Hey everyone! I'm back with the new story in the 'Missing Piece' series! I want to thank my beta Gabi for not only looking over my work but also writing a great intro to this chapter and thinking of awesome plots! For those of you that are new to this series you'll probably want to read 'The Road to Confidence' first or it won't make much sense at all. That is the second story. The first is called 'The Missing Piece' and you don't really need to read that one but I would recommend it. Any questions you have though, feel free to ask me and I'll answer any of them. Thank you to everyone who has stuck with me in this series and the new readers that have discovered it. Thank you so much for reading! Hopefully you'll enjoy this one as well!
Dean was pacing the room, his hands clenched to fists and his eyes wandering to the clock at the wall every few seconds. "What's taking them so long? It's been almost an hour." With a hateful look he stared at the door where Sam had been wheeled through before.
"Sit down, Dean, before the hospital sues us for the holes in the floor." John's voice sounded both annoyed and amused.
Dean stopped his pacing and looked at the door as like he was about to burst in and free his brother from the doctor's clutches.
"I said, sit down, Dean. It's not like they're doing a brain surgery on him."
Dean shot his father a glance that clearly said that he wasn't so sure about that. He was about to jump and pace again when John's cell phone rang.
"It's Bobby," John said after a short look at the display. He greeted their friend in a low voice. "We're in a hospital in St. Louis," he told him. "No," he said after a few seconds. "Nothing has happened. Sam is just getting his cast removed, that's all. Although you couldn't tell if you watch Dean." John laughed. "Overprotective? Dean? That's an understatement. If there was a surgery that existed to join them at the hip I guess Dean would do it." John got serious when he listened to Bobby. "Yeah," he agreed. "We can do that. No problem. Thanks Bobby. Bye."
Dean looked at his father, expectantly. "Another hunt?"
"Yes, there are some mysterious deaths in Holton, Kansas."
Dean frowned. "Sounds familiar."
John nodded. "Have we been there before?"
"Not during the last few years. Maybe Sam will know."
As on clue the door to the examination room opened and a nurse was pushing the wheelchair with Sam in it out of the room. John had to suppress a laugh when he saw Sam's face. The kid hated to be pushed.
Dean jumped up, flashed a bright smile at the nurse and practically shoved her away. "I'll take over," he announced and patted Sam's shoulder. "Everything okay?"
Before Sam had a chance to answer, a middle aged doctor butted in. "His hand looks fine. We took an x-ray that showed the wrist has perfectly healed. But Sam should go easy on his hand during the next few days."
"We got that covered," Dean assured him, already wheeling Sam along the floor, leaving their father behind to talk to the doctor.
"Bobby called," he told Sam. "We've got a new hunt."
"Great," Sam muttered and grabbed the hand-rims to bring the wheelchair to a halt. "Stop it, Dean. I can do it myself."
Dean let go of the handles and got around the chair to face his brother. "You heard the doctor. You have to take it easy."
Sam sighed. Dean had been a downright mother-hen during the last weeks. But he knew it was useless to start an argument. Instead he focused on the information Dean had just given him. "A new hunt?"
"Yeah. A few mysterious murders in Holton, Kansas."
John caught up to them just in time to see Sam's face fall in shock. "So we were right. We've been there before. You know the place, Sam?"
Sam looked up at his father and brother, his face betraying the incredulity how they could not remember the town's name.
When he saw his brother's face, something clicked in Dean's mind and everything fell in place within an instant. "Oh shit," he exclaimed. "How could we have forgotten about it, Dad? Holton, that's where we found Sam."
John's jaw dropped and Dean watched as his father's expression filled with emotion, obviously remembering the day they had found out Sam was a part of their family. But for Sam, while the city held the memories of finding his family it also held years and years of painful, terrible memories of being bullied and uncared for. John exchanged a quick look with Dean at which the older brother glanced nervously at his sibling. Then John Winchester did something Dean neither boy had ever seen him do before.
"We can skip this one if you boys want." John never gave up on a job once he had accepted it. Sure, there were ones he turned down if they needed a break or if it was nearly impossible to complete because it would be too hard on Sam. But once he accepted a job, especially one that they would most likely be able to complete easily, John wouldn't even suggest abandoning it.
The far-away look in Sam's eyes vanished once his father spoke. "No, there are people dying because of some evil thing. I'm not afraid to go back to some place that has nothing to do with me anymore." I'm not afraid because I have my family with me this time. Sam added silently.
"You sure Sammy?" Dean asked and bit his bottom lip.
Sam groaned loudly and rolled his eyes, clearly aggravated at his brother. "Yes! Why the hell not Dean? That part of my life has been over for eight years now and just because we're going back to that town doesn't mean anything. I don't live that life anymore."
"Sam..." John tried his approach to his son but Sam just grunted and used his healed wrist to quickly escape toward the exit.
Sam might have acted like he was okay, but Dean knew him better than anyone else. When Sam acted edgy and snappy, he was trying to hide what he was really feeling. Guess he learned that trait from his big brother.
They decided to go back to the motel they were staying at for the night and then pack up and start driving tomorrow morning. Honestly, Dean just wanted to relax tonight before going on what he was sure would be a stressful and tense hunt for all three of them. But he couldn't be relaxed if Sam wasn't. As soon as they entered the motel Sam had gone straight onto his laptop, clicking away with short, quick bursts. Sure, Sam was the main researcher in the family but even this was a bit ridiculous.
Dean walked behind his brother from where he was sitting at a table and leaned his head over to see what he was up to. Sam was quickly searching through the websites about the town, going through them so fast that there was no way he was taking any of the information in.
"What'cha doin'?" Dean asked playfully, causing his brother to startle and gasp before spinning his wheelchair around to glare at him.
"What does it look like I'm doing Dean? I'm trying to find information on the deaths for our next hunt. You know, it's called research..."
Dean backed up and put his hands up in defense, clearly taken aback by Sam's bitchy attitude. "Hey, chill the hell out man. I'm just trying to talk to you. You know...like brothers do?"
"Yeah, freakishly annoying brothers." Sam grunted and turned away, causing Dean to sigh.
"Fine, I'll get out of your hair then. Sorry for bugging you, oh great one. Maybe you'd be happier with a brother who beats you and could care less?" Dean knew he was pushing it right here but he had to get Sam to calm the hell down. Making him feel bad would get the job done, even if it was reminding him of his past. But he had to get his little brother to remember that the past was the past and he had something so much better now.
Dean watched as Sam's whole body went rigid and then he shivered. Dean almost regretted what he had said by the hurt look on his brother's face...almost.
"You're right." Sam said quietly. "I'm sorry Dean. I was just being..."
"A bitchy gimp?" Dean suggested with a small smile.
"Yeah." Sam agreed seriously. "A really bitchy gimp. I guess the whole thing about going back brought back memories that I thought I'd forgotten. And then...going back there would just bring back more. Sorry." Sam hung his head, obviously ashamed at his behavior and Dean couldn't help it any longer as he felt a huge wave of sympathy for his younger brother.
"Hey, it's alright. I forgive you...this time." He grinned as he sat down at the table next to Sam. "You know, it'll be fine. Me and Dad are gonna be there with you and if you ever need us we're here for you."
Sam managed to smile back. "I know....I know there's nothing to worry about. But I was nervous anyway...guess that's why I was getting so mad."
"It's alright." Dean patted Sam on the shoulder and turned the laptop to face him. "So, what did you find out?"
John came back from getting pizza five minutes later and Sam reluctantly left the research to sit at the table with his father and brother. He actually managed to relax a little before he went back to his laptop. Watching his youngest son, John's smile turned into a frown after a while. Sam's wrist seemed to be very stiff. Almost as though he was trying not to move it too much so he didn't irritate it.
"You alright there Sammy?" John asked and almost wished he hadn't. Dean swirled his head over to his younger brother, already on protect-Sam mode. He put down his what had to be slice of pizza and walked over to Sam with a worried look on his face.
Sam sighed when he saw Dean come towards him. "Yeah Dad, I'm fine. Why?" Sam asked, trying to keep this between him and his father. There was no need for Dean to get involved in everything.
"Just looks like your wrist might be bothering you a little bit. You just got that cast off, why don't you go relax and get some sleep? It will be easier to research when we get there."
Sam had to admit his father was right. Plus he really didn't feel like researching at the moment and going to sleep would get his brother off his back.
"Yeah, alright." He agreed and wheeled over to the bed. Sighing, he wished he wouldn't have to change for bed, because although he would never admit it his wrist had begun to throb and sting a while ago. Closing his eyes for a moment, he briefly thought of just lying down in his jeans. He couldn't feel the material on his legs, no matter what it was, so why even bother to change? But of course he knew that although he couldn't move his legs the rough material would still rub against the skin and aggravate it during his sleep. He had tried it once a few years ago but Dean had nearly gone postal when he had noticed it.
It was things like that in which Sam just learned to deal with when it comes to Dean. Sam knew that his older brother felt responsible for him but he shouldn't have to feel the need to worry about every little thing that may happen to him. It was annoying.
Sam went to lift himself onto the bed without a second thought but as soon as he lifted his body his wrist shook with the sudden pressure and gave out on him. He slipped and nearly fell to the side but for once Sam was grateful that Dean's over-protectiveness had driven him to hover over his younger brother during such a simple task. Dean caught him easily, almost as if he had been expecting the mishap and with practiced ease helped transfer Sam onto the bed without blinking an eye. In a smooth motion Dean pulled the jeans from Sam's legs and covered his brother with the blanket.
Tiredly, Sam closed his eyes. Although his wrist still was throbbing like mad, he was glad that the cast finally had been removed. After six weeks of relying on his family's help, he was exhausted. Although he was grateful that Dean and his father always helped him without making a fuss it was getting on his nerves how drastically his independence had been limited during the time he had to wear the cast. The constant feeling of helplessness had just drained him emotionally. Guiltily, Sam thought of all the people that were worse off than him in so many ways. People that needed assistance for everything they did. People that couldn't eat on their own or even couldn't breathe on their own. The thought sent chills down the young hunter's spine. If his injury had been further up….
Sam felt deep gratitude wash over him when he realized that he still had been able to do a lot of things on his own. He was also thankful that Dean had been around all the time so John didn't have to help him with the big things. Sam felt his face redden on the mere thought of his father helping him in the shower. He loved his father and he knew that John would have helped him without a second thought but there were just certain things that a father shouldn't have to help his adult children with and again Sam was grateful for his awesome big brother.
Yawning, Sam watched Dean who was rummaging through the refrigerator as if he never had one and a half pizzas just an hour before. Speaking of awesome… Sam snorted. Since he had quit smoking Dean seemed to be eating all day long. Dean was doing well, still had his moments of course but he was continuing to take the pills and had even gotten off of the patches and gum, therefore removing nicotine completely from his diet. But by removing nicotine Dean had added much more food to his daily meals and snacks. It seemed like Dean didn't know what to do without a cigarette in his hand. He had always been smoking them and lighting them and without that distraction that took up so much of his days, Dean was unsure of how to occupy his hands. They had been constantly been moving beforehand and it didn't take long for Dean to find a substitute. Food, food and more food. Dean was filling the Impala with all sorts of snacks and junk food; it was constantly at his reach when they drove. Sam knew that when people quit their appetites tended to increase but Dean was like a whole new story because he had already loved to eat.
Sam didn't even know if Dean was conscious of what he was doing; it was just a natural thing, a habit to replace the smoking. But it was paying off in a way that Dean was undoubtedly uncomfortable about. He was gaining weight and even though he exercised and trained his body couldn't keep up with the alarming amount of food he was putting into it. His clothes now fit tighter around him and Sam knew that he had gone off to buy new sizes without letting anyone know, He saw Dean picking at the material of his shirts or adjusting his belts with a worried frown on his face but honestly Sam couldn't see why he brother would fret over it. It really wasn't that big of a deal, sure his brother had gained some weight in his face but the rest was just going for his stomach. And so what if his brother had a small gut now? The food kept Dean from smoking, kept him from hacking his lungs out and that's all that Sam cared about and John as well.
As planned both Sam and Dean had refused to tell John that Dean had given up smoking. Both brothers were curious as to how long it would take their father to realize what had taken place while he was gone. They didn't think John thought anything of it at first; he probably thought Dean was smoking when he wasn't around. But as time went by the clothes they owned started to smell less and less of smoke and Sam even caught John digging through Dean's bag and sniffing his clothes one day. His father had a surprised look on his face when all he could smell was the fading scent on a few articles of clothing. But John hadn't said anything, watching Dean chew gum and apply patches, he had only thought Dean was taking steps towards quitting, not actually taken the giant lead and had acted on it.
The day came when they had all taken a drive in the Impala over to a cemetery to complete a salt-and-burn. John must had noticed the empty ashtray and how the car had smelled as fresh as it ever had. With a frown on his face John had stared at the empty ashtray and made a show of sniffing the air. He finally asked to question.
"Dean, did you quit smoking?"
While Sam started to laugh, Dean flashed his father a bright smile. "Took you long enough to realize it, old man."
"I'll show you old man, smoke head. So what is this all about? You really quit?"
"Yeah dad, I did."
"Unbelievable." John congratulated Dean, told him how proud he was and they even went….
Sam hadn't even realized he had drifted off into sleep, so lost in his thoughts that were turning into dreams until his cell buzzed from beside him on the nightstand. He groaned and shifted so he was on his side. Dean was already in the bed next to him and John was on his, they were watching some TV show and simply spared Sam a short glance as he checked his phone. It was Jess.
Smiling, Sam leaned on his elbow for support and answered the phone.
"Hi Sam," he heard Jess's sweet voice. "How did it go in the hospital? Have you gotten rid of the cast?"
"Yeah, finally. The wrist is okay."
"So I guess you feel great now." Sam could literally see Jess's affectionate smile.
"If you don't count that I almost fell out of my wheelchair because the stupid wrist buckled, then yes, I feel great."
Jess giggled. "Give it some time." She laughed out loud when she heard Sam's snort. "I bet I'm not the first one who's telling you this. But it's just the truth. Take it easy. So what now? Where are you heading to? My way?"
Sam had promised Jess that he would try to find a hunt in her surroundings but till now there was just none. Regretfully, he shrugged, but then remembered that she couldn't see it. "No, I'm sorry. We're going to Holton, Kansas tomorrow."
"Kansas? Geez, that's not even remotely in my neighborhood. You have to do better, Sam."
Sam laughed. Her happiness was infecting. He decided to not tell her that Holton was the place he grew up. Not yet. Not before he knew more about the hunt and how the place and the people had changed. They talked about Jess's studies and Stanford for a while and then Sam hung up, after promising Jess to really try to find a way to meet her again soon.