here's the conclusion; I hope ya'll like it. Thanks for reading!
Dean was finally able to get his brother off the kitchen floor and out to the couch, but attempting to get him to calm down and really sleep was useless. Sam was awake most of the night, drifting in and out, crying sometimes and sometimes not.
Dean sat with him, worried and unable to pull himself away. He didn't move until early that morning, when Sam finally seemed to be sound asleep—more from exhaustion than anything.
He found Bobby in the other room, flipping restlessly through one of his scores of old books.
"Couldn't sleep either?"
The older hunter shrugged. "How's Sam?"
Dean dropped into a chair. "Out, finally."
"Did he remember anything else?"
"He's been tossing and turning all night trying to get to sleep, muttering stuff. Let's just say I'm pretty sure most of his memories are back by now," he winced.
Bobby winced. "It can happen like that, I guess."
Dean slumped in the chair and huffed, "Yeah, apparently. And here I was all ready for it to be some long drawn-out process."
"It can be; it just wasn't this time. It's debatable whether he's lucky for it, but..."
"I vote not."
Dean headed back to the living room to catch what few hours of sleep he could. Sam was still out when he woke, but by the time he'd grabbed just enough breakfast to keep himself from starving—he wasn't really hungry beyond that—his brother was up. Dean stepped back into the living room and found Sam standing by the couch, unmoving, arms crossed and focused on what must have been a rather fascinating spot somewhere between the wall and the floor.
He looked up, but not directly at Dean. Then he walked over and hugged him—tightly.
Dean returned the embrace awkwardly, only for a moment. "Uh...hey?"
Sam let go and turned away, pulling in a deep breath as his hands scrubbed through his hair. "Why didn't you warn me about what happened to you?" he asked quietly.
He blinked. "I...guess this means everything's back now?"
"There are still gaps up there, but I've got the basics, yeah. Why, Dean?"
"Well..." Because part of him had still hoped that maybe that part wouldn't come back—that somehow he could find a way to explain everything happening now without giving that part away. It never would have worked, but the irrational hope had been there just the same. "I just thought I had more time to do it, that's all."
Sam huffed. "Fine."
"Look, I'm sorry."
"I said fine."
Dean frowned. "Fine. Are you okay?"
He slowly turned around again, facing his older brother but still not quite looking at him. "I remember most of it now; it's in perspective." He crossed his arms again and finally looked up. "I'm fine."
"Right. Sure." He nearly stammered, not sure what else to say. Sam offered a forced smile before he headed past Dean for the kitchen.
Just like that, the new Sam was back.
Dean still didn't know how he felt about that.
"What the hell is wrong with him?"
Bobby looked up from the car he was working on. "What, Sam?"
"Yes, Sam," Dean groused. "I don't know what else we're supposed to do. His memories are back; we should be on the road already."
"I thought you two were leaving this afternoon."
The boy shook his head in frustration. "I asked Sam last night if he was ready to get moving today, and he said he didn't care."
"Then what's the problem?" Not that he didn't think there was a problem, but Dean needed to think it out.
He shrugged and leaned against the car. "I don't wanna leave with him like he's been the past few days. He's back all right, but he's...still off."
Bobby wiped his hands and straightened. "You mean how he hasn't been talking."
"Or talking but not really saying anything, yeah. I know that not talking about things has gotten a lot more normal for him lately, but this is just bothering me. Is he okay, or isn't he?"
"I think those older memories are still seeming a lot more recent. Maybe he remembers the in-between, but he also remembers what it felt like when he didn't—and that was only a few days ago."
Dean looked away. "Yeah...I kinda figured something like that.
Bobby crossed his arms. "Then what'd you ask me for?"
Dean sighed and shrugged. "Guess I hoped you had some kinda other explanation."
"Dean, if Sam's not gonna talk to us about it, then all we can do is what we've been doing—giving him time."
"Time, memories...it's all I've heard about for more than a week," Dean growled. "I just wants things back to freakin' normal."
"It'll happen. Just—"
"Give it time," the boy huffed. "Thanks. I got it." And he walked away.
He found Dean sitting between the car hulks, in the spot Sam had chosen days ago. He hadn't really been looking for his older brother, but somehow he didn't really mind the fact that Dean was here.
His brother glanced up from his beer. "What do you want?"
"Nothing..." Sam held up the up-opened beer in his own hand. "You beat me to it, that's all." Dean almost smirked, and Sam sat down and opened his drink.
"Great minds think alike, and all that fun cliché crap, I guess," Dean said after a moment. The beginning of an attempt at peace—taking back the hostility he'd shown when his brother walked up.
Sam's eyebrows went up. "Yeah, sure." They both felt silent again, nursing their drinks and staring across the salvage yard as they rested in the shade of the vehicle they sat against.
"Still not talking, then?"
"What's there to talk about?"
Dean frowned and took a swig of his beer. "Maybe about how you've been sittin' around for days not saying anything?"
He grimaced and stared at the dusty ground. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Yeah, I figured that out on my own."
Sam remembered now why things seemed so strange between them. He remembered that he was keeping secrets—remembered how serious those secrets were. Maybe he didn't want to talk about this whole memory thing, but...Dean deserved more than nothing on that one. Sam felt bad enough remembering everything he was already keeping from his brother.
He remembered the reasons he was keeping those things to himself, and he stood by them, but...if he had to keep that, he could give Dean this.
"It hurts, Dean," he said finally, still staring at the ground. His brother looked up again. "Remembering the time between then and now has helped...but it still feels a lot like I was just with Jessica a few days ago—like even if I'm not talking to him, Dad's still out there if I need him—like all we ever had to worry about was small game, and not stopping the end of the world."
"I remember everything and I know it's not, but it still feels like it's all true, and it hurts," he swallowed.
Dean let out a breath. "Sorry...guess I can't really imagine what this whole thing's been like for you—losing everything and getting it back like that and all."
"I really will be okay. I just don't know how long it's gonna take," he said quietly.
His brother looked at him. "You shoulda just said so, you know...instead if making me wonder exactly what the hell was bothering you.
"I didn't want to talk about it," he reiterated.
Dean shook his head. "Nevermind."
"Look, it's ok. I get it. I...probably would have felt the same way," he said, and sounded honest. With that he went back to his beer.
Sam sat back and took a swing of his own, and this time the sitting in silence wasn't so uncomfortable. "You want to get moving, don't you?" he asked finally.
Dean shrugged. "Don't get me wrong...It's nice being here, with Bobby and all, but I just don't feel right staying here with all the crap going on out there."
He nodded. "You're right; we should get going." Out of the corner of his eye he caught his brother's eyebrow go up.
Not really. It still hurt; he could still feel Jessica beside him that last night, and he could still see Dad standing there in that hospital room, not wanting to fight and asking for coffee, and remember brushing his father off—all much sharper than the last time he'd thought about either memory before the hit on the head.
It hurt, but he would be fine. He could get through it, Sam supposed, as long as Dean was around...still alive, and not in hell.
Just because there were things he needed to keep to himself now didn't mean he loved his brother any less.
He was doing it for Dean—for the rest of the world, yes, but...for Dean.
"Yeah, I'm sure. We can leave in the morning, if you want. I'll be fine," he said, giving Dean a small smile.
Dean looked at him and nodded slowly. "Okay." Then he smiled a little, too.
Dean stood with his brother and Bobby by the Impala the next morning, their things packed and in the trunk, and ready to go. Bobby pulled them both into a brief embrace, one after the other. When he let go of Sam he looked at him for a long moment.
"You're sure you'll be all right?"
Dean watched his brother nod. "Yeah...thanks for everything, Bobby."
"All right—just try to avoid smacking your heads on things from now on, okay boys?" he smirked.
"Oh believe me; we'll try," Dean answered honestly. With that he went around the car and climbed in. Sam was in and closed his own door just before his brother did. "Later, Bobby," Dean called.
Bobby waved, Sam waved back, and they were on their way. Sam was quiet for the first thirty miles or so, and Dean didn't particularly have anything to say either. He just drove.
"Where are we headed?" Sam asked finally.
Dean shrugged. "I'm not sure yet."
He'd just wanted to get moving, and he hadn't taken the time to sniff out any specific potential case. Apparently Sam hadn't either, or he wouldn't be asking; he'd be pulling out a folder stuffed with two dozen printouts from the internet.
"What?" Dean looked at his brother. "What do you mean?"
Sam looked out the window and crossed his arms tightly. "I uh...I think I want to go to California."
"California as in...?"
"Palo Alto," he answered quietly.
Dean blinked a few times and focused on the road again. "Oh..."
Sam took a deep breath. "I haven't been back since Jessica died, Dean. You'd think in three-and-a-half years I'd have found the time...but I was always with you, and we were hunting, and I just...didn't think about it. I didn't want to think about it." He grimaced and glanced back at his brother.
Jessica's grave. Sam was right; he hadn't been since right after the funeral, right before they'd left California—a long time ago.
Dean sighed. "Well if you want to..."
Sam stared out the windshield at nothing. "I want to; I think it's time."
He hesitated, unsure if that particular trip would help Sam or just hurt him. But he supposed it wasn't for him to decide. Sam was on his way to being all right, and if he wanted to do this Dean didn't think he could question.
But he would be there, because no matter what crap Sam got himself into, no matter what he did, that was his job. That was what brothers did, and he was going to do it. So he nodded.
"Okay...California it is."
Sam looked at him again, smiled faintly. "Thanks, Dean."
Dean smiled back in response, and made a mental note of which direction to get on the interstate later as he cranked the radio.