The Long Road Home

Chapter 7 – On Their Way

Sam blinked and stared out the window in the room. The sun was shining; the golden rays glinted off the wheelchair that sat off to the side. It had been over a week, a week that he had almost no recollection of except for snatches of memory. He remembered the pain that had become so bad Bobby had to medicate him. Joshua and Ellen had been there for part of it as well. But the one constant had been his brother Dean.

A soft sigh escaped his lips as he glanced at the empty bed in the room. He was surprised that his older brother wasn't hovering around him. He moved his gaze to the bathroom doorway and noted it was dark, no big brother taking all the hot water. That left the other door which was open. Beyond the door he could see the old sofa that must have been part of the living room. He really didn't know since he'd never been out of bed except to use the bathroom.

He let his head fall back to gaze out the window. In the distance he could hear the soft breeze that carried with it the sound of late summer. A flock of geese flew overhead on their way to their next location. If he closed his eyes he could almost forget that all of this would be gone because he had been duped by a demon. A single tear fell down his cheek as he remembered what Ruby said when he asked why they had chosen him.

"Because it had to be you Sammy, it always had to be you." Ruby's voice echoed in his mind.

All his life he thought he had a choice, if he made the right decisions did the right things he could avoid the evil that dwelled within him. Now he knew different. It was funny but even when he'd told Bobby and Dean that he was to become Lucifer's vessel there had been no shock, no quick assurances that he could be wrong. There had been only acceptance as if they had known it all along.

Everyone seemed to know he was evil, to accept it except for him—until now. There was no more avoidance, no where to run. For some reason the wheel of fate had come down on his name when it was looking for the ultimate evil that would destroy the world. So now the question was what should he do about it?

A noise outside the door broke into his thoughts. "About time sleeping beauty! I brought you your breakfast. Poached eggs and toast—I even cut up the bread for you into little Sammy squares."

Sam shook his head at his brother's antics. He knew Dean was trying to make things easier for him. For the moment he was willing to go back to the way it had been before Cold Oaks, before he'd started events in motion that lead them to be here. "Can't I eat in the other room Dean?"

Dean paused and shook his head. "Sam, your fever has only been gone since last night. Everything seems to be healing fine but you're gonna be bed ridden for a couple more days yet."

The young hunter sighed. It wasn't that he didn't appreciate what was being done for him but when he was awake, all he had was either his brother to occupy him or his own dark thoughts. However, he also knew his brother was right. He still couldn't even go to the bathroom without assistance. The wheelchair made things easier, but his healing wounds still complained when he sat up for more than a few moments. "Okay…"

"Look, I know it's hard Sam but tell you what. If you're a good boy I'll bring your laptop in here later. I bookmarked a few good sites for you." Dean winked and Sam obliged him with the expected eye roll. On the surface things seemed to be heading back to normal but he wasn't fooled. Sure his brother was willing to take care of him and he had told him more than once that he wanted Sam by his side—but did he really? How could Dean trust him if he couldn't even trust himself?

A slap on his knee brought him back from his thoughts. "Too much thinking Sammy. Care to share with the class?"

"Not really…" Sam hedged as he picked up the fork and took a bite of the eggs. They weren't bad but he still had trouble eating. It seemed pointless, if all he was to become was a meat puppet why bother? But then he looked at Dean's worried gaze and decided maybe there was a reason to try. He took another bite and saw the smile on his brother's face.

"Well if you want to talk, I'm right here. I know I haven't been big on caring and sharing since…" Dean sighed and looked out the window for a moment. "…well for too long now. We can't keep secrets anymore Sam so I'm gonna trust that you'll tell me if it's important."

Sam placed the fork down and looked down at his hands. He realized now that by not telling Dean how he had been feeling, Ruby had managed to get her hooks into him. But years of internalizing, being told to suck it up and move on were hard to overcome. He saw Dean take a seat on the overstuffed chair that had been brought into the room. How many times over the past week had he woken to see his brother sitting there?

"I'm not keeping any secrets Dean. I just—I don't know…" Sam swallowed. How could he tell his brother something he wasn't even sure of himself?

He watched as his brother sat back and gazed at him for a moment before he spoke. "Sam, I know we haven't discussed what happened after Lucifer got out. I know I was a complete jerk to you…" Sam started to protest but Dean held his hand up. "…you'll get your chance in a moment. Just let me get this out okay?"

Sam nodded as he settled back against the pillows. His food was forgotten as he watched the emotions flowing across his brother's face. It had been so long since Dean had let his mask slip in his presence he'd forgotten how easy it was to read him. Right now he could tell his brother was feeling guilty and scared.

"It was just hard. I mean I find out that I'm the one who broke the first seal and then I'm told I'm supposed to stop the apocalypse only to find out that the angels never wanted that to begin with. I tried to stop you but once again I'm too late. Ever since I came back I've felt out of control and I have to admit I was—am scared. This is just so big Sammy that sometimes I just can't take it all in." Dean ran a hand through his hair and stood. He started to pace as he continued.

"So I tried to pretend that we could just hunt, forget everything else and move on like we have always done before. But it wasn't working. All I could think was will Sam be able to resist the demon blood when he's covered in it? Then when Zach broke your legs and almost killed you…" Dean swallowed before he continued. His eyes were filled with moisture that refused to fall. "I thought to myself, will I be able to say no next time he or some other fuggly decides to use you as a bargaining chip?"

"You were right not to trust me Dean—you still shouldn't…" Sam replied sadly. He jumped as a hand clamped onto his shoulder.

"No, I knew better Sam. Sure we still have issues and we'll work on them. We both made mistakes here. But deep down there is only one person I can trust to have my back and that's you. In this whole craptastic situation, you've always been there, trying and struggling right along with me. I just forgot that we are stronger together. The threats don't go away because we're not together. The only difference is I no longer have my pain in the ass little brother to keep me in line." Dean sat down on the bed and looked down at his hands for a moment.

"I know you want me to have the answers Sammy, but I don't have them. All I know is we either run and hide or we stand and fight. I'll do whatever you want but I won't do it alone anymore." Dean stood and walked over to the window to gaze outside. Sam could see the tension in his shoulders and realized that his brother was worried—worried that he wouldn't agree to stay with him.

"Dean?" Sam said softly and watched as his brother turned to look at him.

"Yeah Sammy?" Liquid eyes waited for the words that would either begin the healing process or destroy them both. No matter how much Sam hated himself, he loved his brother more.

"I'm tired of being someone's puppet. I say we fight…" The smile that lit his brother's face was more than Sam deserved. "And for what it's worth, I will prove to you that you can trust me again. I'll always have your back big brother."

"Well of course you will Sammy, because I'll always be out front keeping the fugglies away from that girlie figure you're workin' on." Dean laughed as he picked up the tray and moved it to the dresser. "Now how about we make a trip to the bathroom and then its time for medicine and a nap…"

"Dean…" Sam whined as the covers were pulled down and he was gently pulled into a sitting position.

"Don't Dean me. You don't want Bobby to come in here do you?"

"That's not fair!" Sam cried out as he blushed. He remembered the last time he hadn't listened to Dean. Bobby had come in and threatened to tan his hide. He reminded Sam that if he could learn to accept help, he darn well could. He had no problem believing his friend would follow through with his threat either.

"Well no one said it is. Now come on princess. While you're napping I'm gonna go do a supply run and if you're really good I'll bring you back something special for dinner." Dean winked.

"The latest copy of Busty Asian Beauties? Seriously Dean don't you ever tire of porn?" Sam winced as his brother helped him transfer to the wheelchair.

Dean grinned. "Not in this lifetime Sammy boy—never!"

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

[i]Three weeks later…[/i]

Bobby Singer watched as the two boys worked together on the Impala. Sam handed Dean the tools while they both enjoyed the chilly autumn afternoon. He knew the signs, now that the youngest Winchester was almost fighting fit both boys were getting restless. The problem was, he wasn't looking forward to being left behind again.

He looked down at the latest report he'd received from Rufus. Demon activity was up all over not to mention there was another hunt he'd heard about a few towns over. The problem was he wasn't sure which one to give to the boys. He knew Dean was still worried about taking Sam on a demon hunt. Even though the boy had shown no signs of withdrawal or even a hankering for the stuff, none of them was sure what would happen if he was knee deep in it.

Yet, if they kept shielding Sam he would figure it out and do something stupid. Then of course there was the whole Lucifer vessel issue. If Sam was captured, Lucifer would get his hands on him and that could be disastrous for all of them. Not because Bobby thought the boy would say yes, but he had seen how far the demons were willing to go to break him. He didn't think either he or Dean could go through that again anytime soon.

The other hunt involved either a vengeful spirit or poltergeist from the sounds of it. It could become nasty but the boys were both experienced and maybe he could convince them to let him tag along. After all it was on the way back to South Dakota. He gazed up and saw the smiles on both of his boys' faces and realized how much he would miss them when they finally went off on their own.

He knew he had things to do once he got home. He still ran his business with help from a local mechanic he'd been friends with over the years. But his main focus had to be on figuring out a way to keep both the angels and demons from taking his boys from him. As he saw it, killing Lucifer wasn't the only option. If Michael had managed to put him down before, he was betting there was a way to put him back. Either way, killing the son of a bitch or stuffing him back in hell—he would do whatever he could to make sure his family survived.

Decision made, he rolled up his papers and moved back into the small kitchen. He'd make lunch and then discuss the ghost hunt.

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

"So you think it might be a vengeful spirit?" Sam asked quietly as he finished his sandwich. He still wasn't eating as much as Bobby and Dean wanted, but at least he'd put some of the weight he'd lost back on. The afternoon training with his brother had also helped put muscle back on his lean frame. Except for a few twinges now and then, he was back to fighting fit.

"Yeah, apparently I'm thinking it may have been this character Joseph Freemont. He was an actor who died opening night under mysterious circumstances. Some folks have said they see him sitting in the audience during every opening night performance. But lately he seems to be getting more angry. The last four leading actors have ended up dying by strange accidents over the past three months. According to the schedule, West Side Story is going to be opening at the end of the week. I figure that gives us a few days to do some research and then settle the thing before someone else gets hurt."

Dean picked up the plates and rinsed them before he turned with the dishrag in his hand. "Sounds like our kind of hunt. What do you say Sammy? Ready to get back in the saddle?"

"I'm ready but I still think we should be looking for a way to get rid of Lucifer." Sam heard the sigh and looked up at his brother. He could see he was picking his words carefully.

"We're not ready Sam. We don't even know how to kill the son of a bitch. Until we have a plan, we need to keep him at arms reach." Dean threw the dishrag in the sink before he returned to the table.

"But if we don't research it, how are we going to find it Dean? I mean, we don't really know how long we've got before it hits the fan." Sam continued to argue.

"So you want revenge again Sammy is that it?" Dean asked.

Sam paused and looked up at both men before he responded. "No Dean, I want redemption."

"Dean's right Sam, we can't go off half cocked without making sure what we are up against." Bobby added. "Besides, you leave the research up to me. I can't be out in the field with you boys but I can still use my resources to help you figure this out."

"As to time Sammy, we never knew that before either. I guess the way I look at—the apocalypse or a whacked out vampire. Either way we may buy it. Besides as long as I don't agree to be Michael's vessel, I don't think things are going to change much." Dean shrugged.

Sam took a deep breath. He understood what they were saying but he needed to be doing something to end this. Each day he woke it was to the knowledge that it might be the day Lucifer found him. Unlike his brother and Bobby, he wasn't so sure he could keep saying no—he'd been weak before. He jumped as a hand landed on his shoulder.

"I know this is hard Sammy. I don't know if or when Zach might show up to force the issue either. But we can't worry about them. All we can do is what we do best—kick fuggly butt!"

The young hunter smiled. He didn't like it, but for now he was willing to follow his brother's lead. He'd shown before that his decisions couldn't be trusted. Besides, it would feel good to fight something they knew they had a chance of beating. "Okay Dean. So Bobby, how were you planning on getting back to South Dakota?"

"I'm going with you, you idjit! I figure I'll help you out with this little ghost problem and then you can drop me off. Someone has to keep you two out of trouble." Bobby groused as he wheeled towards his bedroom. "We leave in an hour so you two ladies better get your gear together or you'll be walking back to South Dakota."

Dean laughed and shook his head. "I wonder if he realizes I have the keys?"

Bobby ducked his head out of the doorway. "Mechanic genius—any more questions?"

"No Sir!" both boys chorused as they headed to their own rooms to pack. It was a beginning but both of them knew they still had issues to work through. For now, they were together with Bobby and they were family—that was enough.

The End.

Raven524: Okay, so I was going to make this longer but figured this was a logical place to break the story. Hopefully I managed to keep it close enough to what we've been told so far to keep it from being totally AU. Of course, we'll never get the brotherly moments often enough so hopefully this helped a little. Thanks to everyone who has read, responded, put this story on alert or even made it one of your favorites. You all make writing fun. I've already started the next chapter in this story—unless you've all had enough?