Disclaimer: I own nothing in the following story. All recognizable characters and locations belong to Eric Kripke, the actors who portray them and everyone in between. No money was made and no offence was intended in the telling of this story. All characters will be dusted off and returned after I have finished playing with them sometime in the very distant future.
Author's Notes: Thanks to lynxlan and Muffy for betaing this story. I've updated since getting it back so any mistakes are from me.
Thank-you: If you've left a review to any of the chapters and I have not responded I just wanted to say thank you for your support on this story. It has been darker than my normal writing so thanks for sticking along for the ride. For those who didn't login to make a comment thanks for taking the time to leave a review. And for the lurkers out there who have me on alert thanks for reading!
Pending Sequel alert: This is the end of this story but I am working on a sequel to this called Scar Tissue. It's a ways from being completed but I have made great progress on it over the last few days.
This chapter's warnings: There might be a couple of swear words.
By infinite shadow
It took another three weeks of healing, training and general time before the Winchesters were ready to leave the safety of Singer Salvage.
John still spent most of his time reading up on demons and discussing them with Bobby. He tinkered under the hood, making sure his baby was in pristine condition for the road, but each of these things were easily put aside for his boys if they needed anything. He was surprised how easy it was to fall into the routine of working on the Impala with Dean, discussing the supernatural with Sam and having morning workouts again with both of his children.
Sam suffered from nightmares every night, but most of his wounds had healed up. The cut on his hand from the blood ritual seemed to start to seal over for a few days then with one unfortunate twist or flex the entire wound would re-open. Sam had kept it clean and wrapped then did his best to ignore it.
Dean's wounds were completely healed, but he kept a wary eye on his little brother. He was well aware of the nightly terrors his brother faced, and he'd borrowed one of Bobby's cars the day before they left and went into to town to get a little something he hoped would help out.
Dean glanced outside and could see his father leaning against the side of the Impala while chatting with Bobby. Both men were grinning before Bobby actually started laughing out loud. Dean shook his head as he glanced down the hall as he waited on his brother.
"Sammy! Sometime today!" he shouted.
Silently Sam appeared in the hallway with his duffle in his arms. "Sorry," he mumbled as he headed towards the door.
"Hold up, Shorty," Dean said as he wrapped his arm around his little brother's shoulder.
"Not short and aren't we leaving?" Sam asked.
"Yeah, dad's waiting on us. But first," Dean said as he pulled back slightly and took Sam's duffel out of his hands and dropped it to the floor.
Dean smirked. "Oh, like there's anything breakable in there."
"Coulda been," Sam pouted.
Dean picked up a package from where he'd left it on the couch. He held it up for a second with a big grin, then held it out to his brother. His smile faded as Sam just stared up at him. "C'mon, Little Man. Take it," he said quietly.
Sam eyed the package for a second before he took it. With one last glance at his brother, he reached into the bag and pulled out a soft leather bound journal. "Wow," he breathed as his fingers brushed over the cover, then opened it. The front page had a circle of protection runes drawn in Dean's scrawl and in the middle of that in block letters it simply said "Sam's Journal." Tucked beside the lined note paper was a shiny silver pen.
"Do you like it?" Dean asked softly.
"Yeah. But why?" Sam asked.
"You can always come to me, you know that right?" Dean asked.
"Well, sometimes it might help to write stuff down, too. I know you're having nightmares and I thought it might help if you wrote them down. I had a dream journal when I was younger and it helped me a lot, so I thought it might do you some good too," Dean said, then put a hand on Sam's shoulder. "Doesn't mean you stop coming to me with stuff or waking me up in the night if you need to. This is just something extra, you hear me?"
Sam nodded. "Yeah. Thanks, man."
Dean gave him a half grin then picked their duffels off the floor. "Ok, let's go."
Sam headed out just in front of him and at the base of the steps looked up at his brother. "Shotgun!"
Dean snorted out a quiet laugh as he watched his brother hurry to the car. "There's still room for you in the trunk, Sam," he said happily but he watched carefully as his father reached out and wrapped an arm around his little brother's shoulders to keep him out of the car. He hesitated as Sam froze for a second before his little brother against their father's side.
As he moved towards the back of the Impala, a large grin lit up his face. Mostly from the relief that things were as close to normal that they probably were ever going to be, at least for a while. He put both duffels into the trunk. Glancing around, Dean noticed that Bobby and his father were still engrossed in their conversation.
He reached into his duffel and pulled out the small bear he'd given to his little brother years ago at Christmas. Dean looked at the worn teddy bear and grinned slightly. The runes he'd re-drawn the night before were clear as day now on each of the bear paws. He slipped it into Sam's duffel and closed it up. Nodding to himself, he closed the trunk.
"Dean? You 'bout ready, son?" John asked as he glanced over at him.
"Yes, sir," Dean answered as he joined them at the side of the car. He shook Bobby's hand and smiled at him. "You'll be happy to see us gone."
Bobby shook his head and pulled him into a tight hug. "Idiot," he murmured.
"Thanks, Bobby," Dean whispered back, not surprised at the lump in his throat. He always hated leaving this place.
He pulled back and watched his younger brother awkwardly offer his hand Bobby. Frowning, he shook his head. That wasn't normal. He worried his lower lip between his teeth and watched Sammy's body language. Sam had one hand tucked into his t-shirt and he was fidgeting. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other and was barely making eye contact with Bobby.
Dean shook his head. It was probably nothing to worry about. Sam had three nightmares last night and he was probably exhausted. The kid sometimes got wired on no sleep and didn't know what to do with his energy. But he'd be sure to keep an eye on him anyway. It was his job after all, he thought with a slight grin.
Bobby chuckled, took his hand and gave him a wink. "You take care of these two now. And I expect to hear from you at least twice a week. Right?"
"Yes, sir," Sam said seriously.
Bobby smiled down at him before he crouched down slightly. "Take care, Sam. You can call me anytime, remember that, ok?"
Sam nodded, pulled his hand away and got into the car.
Dean met Bobby's eyes and even though he shrugged, he was still frowning. It wasn't typical behavior but he felt like he had to say something. He mouthed bad night to the man and Bobby nodded back at him.
"Take care, old man," John said as he walked around the car.
"Old man! I'm younger than you!" Bobby shot back.
"Yeah, but I look better," John replied with a huge grin on his face and a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
Dean crouched down and gave Shadow one last pet. "Too bad you can't come with us, girl," he whispered to her. But he knew they'd be back and he'd see her again.
"I'll let you talk to her the next time you call," Bobby said, still grinning.
"Yeah, thanks," Dean said dryly. "Bye, Bobby. We'll be in touch. Real soon. Promise."
"You'd better be, kid," he said as he turned and pulled Shadow back with him. "You'd better."
Dean nodded as he got into the Impala and the car purred to life. He felt something settle in him that he hadn't realized he'd been missing.
"Where are we going, dad?" Sam asked from the back seat.
"Why don't we see where the road takes us," John suggested as he got to the end of the driveway. He really had no plan, but felt like it was time to get back on the road. Maybe they'd find a decent motel somewhere and some fun along the way. "Left or right, boys?"
"Left," Sam said.
Dean grinned at his father and nodded.
"Sounds good to me," John said and he turned onto the road.