Perchance to Dream

by Fraidy Cat

Chapter 2: Waking Up

…...

Dean trudged into the kitchen and crowded in next to Bobby, in front of the kitchen sink. He let the warm water run over his greasy hands and waited for his friend to pass the bar of industrial-strength soap. "Seen Sam?" he asked. "We left him on the porch after lunch, didn't we?"

Bobby finished with the Lava® and passed the bar to Dean. "By the time you rolled under the Dodge, he was wanderin' around the yard," he answered. "Watched us for awhile, but he didn't say nothin', so I just let him be."

Dean frowned as he scrubbed at his fingernails. "Dammit, Bobby, he could be anywhere! Why didn't you tell..."

Bobby interrupted, drying his hands with a towel that had seen its best days. "Don't get your britches in a twist, boy - I saw him head back into the house about an hour ago. He's probably upstairs takin' another nap. Wonder how long it takes to catch up on a year's missed sleep?"

Dean grunted and grabbed the towel out of Bobby's hands. "You could have started with that little bit of information," he complained, and Bobby grinned. Dean tossed the towel back at Bobby, but there was no heat in the throw, and he was grinning himself. Life was good, at least for the moment, and it had been bad for so long, and so many different times, that Dean was more than ready to take what he could get.

He left the kitchen, stopped in the living room long enough to perch on the arm of the couch and unlace his boots. He toed them off in the corner before he headed up the stairs. His sock-footed approach to the bedroom was quiet, and he rapped lightly on the door. "Sammy?" There was no answer, so Dean twisted the knob and pushed the door inward.

When he saw that Sam was sitting hunched over on his bed, wearing only his boxers and an old t-shirt that stretched too tightly across his chest and would have to be replaced sooner rather than later, Dean almost thought he was interrupting a private moment and backed out of the room. Then he figured out what Sam was doing; he was tracing the fresh scar on the back of his leg.

He moved into the room then, and sat next to Sam on the edge of the single bed. "Hey," he greeted. "What's up? That cut opening up again?" The injury had healed well during Sam's first five-day nap, but was still partially scabbed. Dean hadn't really looked at it in a couple of days, and experience had taught him that anything was possible.

Anything at all.

Sam straightened up and looked at Dean with an intensity that would have knocked him off his feet, if he had been standing. Dean was glad he was sitting down; he had forgotten how powerful Sam's emotions could be. Sam's eyes were wetly glistening, and Dean swallowed, suddenly nervous. "What? The cut?"

Sam shook his head, and a tear flew out of the corner of one eye, splashing onto his brother's cheek. "It wasn't a dream, was it?" he asked softly.

Shit. Dean didn't know how to respond to that, so he took the easy way out, and didn't say anything at all.

"Dream injuries don't leave scars. It was real. I tried to kill Bobby," Sam continued dully.

Dean finally found his voice. "You weren't in your right mind, Sam...or your right soul, I guess. It wasn't you. Not really."

"He had to drop me through a trap door," Sam remembered. "If you hadn't come back when you did..."

"Stop," Dean interrupted forcefully. "Just stop!"

Sam inhaled a shaky breath and closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them again, Dean wanted to cry at the pain he saw reflected there. "How many of the nightmares weren't dreams, Dean?" Sam asked. "Is Samuel really alive? Did I let my own brother get turned into a vampire?" Another tear escaped and rolled lazily down his chiseled cheek, and his voice became almost a whisper. "Did you give up your family for me?"

Dean felt the tears pressing at the backs of his own eyes, but he refused to give in to them. "Sam," he said. "Sam. How can you ask me that? Ever since I carried you out of that burning house, you've been the most important part of my family. That's why I couldn't let you go on, the way you were. I had to put you back together...for me, yeah, but for you, too. The Sammy I've known all my life had a soul that kept us all from crossing the line. Me, Bobby - even Dad, in his own twisted way. At the end, he made what he thought was a selfless sacrifice, he tried to do the right thing. The real Sam - you - you wouldn't want to be what you had become."

Sam turned his head toward the small room's window. "I wanted you to be happy," he said sadly. "I wanted you to have Lisa and Ben."

Dean had wanted that too, but sacrificing for Sam was something he had done - mostly willingly - all of his life, so the half-truths came to him naturally. "Don't get me wrong," he said. "Lisa and Ben are great. They were good to me. I care about them." He swallowed. "But they were always a substitute for you. Even Lisa knew that I only came to them because you were gone; she said that as soon as she saw you were back, she knew our days were numbered." Sam didn't reply, so Dean continued. "See, that's the Sam I'm talkin' about. The Sam who planned to give himself to Lucifer to save millions of people he didn't even know. The Sam who made me promise that I would go to Lisa. That's what's in you, Sam. That's what none of us can afford to lose."

A quick rap on the door stopped the longest chick flick moment of Dean's life, and he looked up gratefully to see Bobby standing in the half-open doorway. He regarded their old friend's impassive face, and wondered just how much he had heard. "You boys want to go into town for beer and a pizza?" Bobby asked. "Don't feel like cookin', tonight."

Sam was looking at the floor, now. "I can't believe you can stand to look at me," he said. "I can't believe you've been taking care of me, after what I did. I can't even believe you can be in the same house with me."

Bobby waited for a beat before he answered. Then he moved a little further into the room. "Don't know which one of us you're talking to, idjit, but I'm pretty darn sure we both share the same truth on this one. What you were, for the last year, that don't count no more. Hell, I've done some things during my time that would curl that long hair of yours. You don't know the half of it - but you know enough to know that it's true. But when I did those things, I wasn't myself; I was possessed, or livin' with somethin' possessed, or sitting on my ass in a chair for so long that I forgot who I was. Point is, you're Sam, again. That's all we wanted. Now. You hungry, or are you just gonna sleep all day? Again?"

Sam raised his head and blinked in Bobby's direction. "You guys want to go out in public? With me?"

Dean winked at Bobby, then slapped his brother on the knee. "We have to," he answered. "There's an Emo Special on Thursdays, but you have to bring your own Drama Queen. We can get a free pitcher of beer. Get dressed, Bitch."

Sam wiped at his face and rose somewhat shakily to his feet. "I guess I owe you that much, at least," he said.

"Nah," Dean answered, looking around the room and wondering where he left his boots. "You don't owe us a thing."

…...

End (this time I mean it)