I don't realise I've zoned out till Sam's hand falls heavily on my shoulder. He's obviously been trying to get my attention for a while. His eyebrows are pulled together, creasing his forehead. I've told him before that's the way to put years on his face, but he never listens. I stretch my legs out in front of me and roll my shoulders, working out the kinks in them and dislodging his hand in the process.
"You do know it wasn't your fault, don't you Dean?" I'm guessing this isn't the first time Sam's made that statement. I have to admit that now my memories are back, for the first time I don't really know. I still don't actually know how Millie died. I thought I'd remember what happened but it turns out I wasn't even conscious at the time. Maybe it wasn't my fault directly but if I hadn't run off like a crazed lunatic she wouldn't have felt the urge to come after me. She wouldn't have been anywhere near the river. She would still be living out her days in her farmhouse, raising chickens or whatever people do in farmhouses.
"I don't know what I know, Sam." I lower my head and gaze into my coffee cup, as though all the answers are in the bottom of the dregs. Things are never that easy though and after a few minutes silence Sam sighs a deep sigh. The one that usually signifies the start of a well rehearsed and often repeated lecture. Turns out this is no different.
"Furst killed her," he states and the information hits me like a sledge hammer. It's a good job I'm sitting down because that's the sort of news that could floor Goliath. I feel the blood draining from my face and it must be apparent to Sam because that hand is back, this time between my shoulder blades and I can't help leaning back a little, taking what support and comfort from it I can. I feel slightly lightheaded and Sam is gently pushing me forward till my head is resting on my knees. It's not the most dignified position but it's still early enough for nobody to be about to witness it. When my world stops spinning, when I'm ready to hear the rest of the story I wave my good hand feebly at Sam, signalling him to continue. He gets the message and although I can tell he's reluctant to carry on, he knows me well enough not to resist.
"Furst was mad at you, at both of us, for destroying the kelpie. Long story short, he wanted to kill us and Millie got in the way, literally."
Okay, so that really is cutting a long story short. I was hoping for a little more information there, Sammy. How did Millie get in the way? I thought Furst was unarmed. Unless… Oh shit. My gun. What happened to my gun? I thought it was safely tucked away in my waistband. I wasn't that careless with it, was I? C'mon Sammy. You need to elaborate for me here. I raise my head and stare at him. There's no way he can possibly misinterpret that look. And he doesn't. There's that sigh again.
"She slipped on the river bank." He really doesn't want to go over this, I can tell. Casting a glance at his face, I'm shocked by what I see there. Sorrow and remorse are written all over his features. His eyes are dark and downcast. "I couldn't get to her in time, couldn't catch her. Her neck snapped, Dean. It was all over in a matter of seconds." He pauses for a minute. "I'm so sorry, Dean. So sorry."
It's all I can do not to break down like a school girl. She slipped. How could that kill her? I fell on that river bank myself. I'm still here. Where's the justice in that? I don't understand. I can't understand.
"Sam?" I sound pathetic, I know that. I need Sam to explain this to me. In really simple terms. All I can hear in my head are those words, 'she slipped'. People slip all the time. They bang their heads, they break their arms, they bruise their egos. What they don't do, is die.
The hand he still has resting on my back is moving in small, gentle circles. Through the numbness in my body and heaviness in my heart, the contact is welcome. I try to draw some strength from him, I don't want him to stop, to move away. I study my hand intently, idly wondering where that drop of moisture on the back of it came from. Its joined by another, then another and, mortified, I realise that I'm crying. Somewhere in the distance I can hear Sam murmuring soft platitudes.
"It's okay, Dean. It's okay." Seems I've heard that before. I desperately want to pull myself together but it's an insurmountable task at the moment. I scrub at my face, altogether too hard. I don't even realise how hard I'm doing it until Sam gently wraps his hand round my wrist and pulls my arm down. He leans in towards me until his arm bumps against my shoulder and rests there. In any other circumstances I'd be making a sarcastic remark about it, but here and now, this is what I need. Trust Sam to know me better than I probably know myself.
"How did it happen, Sam?" I can barely get the words out. I'll never know how he manages to understand me. I guess it's a family thing. Sam is reluctant to say anything and the pause is so long I wonder if he's going to deny me this final piece of the puzzle.
"When you went down, when it got you in the head, I thought… we all thought you were dead. Furst was happy and that, that got to me. I didn't know which way to go. I wanted to check you and I wanted to kill him. I guess what Dad taught us paid off, family first." He shrugs sheepishly. "I went to you. Millie was distraught. She screamed – a lot. At Furst, at you, at Jed, at anyone in earshot." He stops. Whether he's trying to remember or whether he's trying to soften the story for me, I'll never know. I'm concentrating on the warmth seeping through my shirt where his arm is still resting. When he picks up the story his voice has dropped a level. Nobody else would notice it but I know my little brother inside out and back to front. He's trying to shield me from whatever happened back there.
"Millie wouldn't believe me when I told her you were alive. She accused Furst of murdering you and kinda threw herself at him. He lashed out at her, caught her in the face. That's when she lost her footing. She fell so quick, Dean, she probably never even knew what happened."
And that was it, apparently. Sam goes on quickly to tell me how Furst fled the scene, not even stopping to free up Jed. How he tried to revive Millie. How he knew from the angle of her head that it was a pointless exercise. How he couldn't think about stopping Furst. How he had to get us out of there, leaving Millie behind. He tells me that he made the appropriate anonymous calls when he got me to the hospital, once he knew I'd be okay. He tells me that he called the police and the rescue services, even though he knew Millie was dead and Jed, if he had any sense, would be long gone by the time anyone got there. He did everything by the book. He did what I would have done. He did it right.
So why don't I feel any better?
There are some things that my muddled mind still doesn't get. Why did Furst come by the motel when I got out of the hospital? He must have waited till he saw Sam leave. What he was hoping to accomplish I don't know. I guess I'll never know. Part of me wants to hunt him down. Make him pay for what he's done. But a bigger part of me wants to leave this place, leave behind all the hurt and grief. Part of me is telling me that this is what you get for getting too close to someone. Sam never understood why I keep my distance. Maybe now he's got a clue.
Maybe now he understands why, when it comes to the crunch, it's his hands I put myself in.
A/N: So, that's it. My first multi chapter story. Thank you to everyone who stuck with it. I'd love to know what you think of it, good or bad - reviews make my day.