Thank you again for your wonderful response to this story. It is done now and I will warn, this is just a fluffy chapter. I wanted comfort so here it is. I hope you like it. Again, unbeta'd so please excuse the mistakes.
Dean leaned against the opposite wall, folded his arms and watched his brother. "So what happened?" He finally asked, his attention flickering to the cross on the floor. The poor dead monk was still pinned beneath it.
Sam shook his head gingerly, in deference to its pounding. Bobby hadn't come back yet and Sam wasn't sure where the man had gone. He hadn't even noticed Bobby leaving. "I… don't know," he admitted slowly.
His brother's gaze searched his own but Sam was hiding nothing. He didn't know why the cross fell. Yes, his head was hurting, his nose bleeding, but he didn't feel anything like the psychic surge - the punch - he'd felt the only other time he'd used telekinesis. He reached up and dabbed at his nose, wiping the blood away with his hand. "Was... was it me?" he hated the tremor in his voice and lifted a shaky hand to shove at a shock of hair that fell in his face. It terrified him to think it might have been.
Dean's eyes softened at the tone. "I was kinda hoping you could tell me."
Tears welled again, bitter and salty, and Sam snorted. "Guess it depends on what I am, now doesn't it?"
Agitated, Sam stood, then leaned heavily against the wall when the room spun. Dean had his arm and was pushing his back down on the bed before his legs gave out.
"Hey, hey," Dean crouched down next to him now. "Take it easy."
"I'm okay," Sam lied as he lay on the bed and closed his eyes to wait out the wave of dizziness. It could have been a lingering effect of whatever Meg dosed him with... but since he hadn't been able to eat much in a couple of days, it could have been that as well.
"Yeah, well, we really have to work on your definition of that word," his brother grumbled but there was no heat in the tone. "You are anything but fine. Me now? That's a totally other conversation."
Sam gave him a moot look then groaned softly and shut his eyes again. Maybe it had been him…
"Hey, uh, Sam, I hate to come off as the insensitive jerk in the bunch and all, but I was hoping we could just grab your stuff and hi-tail it out of here – like now – before the Elder calls the cops. I'm not sure what story Bobby's going to spin him but… well, you know…"
Fear coiled in Sam's stomach and his eyes flew open. Leave?
"We could probably just say the cross fell off the wall and hit him – which is really the truth – but the stab wound's going to be a bitch to explain." Dean continued then crouched down by the cross. "Does this thing have any pointy edges?"
Carefully sitting back up, Sam stared at Dean helplessly. "I… I can't."
"You can't what?" Dean looked up at his brother in confusion then straightened back up.
"I can't leave."
Dean frowned. "What?"
"You heard me," Sam admonished as he stood, adrenaline keeping him on his feet. "I can't leave the monastery."
"Oh and why not?" Dean's patience was thread thin. Sam knew his brother well enough to know the man wanted to grab him and just get the hell out of here.
"Because," Sam was agitated now, angry at himself as the idea of leaving terrified him. "I just can't."
"Sam. That's not a reason, now I think I deserve-"
"I'm going fucking nuts okay? Is that what you wanted to hear?"
Dean frowned, "You're not crazy."
"You have no idea," Sam turned his back on Dean, his head bowed, his hands on his hips. "The things I hear in my head. The screaming – sometimes it's so loud… it hurts so bad I just want to blow my own freaking head off. And the blood-" He stopped.
"The blood?" His brother pressed, wariness creeping into his tone. "What about the blood?"
Sam whirled around, a storm of emotions bleaching his face as he stared at Dean, silently pleading for his big brother to make things better. "Everything I eat… tastes like blood."
"That why you're not eating?"
Sam was surprised Dean knew but then scoffed at himself. Of course Dean knew. Nodding Sam exhaled loudly and sat back down heavily on the bed before his legs gave out again. "Yeah," he admitted and glanced around the room, "but things are better here… At least I can sleep – sorta – and the voices aren't so loud."
"But you can still hear them?" Dean asked, taking a seat next to his brother, close enough that their thighs just brushed. Support without crowding. "And you're still not sleeping well… or eating?"
"Yeah," Sam agreed with a weak smile. "But I haven't felt the urge to eat lead in weeks. So that's something, right?"
Dean didn't find it funny. Instead he frowned worriedly and stared at the bare and bleak walls in this little room, trying to imagine living here. He couldn't. "So you traded one kinda prison for another, huh?"
Sam shrugged. "I guess. But at least the prayer groups here don't try to flay you."
Paling, Dean didn't say anything for a few minutes, just thinking about what his brother said, and about what his strong and courageous little brother's life had been reduced to. Not that living in a monastery was the worse thing in the world, no, Dean knew better, but he also knew it wasn't what Sam wanted and that made all the difference.
"Sammy you can't stay here."
Sam just looked at him and Dean corrected himself. "I can't leave you here."
"No, listen to me for a sec, okay?" Dean turned towards his brother. "I don't know what's going on with you, I'll admit that, but I don't believe for a second that you were brought back to live out your life here. I also don't believe that this isn't something we can't get beat… If there's one thing we've learned in all this, it's that you were right years ago when you told Dad that we are stronger together, as a family. Because, bro, we are. So come with me – come home and give me a chance to help you." Dean's eyes bored into Sam pleading with his brother to believe in Dean with the same kind of faith that had helped save them from Michael. "Please Sammy… I really want my brother back."
Tears ran unchecked down Sam's face. Dean could see his brother was torn and hurting. Struggling. And Dean responded. Tugging on Sam's arm, he pulled the kid into a tight hug. "It'll be okay," he promised wrapping his other arm around the broad back and holding on. Sam returned the embrace just as fervently, burying his face against Dean's shoulder. "We'll make it okay, little brother. I promise."
After a moment, he felt Sam nod his head, his muffled, "'kay," more than enough and then Sam sighed and pulled away.
"Okay," he repeated.
"If it gets too much, I'll bring you back," Dean searched his brother's face. "And we'll figure something else out."
Scrubbing a hand across his face, Sam let out a shaky breath. "We can leave… whenever."
Relieved, Dean gave a big smile and stood up, "All righty then," he glanced around the little room. "You got a bag for your stuff?"
"I don't have much, just a couple of shirts and another pair of pants. Not really mine though. We can leave them here." Sam admitted. "The Brothers gave 'em to me anyway." He stood up and started towards the door. "Let's just go."
Dean followed, not liking how much effort it seemed to take Sam to move. He needed to get something into the kid and soon before Sam did a nosedive. And that would bring them to their first obstacle. Getting Sam to eat.
The idea that everything his brother tried to eat tasted like blood bothered Dean and he wasn't sure if it was psychosomatic or a symptom of yet another problem that they were, as of yet, unaware.
Oh well, he thought as they made it out of the maze of corridors and towards the main door of the building, at least I still have his bag in the car. Nothing in Dean would let him throw his brother's things away. It had been the only thing left to show the world that Sam Winchester had been here. That Dean had had a brother. He glanced across at Sam, that he still had a brother.
Sam was quiet and stared to slow down the closer they got to the exit. Touching his brother's arm when Sam actually did stop, Dean tacitly offered his support and encouragement, relieved when the younger man started to walk again. He noticed how nervous Sam was and saw the deep breath the kid took in as he stepped outside, but Dean never said anything.
This was something Sam had to do for himself. All Dean could do was remind Sam, by being here, that he wasn't doing this alone anymore. Neither of them were.
Outside, Sam stopped and turned around to look back at the monastery. He was frowning.
"Everything okay?" Dean asked a bit nervously.
Tilting his head to one side as he continued to stare at the big stone building, Sam didn't answer at first. Then he shook his head, turned around and started walking again. "I don't know," was all he said.
"How's Lisa?" Sam suddenly asked when they crossed the quiet road to where Dean had left the Impala. Bobby's truck was gone and Dean knew they'd meet up again at the motel.
"Lisa?" Dean grimaced. "Ah, yeah, well… that didn't exactly work out."
Sam paused, reaching for the handle on the passenger side of the car. His face softened. "I'm sorry," he offered.
The genuine remorse in his brother's voice made something inside Dean ache. "Yeah, me too." He admitted as he walked around to his own side of the car and got in. Dean glanced to the right and watched, his eyes unexpectedly burning as Sam slid into the passenger seat.
"What?" Sam asked, self-consciously glancing around as Dean continued to look at him.
Swallowing hard, Dean forced his attention out the front and cleared his throat. "Nothing," he denied then paused and added. "Just… it's good to have you back again. That's all."
"Dean," the compassion in Sam's voice had Dean blinking furiously. Big grownup hunter's didn't cry like babies, he told himself.
"Sam," he countered whatever sappy thing his brother was going to say. "I'm hungry, let's go."
Sam knew what Dean was feeling because he felt it too. God, he never thought he'd ever sit in this car again. With his brother. And yet, here he was. And, damn it all, it felt right.
More than that; for the first time in a long time, Sam felt right.
He closed his eyes and settled back against the seat – his seat, his place – as the familiar rumble of the powerful engine soothed his jagged nerves and calmed his beleaguered mind.
The voices that had tormented were quiet.
The unease and fear that had riddled him, waylaid.
And when Dean shoved a cassette into the player and Metallica strummed out of the speakers, Sam smiled. He was home.
Bobby wasn't at the motel when they boys got there. He'd left a note at the front desk telling them to 'get your asses back to Sioux Falls'. So they did.
And he was in standing in the front yard when the Impala grumbled in, pulling Sam into a tight hug as soon as the younger man was out of the car.
"Damnit, boy, it's good to see ya," he hissed into Sam's shoulder before letting go.
Sam smiled wide, his dimples showing as he stepped back but didn't say anything.
"I hope you got food," Dean said by way of greeting, "I'm starved."
Bobby glowered at him then glanced questioningly at Sam, "What about you?" he asked knowing that Sam was still having some issues eating. Apparently things had gotten a bit better since their reunion though, as, according to Dean's call a couple of hours ago, Sam had actually been able to eat a whole bowl of vegetable soup.
Sam shrugged, his face guarded. "I could eat."
"Well good," Bobby nodded, pleased, that was a start. ""Cause I got tuna casserole." He'd purposefully stayed away from cooking anything with red meat.
Dean's eyes lit up. He loved tuna casserole and he was already rubbing his hands as he made his way towards the house. "Here fishy, fishy, fishy," he chanted making both Bobby and Sam grin as they followed.
Bobby cast a glance up at the younger man as Dean went inside and was probably halfway to the stove already. "So, how you doing, kid?"
Sam stopped at the door and looked at Bobby. He seemed to give the question some serious thought before answering. He nodded his head slowly as if it had only just occurred to him. "Good, Bobby. I'm doing good."
The old salvager felt something settle and he let out a relieved sigh and clasped Sam lightly on the back. "That's damn good to hear, Sam. Damn good. Now let's get in there before that brother of yours inhales the whole damn thing."
"He did just eat, an hour ago," Sam mused as he held open the door for Bobby.
Bobby fixed him with a scathing look. "Yeah, and?"
"Yeah, and…" Sam started to laugh – honest to goodness mirth – and Bobby found himself laughing with him. "Okay. I see your point."
From the kitchen, Dean yelled, "HEY!" and for the first time since Sam died in Cold Oak and Dean sold his soul, Bobby finally felt like things were going to be okay.
His boys, borrowed from John Winchester as they may be, were home…
Maybe not totally sound…
And at the end of the day, at the end of the story, that was all that really mattered.