or forced. It felt good to have his brother and his dad back.
For once, they'd had good luck, not the unfortunate type that seemed to cover their family like a dark blanket. That was something that had been another first in too long. It felt good.
"Sounds like a plan," Sam added, before glancing over at his brother. "There's something else I want to do before we leave, though."
The spirit wound up being easy to find, and easier still to salt and burn. It had tried to attack them again, but the three had worked together as a solid team, and it shouldn't have surprised Sam at how easy everything had gone down because of it. The three of them were a stronger force when they were together. From his brother's statement at how anticlimactic it had been, and his dad's almost comedic confusion as he'd nodded in agreement, Sam knew they'd figured it out, too.
The next day, on their way out of town, Dean pulled over to park against the same curb Sam had sat on only a few days before. John's truck pulled up right behind them, but only Sam stepped out to enter the garden.
Amelia had been right; it was much nicer inside. Butterflies flew from flower to flower, in easy rhythm with the bumblebees that were doing the same. The garden was circular, with the stone path weaving around and out to various flowers.
In the center of the garden was the fountain. It looked like a natural spring, with only a small golden bowl around the base. Several stones were placed in the bowl around the water stream as if to keep it going straight up, but Sam knew the water would continue up even without the help of the stones.
The fountain rose gracefully, before descending to the stones below. The stones almost seemed to change color as the water fell, and Sam probably wasn't just seeing things. It was like Ayers Rock, the blessed monument of Australia: the stones changed colors, it was in the center of the garden, and it was guarded by something that couldn't be explained.
The spirits guarding Ayers Rock probably weren't as benevolent to its guests as Amelia was to hers.
"I'm going to guess that you're a faerie, but I could be wrong," Sam said softly, lowering himself to kneel with one knee before the fountain. "It's the only thing that I could think of that would grant wishes with only goodness in the intentions. Plus, fae generally enjoy nature and..." Sam glanced around at the garden, smiling. "Your nature is beautiful. The entire town is beautiful and safe. The spirit we stumbled upon was a new spirit. If we'd left it alone, I've got the feeling that you'd have taken care of it. I'm betting you've taken care of this town for years."
He glanced down at the stones beneath his knees. "You took care of me, too," he continued quietly. "And you gave me back my family, and that...I can't repay that.
"But I wanted to leave you this. I couldn't think of another way to say thank you, so..." He pulled his gift from his pocket, placing it gently in front of the fountain, then rose to full height.
"Thank you," he whispered, before he turned to walk away. A soft sound behind him made him turn back, and he blinked. The seeds of lilac he'd placed were gone, and a small lilac was growing in front of the fountain.
He smiled and stepped out of the garden.
Dean and John were both leaning against the Impala when he came back out. "Can you still see me?" Sam asked, half kidding.
"Unfortunately," Dean said while rolling his eyes, and John slowly chuckled as Sam reached forward to smack his brother. When he glanced again at Dean, he could see a grin on his brother's face and a gaze that was full of happiness as it locked on Sam. Sam grinned too, turning to look at John. John simply sighed, but there was a soft smile on his lips as well.
"Let's get out of here," John said, pushing himself away from the Impala. "Dean, you ever gonna let your brother drive?"
"Driver picks the music," Dean supplied, shrugging as Sam slid into the passenger seat. "Shotgun shuts his cakehole...unless he needs to talk." Sam leaned over to see his brother through the driver's window, and was almost surprised at the honesty and seriousness with which his brother said the words.
Then Sam began to smile. "Dean?"
"...You're such a girl."
John's laughter covered most of Dean's growl as he slid into the car to reach for his brother.