9 Weeks Later – Sioux Falls, South Dakota
"Don't be such a whiney ass, Dean." Shane grumbled, but still smiled at his younger sibling. Dean was stretched out on his back and Shane was helping him with his exercises to strengthen his back and his muscles.
"I'm not whining. You're freaking worse than Dad, I thought he was the slave driver, but you're so taking that title." He grunted as he pushed once more against Shane's hand.
"Hey, I'm not that bad. Come on, only two sets left." Shane replied and helped Dean with the last of his exercises before he helped him cool down and then brought Dean's wheelchair forward so that Dean could get in.
Shane smiled at Dean's ability to get into his wheelchair with so much ease. It's been a hard nine weeks for all of them, but Dean took it in stride. He has started to walk again with the aid of crutches, but after his physical therapy sessions his legs didn't want to hold his weight, so it's easier for him to move around in the chair.
"Where's your trusted side kick?" Shane asked as he realized that Sam was not in the room with them.
Dean sighed. "Most likely in his room, it's where he always hides."
"Dean," Shane started to say.
"No, don't Dean me. Damnit, Shane it's been six weeks since we've all been released from hospital and three weeks being here and he still hasn't said a word. He refuses to be in the same room as any of us as soon as he sees we're going to do therapy and I don't understand why. The fact that he's not talking, just makes it worse."
"I think I know why he leaves every time." David spoke up as he entered the room. He had heard Dean's words to Shane. Using his own crutches he eased himself down on the couch next to Dean's chair.
"He feels guilty."
Shane frowned and Dean groaned. "I'm so fucking stupid. Why didn't I realize it sooner? He's feeling like all of this is his fault. If we didn't find him, we wouldn't have been injured."
"You had a lot on your plate, Dean." David placed his hand on Dean's shoulder.
"That's not an excuse, David and you know it." Dean snapped back and then raised his hand to apologize. "I'm sorry; I had no right to snap at you."
David smiled. "I know you didn't mean it."
"What are we going to do?" Shane asked as he looked up the stairs to see if he could catch a glimpse of their youngest brother.
"Something that I had to have done nine weeks ago." Dean mumbled and then pushed his chair forward. "It's time I get into that silly head of my brother and sort this out. He will be talking before the end of this day or I will personally kick his behind."
Shane smiled as he heard Dean's promise, but he also couldn't help but to think back on the weeks that had gone pass.
Both him and David recovered remarkably fast. The concerns they had over David's concussion, was soon laid to rest and by the end of the week when Dean started to awake the twins were well on their way to recovery.
Dean was an emotional wreck when he first came too, not even wanting to believe that Sam was alive. He kept on saying and believing that it was all a dream and that Sam was not in the bed next to him, until they moved his bed right up next to Sam's so that he was able to touch his brother. He'd suffer from no brain damages, except that he was a bit vague on what had happened in the cave.
When the specialist informed him of his injury, Dean shrugged it off, saying he would walk again, because Sam would need him too. From the first time they started with his physical therapy he gave nothing less than a hundred and ten percent. By the time they left for Bobby's place he'd already given his first steps and they all knew he'd done it for one person only and it was not for himself.
Sam was a different ball game all together. They'd kept him in a coma for longer than a week as his body thought against various infections. After they stopped the drugs that kept him under it took a further two days for him to open his eyes for the first time and even that hadn't gone without a glitch. He'd awaken to a nightmare, screaming so hard that the nursing staff all came bursting through the door. He refused to be touched by anyone, not even Dean could seem to get through to him and he hadn't said a word. Even his dreams only contained whimpers, moans and screams.
It took Dean a week before Sam would allow him to touch him and from that moment for the first three weeks he refused to let Dean out of his sight. They even had to sedate him to take Dean for scans of his back. With Dean's help and the rest of their patience, Sam allowed them near him, but no one was allowed to touch him.
By the end of the first month that improved to such an extent that Dean no longer had to be in the same room and Sam was satisfied if he could see either one of his other brothers or their dad to remain calm.
It's been great to see him being able to be alone in a room without panicking, but what saddened it all was the fact that he didn't talk. Not one word. At first they thought that there might have been damages to his voice box after the strangulation, but all was normal. Sam just wouldn't talk.
"Dean, are you sure about this?" John asked again as he picked up the last duffle bag to take it out to his truck.
"Dad, I'm sure. It's the only way to do it. We'll be fine. It's been a while since any of us slept in a motel, so enjoy it, and since you don't want me to drive the only way to do this is for all of you to go away. It's only for one night. You can all come back tomorrow." Dean slapped his dad on the back as he leaned heavily on his crutches.
They had no choice. The only way for them to get Sam to talk and to open up was to do it Dean's way.
"Okay, but call if you need something."
"I will, Dad. Now, get going, the others will wonder what happened to you." Dean hugged his dad close and waited for John to drive off before he turned around and headed back into the house again. It was time for operation Sam to start.
"Sammy!" Dean called up to the second floor where he knew Sam was seated. He waited and after a minute of dead silence he bellowed again. "Sammy, come on dude, get down here!" This time he could hear movement from upstairs and he smiled.
When Sam appeared on the top of the stairs Dean spoke up again. "Come, I need help." He didn't say with what but just turned around on his crutches and walked off towards the kitchen. He knew Sam would follow him.
In the kitchen Dean indicated Sam to the pantry, "get us what we need to make some waffles, I've been dying for one for a while now and there was just no way I was going to make a million waffles to satisfied Dave's appetite for it." Dean took out a mixing bowl from the cupboard and placed it on the table. When Sam returned with the dry ingredients, Dean sent him to fetch the ingredients they needed from the fridge while he started making the batter. He kept on talking about silly things, not once pressuring Sam to respond in any way. That time would come soon enough.
Within minutes the first waffle was in the pan and the sweet aroma filled the air. Dean quickly made all the waffles and as he waited for them to cook through he sliced up some fresh fruit and whipped up some cream. Even when it come to stuff like waffles, Sam liked the healthier option, normally eating his with the fruit and cream, ignoring the traditional way with ice cream and syrup.
"You'll eat the whole one." Dean placed the plate in front of his brother and couldn't help but to smile at Sam's eyes that grew huge. He knew Sam was hungry, the kids stomach already made itself known earlier.
Dean waited until Sam tucked in before he bit into his own waffle as well. They ate in total silence, but still the atmosphere was relaxed. Dean smiled when he saw Sam actually managed to finish his waffle. Things were off to a good start.
"Help me clean up here and then you and I are going to go for a walk." Dean nudged at Sam as his brother's shoulders slumped. He ignored it as they cleaned the kitchen up.
"Okay, let's go. There's a backpack in Bobby's study, would you please get that for us." Dean instructed Sam and watched as his brother left to fetch the bag. He made no mention of what it contained, but waited patiently for Sam to return.
Dean lead the way out of the house, taking the all familiar footpath at the back that lead to a small brook at the end of Bobby's premises. It was not a far way to go and the terrain was fairly even so Dean had no trouble in navigating his way to the shady spot next to the stream. Once they arrived at the lush green grass he put his crutches next to the tree and gently lowered himself to the ground. He yawned and smiled at Sammy. "Going to take a nap, you want to join me?" He wasn't surprised to see Sam shaking his head. Sam tried to avoid sleeping for as long as possible and with the nightmares he experienced Dean could understand why. Dean closed his eyes after making sure that Sam was seated next to him and quickly his breathing evened out as he slipped into a light slumber.
Sam looked on as Dean settled in to take a nap. Dean knew he loved this spot. Ever since they started to come to Bobby's place and they discovered this spot it had been his favorite. There was just something about the serenity of the place that calmed him down.
Sam knew it has been a difficult time for his family and their friends. He knew that him not talking to anyone of them wasn't helping the situation at all. He wished he could explain it to them. He wished he was able to open up and tell them all about his fears and his nightmares, but he was scared. He could remember what had happened in the cave. In his dreams he could still feel the ghost's fingers on him and even worse, those things pushed up into him. He could hear those fucking lyrics over and over in his head and he even found himself humming it silently as he stood in the shower some evenings. What made it worse was that he could hear his own screams and pleas for the spirit to stop. He could still remember on how he screamed his own voice hoarse for his family to help him, but no one came. He couldn't explain to them that he was scared that should he open his mouth and say something that he might wake up and find that all of this was a dream, that he was still trapped in that cave with that ghost, being tortured again and again. He knew the likelihood of that being the case was zero, but it was one chance he couldn't take.
Sam took in Dean's crutches and another wave of guilt hit him squarely in the chest. It hurt so bad that he placed his hand over his heart to rub the ache away. Because of him, his brothers could've died. Already they were never going to be the same. Dave will suffer from chronic headaches as a result of the concussion he suffered, the pins in his ankle gave him limited mobility in his leg, and although his limp was almost unnoticeable, Sam easily saw it, because it was his fault.
The fact that Dean was still bound in a wheelchair certain hours of the day, that he couldn't drive his car, or even climb up stairs properly, made Sam want to curl up in a ball and just forget to breathe. All of it was his fault. He couldn't understand why his family still cared for him and loved him. He was useless and not worthy of their praise or even their attention.
"You know all of those thoughts that are running through your mind are incorrect." Dean's voice sounded up next to him and Sam nearly jumped at the sound of it.
He lowered his head and then silently shook it. He didn't even bother to look at Dean.
"Sammy, come here." Dean beckoned him to his side and waited patiently for Sam to scoot closer. When Sam didn't lean against him as he always did, Dean dragged him closer until he was in the position he always was.
"The last time you and I really talked was before you disappeared and I found you in the cemetery." Dean pulled Sam to him as the younger man tried to push away. "I found the faxes in Dad's study, Sammy. I know why you went off like that." Dean snorted. "If there's one thing that can be said about Winchester men is that we're so freaking unbelievably hard headed, stubborn and in a way very selfish. We always want to do what's best for one another, never thinking of ourselves or what our impact our actions would have on the rest of the family. To us it's easy – if I can take the blame on my shoulders or if I can make sure that the next monster gets me instead of someone else, then so be it. If it means that I die and my family lives then that's fine, that's the way it should be. But, there's something that each and every one of us forgets every time. We only have each other; we're not a complete unit unless we're all together. Sometimes we must stop being selfish and just for one moment think about what impact our actions have on the rest of the family. Just as we must stop carrying the guilt that you got raped and injured, because we couldn't find you in time, where in fact we all knew we did everything in our power to find you, you must stop taking the blame that myself, Dave and Shane got injured because of you. Sammy, it's not your fault. Blaming yourself; us blaming ourselves is not going to help. We as a family must stick together and fight together."
Sam whimpered at the word rape, it was one aspect that he tried to ignore, but with a brother like Dean it was nearly impossible. He couldn't understand why his family blamed themselves for what had happened to him, they didn't go off on their own and they did find him. They weren't suppose to have guilt in this. Sam knew he had to explain and he could only hope that if he did speak up, his worst nightmare won't come true.
"But it was my fault." Sam's voice was raspy and he cleared his throat. If felt strange to talk.
"No, it wasn't your fault. Nothing that happened these past months could be placed in front of your door, Sammy." Dean pushed Sam's bangs out of his eyes and smiled softly. It was great to hear his brother's voice again. "You didn't make a deal for my life," Dean held up his hand as Sam shook his head. "I'm not putting the blame on Dad or Mom either. The YED saw an opportunity and he took it and he started a chain of events. When Dad helped out Rachford, he never thought that that bastard would try to seek revenge and come after you. If you want to blame someone or something then blame them, but not yourself."
"What about the thing of the guardian and the oracle?"
"It's only you baby brother that would become something out of a prophecy. But I can tell you one thing, whoever that so called guardian might be, he must remember something – you're my brother and I protect you and we don't need him, so if he wants to come and make trouble he's got another thing coming. As for the rest of that, we'll deal with it when the time comes. If Bobby interpreted that prophecy correctly then we got time to prepare and be ready. In the meantime, I would say it's your job to complete school and become your own man." Dean smirked, "that's now with some help of your awesome big brother, Dean."
"I know and I can understand that. But, we're here for you, Sammy. You can talk to anyone of us and if you feel you want to talk to someone else, like a psychologist then tell us that. We'll always help you."
Sam shook his head. He will never talk to some stranger. With Dean's assistance and patience he would be able to tell his family about all of his fears and how dead he feels inside. He knew he should've start talking to them weeks ago - they would always help him. There was something else that bothered him as well. "What, what about my so called gifts?" Sam shivered.
Dean took Sam's shake of the head for what it was. Even when he suggested it, he knew Sam would not talk to someone like a psychologist. Dean would make sure that Sam opened up to him and to his family. Dean smiled at Sam's last question in an effort to make sure Sam didn't see how freaked out he was over that. "Well, I thought that we could go to Vegas and play the tables?"
"Bitch." Dean smiled and then hugged Sam closer. "Sammy, we'll deal with it. You've always been the freaky one, and this is just something that we'll handle. Don't let it ruin your life." Dean took a deep breath. "I want to show you something, so pass that backpack to me, please." Dean took the bag and opened it up. Inside it was an old book and some loose papers.
"You still need to get your tattoo and although you're not eighteen yet, we've decided that it was time." Dean pulled Sam closer as his brother shivered. "I know the thought of needles are frightening to you, but it needs to be done. I want to show you what Bobby has come across. It's even stronger then our anti possession tattoos and we all want you to get it." Dean opened the book and showed the designs to Sam. He went through every drawing, showing Sam how he incorporated the different sigils into a tattoo that looked more like a Celtic drawing than anything else. "This one will come just here." Dean pressed his fingers on Sam's nape and it will be connected to this one." Dean turned the page and showed Sam another integrate knot design which comes here." Dean stretched out his own arm and showed his wrist. "It will be tattooed onto my wrist and it will double the strength of your tattoos. It can't be broken and you'll be safe."
"That's a binding tattoo. It binds us together." Sam frowned.
"It does, but not in a bad way. It just means that we're stronger together." Dean explained. "Bobby has all the details; he'll be able to explain it better."
"You're willing to do this for me?" Sam looked through his bangs at Dean.
"Yes, because you're my baby brother. Dad placed you in my arms on that night; you'll always be my responsibility."
"Thanks, Dean." Sam smiled softly as he pushed himself deeper into Dean's embrace. He was still scared, still unsure on how to deal with everything that had happened to him, and he had no idea what the future held, but for the moment he had his family – he had Dean and for now this was enough – with them by his side he could deal with it all. The rest could wait.
AN: Well, there you go - all done and dusted. Thank you to my lovely beta, Kayla (eideticMeMoRy22) for all her hard work on this story. To each and every one who read, reviewed or added this story to their favorite list, a huge thank you!
I also need to thank amazing authors like Cindy123, Vonnie836, Sammygirl1963, Marianna Morgan and many more for all of their stories that inspired me to write my own.
I can tell you that there will be a sequel to this story, unfortunately I can't say exactly when.