Dealing with Sam Winchester was always a much different experience than dealing with his brother. Sam was the Winchester that was always willing to talk, always willing to tell you exactly what was wrong with him, because he believed that talking could help the situation, that letting out all of the emotions that you had pent up in your belly would make you a happier person.
So, when Bobby heard the Impala pull up, and the door squeak open, he fully expected to have to do nothing other than look at Sam, and Sam would spill everything, and they could get this sharing and caring moment over with, and maybe with both of them talking a little to Bobby, maybe they would take what they had learned to each other and maybe, the two of them wouldn't look quite so much like they had lost their favorite pet.
Sam came in by the kitchen door groceries weighting down his long arms. "Hey Bobby." Sam said as he flipped hair out of his eyes.
"What did you do son? Buy the grocery store out?" Sam gave a small smile that didn't exactly reach his expressive eyes.
"I just bought enough beer that the woman at the register felt the need to give me a lecture on alcoholism. The store wasn't busy, so she didn't feel the need to rush her speech." Bobby smiled and wheeled himself into the kitchen.
"Where's Dean? I didn't see him." Sam tried to not act too interested in the question, he tried to ask it as if he were asking if it should rain later today. He didn't want to reveal that he was slightly nervous that Dean would take off on him and not look back. Once, Sam had thought that the car would go with Dean, that Dean would never go anywhere without the Impala, that the car meant too much to him, but lately, lately, Dean had offered it to him every time the two of them had split up, the car must not have meant as much to him anymore, so now, Sam didn't trust that his brother wouldn't just up and leave everyone and everything—namely Sam.
"He's out in the workshop, seeing what he can do on a Mustang my mechanic can't seem to figure out what the problem is. Don't' freaking know why I keep that guy employed." Bobby muttered as Sam handed him a beer. Bobby sincerely didn't want this beer, he'd had two when Dean had talked to him about Sam less than an hour ago. It seemed to be a thing with the Winchester boys, you had to have at least one drink before you could start talking about your feelings. These boys needed a good therapist, or maybe Sam should have listened to the woman's lecture at the market a little more closely.
Bobby sighed inwardly as he watched Sam unload the groceries, he just wished the boy would come out with it, but like his brother, there was a dance one had to perform before he would speak. Granted, Sam's was never quite as long or complicated as Dean's but it was there just the same.
"What's going on Sam?" Bobby asked.
The big man shrugged, "That ain't an answer boy. Something's the matter with you and Dean. I could feel it when you boys walked through the door." Direct was the best way to approach Sam. He responded to it, while you needed to beat around the bush with Dean, Sam simply responded to directness.
"Boy, I've known you kids since you were knee high to a grasshopper. Give me some credit." Sam turned around and rested against the counter, just as his older brother had. Sometimes they were so alike it hurt.
"I've said things to Dean lately that I probably should have kept to myself."
Sam looked down and shuffled his feet. "I told him that I went with Ruby to get away from him, that his smothering was making me want to run."
"Yeah. And we all know how Dean responds to criticism." Sam shook his head. "No, that's not fair. I would have responded the same way had the tables been reversed." Sam took a deep breath.
"Were you being honest?"
"Was one of the reasons you went with Ruby because Dean was smothering you?"
Sam held his tongue for a while, trying to decide if that had really been the case or if he had simply said it to get a reaction out of his older brother, and when the answer came to his mind it shamed him further. "Yeah." Sam swallowed. "It's true."
"You can't help how Dean takes something."
"But he's my brother. He went to hell for me."
"So? It doesn't give him a right to be smothering mother hen."
"But, that's who he is."
"Just because he's your brother don't mean all of his qualities are good." Bobby was playing devil's advocate, because that was the song Sam Winchester needed him to dance to.
"But, he's been through so much…"
"Don't mean he's got a right to make your life miserable."
"But my life isn't miserable…he's back. He's whole. He's not in hell anymore. I'm not alone."
"But you weren't alone, you had Ruby…..Didn't you tell me that you and Ruby were saving people?"
"Yeah. We did….but, it was all fake. She just let me think that."
"But you saved people…just the same…you found a hunting partner. It wasn't like you were alone when he died."
"That's not true." Sam defended wildly.
"How is that not true Sam?"
"Dean isn't Ruby. He's my brother. She was a poor substitute for him." Bobby sensed a but.
"She didn't make me feel weak and needy. Dean makes me feel like a child. I'm a grown man."
"Yes you are."
"I don't need someone sitting behind me yelling at me for every little decision that I make!"
"No you don't."
"I don't want to be a subordinate. I know I've made some bad…really bad…decisions, but that doesn't mean that I'm still not a good hunter, that I don't know right from wrong. I know now…I know for certain what is right and wrong."
"I know you do son."
"I was confused for such a long time. When Dean died…" Sam licked his lips. This wasn't something any of them talked about. Dean's death was hard for all to talk about, they had all felt his loss deeply and differently. "When Dean died, I lost a part of me. A part of me that I was so desperate to find and get back, that I made some really really bad calls. But….but…" Sam swiped at his eyes. "It's over. I know what I've done, and I'm ready to make amends for it, but I can't apologize every single second of the day. I can't." Sam turned around and began clattering for a pan and turned on the water waiting for it to fill the large pot.
"He doesn't understand what it was like when he was gone….he doesn't know. I wasn't ready to do this on my own, I thought I was, he thought I was, but I wasn't. I needed him, I needed him to be there at my back, and when he wasn't…I found a piss poor substitute, and I regret that. I regret that when he came back I was consumed with Ruby and the blood, I regret hurting his feelings, I regret not building him up, and tearing him down instead. I regret all of that deeply. But he can't put me on a leash so tight that I choke."
"He does like to keep you close." Bobby acknowledged.
"So close I want to run away." Sam shook his head. "And we all know how good I am at that."
"We all deal with things differently son."
"I just never seem to chose the right way. He doesn't trust me, and I deserve that, I mean, I choked him almost to death. I hit him. I hurt him because of Ruby. I wouldn't trust me either. But, I want to be able to earn that back. I want to be his partner. I don't want to be his subordinate, his little brother…I want to be his equal. And how can I prove that with my leash choking me?"
"Have you thought about explaining it to him?"
"Oh, yeah right, Mr. No Chick Flicks. Right."
"You and I both know there are ways around that."
"Yeah." Sam conceded, turned off the water and put the pan on the stove. "Yeah. And I've taken advantage of that, and every single time I do, I put my foot in my mouth and say stuff like 'I went off with Ruby because of you.' And that closes him down, and makes him angry. Then he thinks about it, and he apologizes, offers me the car, because it's all he's got to give, and he sits in the passenger's side and doesn't look at me. He pretends to be so macho, but he's so tender hearted."
"And I always end up like an elephant trampling him down with one stomp of my huge foot."
"Maybe you need to grow up a little yourself Sam." Sam looked up swiftly. "You want to be his equal, and you should be his equal, you're a grown man. You can make your own decisions. Your decisions as of late have been poor. Very poor. Doesn't make you a bad person, but it does warrant your brother's lack of trust. You need to understand that. You need to take your lumps, and you need to show him that you can make good decisions. First being that you won't take off at the first sign of trouble, because that isn't very mature." Sam nodded. "If you want him to take you seriously, then you need to act the part." Sam nodded.
"You're welcome son."
They boys stayed a week, and at one point or another Bobby had heard them talking quietly, and Bobby was fairly certain that the different perspective had nudged them in the right direction with each other. God knows, that Bobby would feel better once the two of them were at rights again. Because Winchesters divided meant the world was in danger.
When they put their stuff in the car, they were together. The tether was nothing more than a thread, but the thread hummed with the beginnings of a new type of indefatigable bond. Angels, Demons, and Monster beware, the brothers were tentatively on the same page.
Bobby waved as the Impala sped out of Singer Salvage.