If I sigh one more time, I swear I'm going to kill myself.

It's been a week. It's been one week since 'show time' and we've been at Bobby's since we blew into his yard twenty three hours later.

Sam is - well, Sam. He's still my little brother and he always will be, even if he grows ten feet tall or brings on twenty Apocalypses. Nothing will ever change that. Not even me.

But - to say Sam is subdued is an understatement. He's exhausted, numb, maybe even in shock. He's so quiet, so depressed, he hasn't seemed to notice yet that I haven't left him alone for a minute since we left the convent.

He goes into the kitchen for a glass of water, I walk in a few seconds behind him. He goes to bed late, I go with him. He goes to bed early, I sit on my bed reading a book. He goes into the bathroom - well, I count the minutes until he comes out again. We're in the library together, in the yard together, anywhere he goes, I am.

It's not that I don't trust him, it's just - well I don't trust him. No, there's no more demon bitch queens to be wasted – knock wood - no more hell cages to be opened, nothing more for Sam to be tricked or forced or manipulated into doing. And yeah, he still has the demon blood in him but up until I went to hell, he dealt with that pretty well, so he'll be able to deal with it again.

What I'm worried about is how he completely forgot everything Dad and I ever taught him. How he just threw it away and took up with a demon without even a look back. What I'm worried about is Sam being faced with a situation and he makes the wrong decision based on his new ways of doing things.

What I'm worried about is how broken and lost Sam seems to be right now, how depressed. I mean, really, if I was to think about it, I'd think he's been depressed most of his life. But never with such a good reason before. I don't leave him alone because I don't trust him not to make one last really bad decision.

We're in the library, Sam on the couch deep in a book, me at the desk keeping a casual eye on him while I pretend to read my own book. Bobby stops in the doorway. He looks at me, he looks at Sam, he looks at me again.

"It's gonna be shepherd's pie for supper, gonna get started on it soon as I get back."

I look at Sam, then back at Bobby.

I sigh.

"Okay." I answer, and Bobby heads out of the house.

Another couple minutes and Sam sets down his book and heads into the kitchen. Another few seconds after that and I head into the kitchen right behind him. He's rummaging in the drawers and I don't even pretend to get myself a glass of water.

"Whatcha doin'?"

He holds up an ancient potato peeler. He talks like he's too tired to talk.

"Shepherd's pie has potatoes in it. I thought - I was gonna - I thought I could peel the potatoes for Bobby."

"Great. Sounds like a plan. What else goes in it?"

"Umm - carrots? I think? Onions? I don't know. I know potatoes."

"Okay, potatoes it is. Um - where do people keep potatoes? Strike that - where would Bobby keep potatoes?"

Sam looks high, I look low, for the elusive potatoes. After a couple minutes and nearly every cupboard, I hear Sam say, "Ohhh," like whatever he found is a major disappointment. I look and he's holding canned potatoes. Great, we don't have to do any peeling. Sam doesn't seem to agree though. He looks at the can in one hand and the peeler in the other and he laughs such a bitter laugh.

"Can't even get that right."

He sets the can down and throws the peeler into the sink and leaves the kitchen. I figure he'll go upstairs or outside, but he goes downstairs. Down into the basement. Down to the panic room.

I sigh.

I follow him.

When I catch up he's on the cot, head on the mattress at one end, feet over the rail at the other.

"Whatcha doin'?"

"Waiting for the hallucinations."

I sigh.

"Sam - we don't even know if you're going to get hallucinations this time. The last time, you know - first the ghouls bled you then the transfusions you got at the hospital. It was all kind of - abrupt. It may not happen this time."

"I hope it does." He says.


"Last time - I hallucinated Mom. She - she - kissed me and put her arm around me and - and -." He brushes the back of his fingers near his cheek and I guess that Phantom Mom touched his face and did all the Mom-things Sam never got to remember experiencing.

He sits up and swings his feet over the side.

"I know I was hallucinating her, I know it wasn't real. I just - all my life, growing up, I never really touched a woman. Not just because I loved her and she loved me. The first time I ever held hands with Jessica, I got this feeling inside of me like - like - fear and awe and scared and happy and joy and terror -."

I take a seat next to him on the cot.

"You know it always feels that way the first time you hold hands with a girl, whether you grow up with a Mom or not."


"Cross my heart."

He nods and smiles and frowns and shakes his head, and I hate that he feels closer to an hallucination than he does to me right now.

"C'mon, let's go back up, grab a beer or something. Wait for Bobby to come back."

He looks at me but I don't know what he's looking for or what he sees.

"You should just leave me down here. Lock me in again."

"No, Sam. C'mon." I stand up and walk to the door of the panic room. "Upstairs."

"Wouldn't you rather lock me in so you don't have to follow me around every second of every day?"

It should be a sarcastic question, a facetious question, but Sam still sounds exhausted and serious.

I sigh.

"You think I haven't noticed you're my shadow these days?" Sam asks before I can come up with a plausible excuse.


"I'm worried about you." That's the truth.

"You don't trust me."

And that's the rest of the truth.

"No, I don't." No sense denying it. I sit down next to him again.

Sam shrugs.

"So lock me up again. Be easier wouldn't it? You're not gonna believe me if I tell you that you can trust me, so -."

"Sam -." I try to think of some way to explain it. Some logical way that his lawyer-wanted-to-be brain will understand if not accept.

"When you broke your wrist, the doctor didn't trust that you could keep it straight and immobile for eight weeks all on your own. He put a cast on it. And that cast was restricting and got in the way and it itched and rubbed your skin and was annoying - but your wrist healed. It took longer than it should have because of digging graves and crawling through sewers and punching people's lights out, but it healed. And that cast made sure it healed exactly the way it should have."

"Yeah." He says it like he doesn't want to.

"So if I don't trust you, if I'm you're shadow, if I stick with you every minute of every day, it's to help you heal exactly the way you need to."

Well, he doesn't look like he's buying it.

I sigh.

"You're taller than me, right? So you can see farther than I can most of the time. But when it comes to you, when it comes to the dangers we put ourselves in, I see farther than you because I've always had to look farther than you. So yeah, I can see that my not trusting you is gonna be confining and annoying for however long it takes for you to heal, but you will heal." And that's as much a command as a promise. "So get used to it, 'cause that's just how it's gonna be."

He nods and shrugs, but at least he's not fighting me.

"C'mon back upstairs, Sam. Whatever happens, it's not happening in this room."

I leave the panic room and Sam follows me and we go back to the kitchen. I scout the refrigerator for some beer and Sam puts the can of potatoes back and scoops the potato peeler out of the sink to put it back, and it's right at that moment that Bobby comes into the house. He's carrying a couple of paper in plastic full of groceries bags and when he sets them on the table, he gives us both a once over, especially Sam with his potato peeler.

"I'm glad somebody wants to help me with the chores." He says and dumps a pile of potatoes out of a bag. He looks at me again. "Well, they're not gonna peel themselves, y'know."

Sam laughs.

I sigh.

The End.