Tag to 6.11 Appointment in Samarra

Same ol disclaimer: Nada for me

Step Nine

Leaning against the Impala, Dean watched Sam walk across the street to the little gas station, his tall frame silhouetted by the street lamp overhead, which seemed to circle Sam like a spotlight. Sam hesitated there. Dean shifted, ready to go with him, even though Sam insisted he needed to do this on his own.

Three months and three days, they'd been on this damn conscience clearing quest. Not exactly true, two weeks of that had been at Bobby's with Sam dogging the old hunter's every step. Sorry, I'm so sorry. Sorry I was going to kill you. Even though his chest was sore, scorched from having his soul driven unwillingly through his flesh, Sam worked himself to the bone as some sort of restitution. He scoured every pot, fixed a squeaky step, ran every errand, built Bobby new book shelves, a new shed, dug a shallow trench around the entire salvage yard, which he filled in with salt and cement.

Kid was exhausted. Like scrubbing a toilet could make up for almost stabbing a knife into their surrogate father's heart.

And Bobby had had enough. The onslaught of the man's breakdown terrified Dean. He'd never seen the old hunter's defenses so thoroughly breached. Tears wet Bobby's devastated features as the weathered hands locked around Sam's arms with a ferocity that shocked both brothers.

"Not another sorry. Not another gaddamned apology. I can't take it. I swear, boy, you are killing me."

Sam flinched. Dean flinched. Poor choice of words. "But Bob—"

"I mean it, boy. Working yourself to the nubs won't make it right."

Sam's gaze lowered to the floor. He nodded. His voice was a tight whisper. "I know." A little curl of pain flickered inside Dean's belly.

"Damnit, Sam." Bobby's hands moved to Sam's cheeks, forcing the young man to look at him. "That's not what I mean. You listen, you listen good. There's nothing you can do to make it go away. It happened. No going back. So we deal with it."

"I was going to kill you." Sam's chin quivered.

"Hell bent on it," Bobby roared. Dean remained very still. All of their it wasn't you, you had no soul, you're not responsible for what Robo Sam did pleas hadn't dented the armor of Sam's guilt. Maybe Bobby's tough love could finally get through.

"You're like a recovering alcoholic, trying to make amends to people who don't want to relive it. Step Nine, Sam. You can't make everything right when doing so would injure them or others. This," Bobby's hands left Sam to sweep through the air. "This, what you're doing, is hurting me. I want you to leave."

Sam's shoulders sagged inward, seeming to lose a good inch of his height. "I . . ." Whatever he wanted to say clogged in his throat. As much as Dean had missed the constant emotions that flickered across his brother's face in any given moment, this one, this sad destroyed look hurt.

Bobby turned his back on Sam, his features collapsing now that the younger man couldn't see him. "Just go. Go hunt something."

Eyes glistening, Sam nodded and headed sluggishly for the stairs.

Dean waited until he heard the tread of footsteps overhead and then slipped his palm over Bobby's shoulder. As though it was an anchor, Bobby's own hand slid over it. Head bowed, Bobby looked like he'd just gone ten rounds with a battering ram.

Dean gave the shoulder a squeeze. "You sure about this?"

"No." Bobby's voice was gruff. "But he needs to work through this. And being here, around me, reminded of what he almost . . . that isn't helping. Just go, get him out there hunting again, and Dean . . . you look out for that boy."

Dean smiled because they both knew that was the one thing he didn't need to be reminded to do. "Sure you don't want us sticking around for a few more days? Might get a new porch out of it."

Bobby's lips finally hitched up. "Idjit."

They hadn't been back to Bobby's. Though Dean called him periodically. What they had done was take on every hunt they could find while at the same time Sam dragged Dean across the country, looking up everyone he had wronged during the period without his soul. Not that Dean was against it, because focusing on making things right occupied him from scratching at Death's wall. Facing the things Sam's body had done topside couldn't begin to compare to what his soul had experienced down under.

But . . . Dean wasn't sure this was helping Sam. It seemed to just be crushing him further down into himself, making him close up. Those soulful hurt eyes would barely look Dean straight in the eye anymore though he felt Sam studying him often, turning quickly away whenever Dean looked back at him. And sometimes, although Dean didn't want him to, he really didn't want to have that conversation, he couldn't help wondering why Sam hadn't come to him, his own brother, with an apology of sorts. Not that he wanted the kid to beat himself up over it or even remember what had happened between them. Maybe he didn't. Or maybe it was just too big, too overpowering to think about the vampires. Maybe it wasn't big enough. After all, Dean had been cured. But still . . . it hurt. Just a little.

Of course before leaving for another make-things-right session, Dean dragged out of Sam each detail. He wasn't stupid enough to let Sam walk up to an angry grieving father with a shotgun or bar full of a vengeful coven no matter how guilty Sam felt. Some things weren't worth it and other things couldn't be put to rights. So far Dean had put his foot down on three of them, realizing nothing would come of it, but Sam being hurt. For the most part, the innocents Sam claimed he'd killed, weren't all that innocent. They'd made their own blunders into the supernatural, summoning ghosts or playing with witchcraft and instead of leading them out of harm's way, No Soul Sam had simply let their stupidity play out.

Except this one. The last person on the list. Dean shifted against the Impala. Sam still hadn't moved out from under the lamp post and it was starting to rain.

#

Sam felt frozen in place. He remembered this little mom and pop gas station, the couple who owned it, all the details of what he'd allowed to happen, yet it was all surreal as well, like watching memories scroll across a screen, seeing them through the character's eyes, yet not feeling it, not physically. He could not recall how the werewolf's fur felt on his hand or the whoosh and smell of rancid breath in his face when he shoved the silver blade into the stomach. Couldn't even feel the hilt for that matter. Because he hadn't really been there, not really. His brain simply registered it as fact.

It was all so strange. He remembered his thoughts, weighing options, deciding on the most favorable advantage to lure the beast in, the calculated risk of letting the mother, the wife, desperately believe the foolish notion that her daughter could be saved, turned back somehow if she called for the werewolf, scattered her scent around the woods . . .

Why would he let a mother believe that? The pain of thinking he could cure Madison when he couldn't was a constant pain in his gut. He didn't understand how he could have let that mother go through the torture of having that same hope heightened and then ripped away. Or why he'd just stood there and nodded without a single thought drifting back to the first woman he had been with since Jessica and then shot.

Jessica.

Rain drizzled onto his face, fat drops, velvet soft like blood dripping from the ceiling.

Sam lifted his palm, let the rain fall on it, crimson silk. He jerked back. Blood splattered from the sky, splashed on the asphalt where the red liquid sluiced into cracks where gnarled withered hands lifted out of the pavement like daisies thirsting for the sun.

Hell. Hell had found him. No, no, he hadn't scratched at the wall. Dean had explained the danger in that, even though it loomed like a giant writhing mass. He'd kept his distance, focused on hunting, on making amends. Blood splashed all over the limbs rising from the ground, coating fingers and arms.

"Sam!"

Dean spun him around and for a moment the world tilted, shifted beneath Sam's feet. When it righted there was only rain, only pavement. Only Dean.

He quickly looked away from his brother's worried gaze. Too intense. Too Dean. He couldn't meet it, not when all he saw was that damn vamp's blood pouring into Dean's mouth while he just stood there and let it happen, realizing this was a perfect opportunity. No! No. Sam slammed those thoughts away, hastily constructing precarious walls of his own, which kept tumbling every friggin time he looked at his brother.

He realized he was breathing heavily. Hell coming for him and now Dean . . . and Sam couldn't keep his emotions controlled, couldn't just look away, pretending he didn't remember. He couldn't make it stop, not this time.

"Sam, what is it? This is a tough one, I know." Dean was giving him the perfect out. The girl, the werewolf. Dean thought he was freaked out over that. Well, he was, but . . . God, Dean. He'd let Dean get turned. He'd let him run off to Lisa's, nearly got her and Ben killed . . . ruined Dean's apple pie existence without a thought. Sam's throat was closing up.

"Come on, man. You're scaring me." Dean was practically holding him off the wet ground now. "We don't have to do this tonight."

It wasn't the right out, but it was an out so Sam took it. "Yeah, okay."

"Okay?" He felt Dean's gaze pouring over him though Sam was too ashamed to return it. "Okay, good. This . . ." Dean glanced back at the gas station. "This will still be here tomorrow if you want it."

"I want it," Sam choked out. He had to do this. Had to do what he could even though it wouldn't ever matter, wouldn't ever bring a girl back or her mother who only wanted to save her.

With one final look at the road, making sure there weren't any hands reaching out to grasp him and pull him under, Sam let Dean guide him back to the car.

TBC

Step 9 of the 12 Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.