Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural
Summary: Two months after sending Dean out of her life for the seemingly final time, Lisa Braeden finds herself thrust back into the world of the Winchesters where their choices have began to take their toll on the youngest Winchester. She is certain something is wrong with Sam, but with Bobby's refusal to be considered an accomplice, can she convince Dean that Sam needs help before it is too late? Unstable Sam. Not Lisa-centric. Rated for swearing and possible violence.
Author's Note: This is set roughly two months after Sam gets his soul back. Truthfully I don't really have the time to be writing fics, but I absolutely love Supernatural and this idea has been floating around my head for a good few months. Let me know what you think =D
Dean was full of sighs nowadays.
"Maybe another day Sammy," he mumbled, scrubbing his hands over his face and sounding like he had the weight on the world on his shoulders. Sam rolled his eyes: 'maybe' had become Dean's stock answer to everything, like Sam was some clingy kid with ADHD.
Sam pursed his lips. Dean had been like this ever since they had left Sioux Falls. He knew Dean was hurt, having to leave Ben and Bobby and Lisa behind, but really it was for the best. They did not understand, wanted to split them up because they thought it would be better for his recovery.
"It'd be fun," Sam pressed and moved himself in front of the television, blocking Dean's vision. Dean sighed. Again.
Being on the run was not supposed to be fun, but Sam had never remembered it being so boring. Dean claimed they had shirked their usual motels for a fancy hotel in New York City to throw everyone off their trail; it was impossible, he said, to find two brothers in the city that never sleeps, especially when they didn't usually spend time in places with good movies on pay per view. But how often did they get the time to stay in places with revolving doors and bellboys and room service?
"Not right now Sammy."
He always called him Sammy, like he was trying to appease him. Like a childhood nickname could soften the rejection.
"Let's order a pizza."
"You just had a pizza. Move Sammy. Can't see the TV."
Sam reluctantly clambered on to the bed and settled next to his brother, allowing himself to sink into the mattress. The beds had given Sam the best nights sleep in his life, at least he liked to think they would if he could get more than a few hours a night.
"Lets hunt something. There's gotta be tons of ghosts in New York City." Sam didn't really want to hunt, in fact he hadn't left the hotel room since they had checked in over a week ago, but Dean loved hunting. And if Dean was happy, Sam was happy.
"Doubt it Sammy."
"What? Ghosts only like small towns?"
"Then why not? Salt and burn – it'd be easy"
"Don't really feel like it right now Sammy. Another time alright?"
Dean looked over at his younger brother, who stared mournfully at his legs. Dean couldn't stop the sigh that escaped him as he realised he had shot down one too many ideas for the morning.
"Alright then. Order another pizza," he tried to inject some enthusiasm into his tone, but Sam had already lost interest. He shook his head and began to pick at his jeans. Secretly, Dean was relieved he would not have to face the silently raised eyebrows of staff wondering why they were being made to make pizzas at six in the morning, but a judgemental-free morning was nothing if it meant having to deal with another mood.
"Donuts?" Dean offered. Sam hesitated and for a moment Dean thought he had averted another crisis, but with a frown Sam slowly shook his head. "C'mon. I feel like donuts," he tried again, giving Sam a playful nudge. "Donuts and a horror movie. If you're good I might even let you watch a chick flick, heard they got a new Aniston one." Sam continued to focus on his jeans. "C'mon, I know you were looking forward to that one." Dean had hoped for a smile, maybe a shove and an insult, the dream result would be the most epic of bitchfaces, but Sam seemed content to just stare blankly at his legs.
"I'm getting us donuts." Dean resolved. Sam looked up in a panic.
"You're going out?" he asked in that tone that Dean wished he would stop using, because damn if it made him sound all of five.
"Room service doesn't do donuts Sammy," Dean said cheerfully as he slipped his boots on.
"You coming?" Dean asked as he shrugged on his jacket. Sam ran his hand through his hair. "It's just 'round the corner."
"I don't want any donuts," Sam protested.
"You won't be saying that when I come back. Get'cha shoes on. It's krispy kremes."
Sam looked stricken. He didn't trust the city and Dean knew it: so many people, so easy for all the monsters and demons to blend in. There was a reason the hunts were always in the small towns – you never heard about all the missing persons and murders in a city so big.
"They have pie here," Sam pleaded, throwing the room service menu at his brother.
Dean batted the projectile away dismissively, "Pie here sucks. I want donuts Sammy, you coming or not?"
Sam looked close to tears, torn between leaving the room and being alone. In the end the safety of their room won and he shook his head.
"Doors and windows are salted. I'll be ten minutes, max." Dean promised already beginning to wonder if forcing some progress on his brother was a bad thing. Sam nodded and gave Dean a strained smile. Dean was halfway out the door when he felt an anxious tap on his shoulder. He turned to find Sam holding out Ruby's knife.
"Take it." He insisted. Dean knew better than to argue.
Dean's heart sank as he closed the room door behind him. Sam was anxious and restless today; it was never a good combination. For a moment he contemplated going back in the room. On their first day in New York, Sam had seen Ruby smirking at him from the other side of Times Square. Since then he had insisted Dean stay with him in the safety of their salted room. It had been fine at first, but Dean was beginning to get cabin fever.
The walk to get donuts was short, refreshing, but Dean immediately began to regret his decision when he stepped inside. The queue was huge, but he did not have any other options. He did not want to leave Sam alone for an extended period of time, but turning up without donuts could incur his brother's suspicions. So far he had trusted Dean completely, but it had not taken much for him to turn against Bobby.
He needs to gain some independence. Kid can't rely on you his whole life. What about you? You supposed to wipe his arse till he keels over?
Bobby's words resonated in his head. They could not sit in a hotel room forever. Eventually Sam would have to leave the room, or at least allow Dean to. The prospect of getting laid while Sam sat hunched up in the bed a foot away was too awkward to even think about.
The pride of his purchase was enough to stop Dean thinking about Sam on the walk back. He chomped on a jelly filled, glowing with satisfaction as the lift took him back up to the 19th floor. He completely forgot about Sam having a possible meltdown until he knocked on the door.
"Sam?" he called when the door didn't immediately open. He rapped again, louder. "Sammy?" Silence.
Dean balanced the box of donuts in one hand as he rooted around his pockets for the spare room key. After a few near misses he successfully slid in the key card. The second the door opened, he regretted even thinking about donuts.
He had expected, at most, to find Sam hunched up on the bed or huddled in the corner. He had hoped to find him absorbed in a soap opera, or on his laptop googling geeky stuff for fun, just like old times. Instead he found an empty room full of salt.
"Sammy?" Dean called out tentatively. There was no answer.
Salt was trailed across the hotel's furnishings, in huge, thick lines, more than Dean could care to count. Empty salt bags lay discarded in a heap by the closed bathroom door. It was only then that Dean began to see the pattern: the lines vaguely resembled semi-circles, the focus being the bathroom door.
Still clutching the donuts Dean slowly moved towards the bathroom, stepping carefully over the increasingly shaky salt lines. No doubt he would have to prove to Sam he had stepped over unbroken lines with ease.
"Sammy?" he called through the closed door. "'S me, can I come in?" There was no answer.
He gave the door a tentative push and was relieved to find it unlocked. The second the door opened, freezing cold water and a bag full of salt were thrown into his face. There was a moment's hesitation before Dean found himself pulled into a hug. He stifled a curse as the donuts went flying.
"Thought she got you. You said ten minutes. It's been forty! I waited and waited but you didn't come. I thought she got you!"
Dean's shoulders sagged as Sam began to sob on his shoulders.
"Someone was banging on the door. Wouldn't stop. I thought she got you."
"Alright Sammy. Relax. I'm fine. No demons or monsters I promise; just lots of fat cops wanting donuts, alright?" he rubbed small circles on Sam's back, briefly wondering if someone really had knocked on the door.
Sam sniffled and pulled away "you mad at me?"
"For what?" Dean asked, though he was afraid of what the answer might be.
Sam's eyes darted guiltily to the bathroom. Dean took a deep breath before he ventured inside. Tens of signs and sigils had been scratched into the wall, all of them protective.
Dean closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. Calm, he chanted inwardly, calm and understanding. As much as he wanted to berate and swear, Dean knew he could not react anger, not when Sam was in the state he was in. The last time he had shouted at Sam the results had been less than ideal; finding a runaway hunter would be much harder in New York than it had been in Sioux Falls.
"No, course not." Dean said with a smile. It was forced as hell but Sam did not seem able to tell the difference. Dean looked down at the discarded box of donuts, half were a lost cause but he could see a few that were worth salvaging. "The donuts on the other hand…"
For a split second Sam looked fearful, but he quickly picked up on his brother's playful tone.
"Don't worry bout it. I'm having that jam one though…"
Dean's dismissal of events had the desired effect; he let out a sigh of relief as Sam offered him a shy grin. Dean flashed his brother a smile in return, it did not reach his eyes but again Sam did not seem to notice, and immediately began to scoop the salvageable donuts back into the box.
Dean managed to hold the smile while Sam devoured most of the donuts, completely absorbed in the television. He held his brother while he cried and fretted about the morning's incident, offering reassuring smiles whenever Sam looked up at him through red eyes. He kept it together until Sam fell asleep halfway through Fight Club. Slowly he gathered the destroyed donuts and dropped them into the bin. Sam's little meltdowns were always emotionally exhausting and not for the first time that week, Dean began to wonder if he was doing the right thing.
With one last look over his shoulder at his sleeping brother, Dean walked into the bathroom and locked the door behind him. He slumped onto the floor, leaning heavily on the bathtub and stared up at the sigils. This was not a grimy motel. They could not just cut and run, knowing they would never have to look back. Fancy places like their current haunt actually gave a shit about unpaid debts. When they moved on Dean would have to somehow get hold of some more credit cards without word getting out to Bobby about their current location: the old man had eyes and ears everywhere.
Why does this shit always happen to me?
As pathetic as it was, Dean could not stop the self-pity flowing whenever he had a minute to himself. Sam had always gone on about the family being cursed, and Dean had laughed it off, refusing to accept the tiny voice in his head that agreed. Now, well now there was no doubt about it. Just when things were looking up they had crashed back down again.
In hindsight, it was pretty obvious that it was just the calm before the storm. At the time he had blissfully – and perhaps pretty naively – seen it as some sort of reward for stopping the apocalypse and saving lives on a daily basis. But then again, when had the job ever been about rewards and recognition. Sighing, Dean began to knead his temples with his thumbs.
1 Month Ago
Would it be appropriate to make an awkward turtle?
Ben Braeden looked between the two adults and quickly decided against it: though both were a little more knowledgeable on all things popular culture than they would like to admit, they probably would never understand anyway.
Dean was on edge, he could tell by the way he sat hunched over the steering wheel, eyes flickering to the mirrors every so often, as if he expected something to appear in the middle of the road. Lisa was pressed up against the window, trying to put as much distance between herself and Dean as possible. Ben did not need to see her face to know her jaw was set, eyes staring blankly straight ahead. She hated being wrong, they both did, but Ben had known there was something wrong. Okay, so maybe he had been more concerned with the fact that his mother was moving on so quickly after telling anyone who would listen that Dean had been the love of her life, but if he had not called Dean they would both be dead. Ben sank into the backseat, relishing the feel of the worn upholstery against his bare arms. He had always wanted to go for a ride in the Impala, but Dean had put it under some tarp the second he arrived at their house almost two years ago.
Dr call-me-Matt. Dr I-know-this-is-fast-but-I–think-I-could-love-you. A demon. Who would have thought?
Everything had happened so quickly. One moment Dean and Dr. Demon were giving each other the stare down, the next the doctor was taking a flying leap across the room and Dean was hurtling salt everywhere.
There had been an interrogation. Ben had not been allowed to watch, but he had heard a few screams and his mother had looked a little distressed when she came up to his room and told him to pack. He tried to imagine Dean being all hardcore, slicing and teasing, like something out of a movie. Lisa had tried to shield Ben's eyes from the bloody trail smeared all over the new kitchen linoleum and even Dean had looked a little embarrassed by his fascinated gaze. Of all the people to treat him like a child it would be Dean, never mind that by the time he was his age he had already killed.
Battle Creek was not safe. It did not matter that Dean had left them months ago, apparently they were still a potential weapon to be used against him. Dean had promised he would find who had ordered the attack and get rid of them; it was hard even for Lisa to dismiss his antics as worthless when he started speaking like…well like a hunter. He was taking them somewhere safe, somewhere where nothing could touch them. That was the only down side to the whole thing, because as much as Ben wanted to spend time with Dean, he was not too sure he wanted to end up back at Bobby Singer's place.
Ben's spirits sank a little as the Impala rumbled up to the junkyard. He would not have minded had Bobby's TV not been an ancient 20" thing with a weird antenna. For a brief moment Ben entertained the notion of finding a 150" mammoth with surround sound, high definition and a limitless supply of blu-rays.
Lisa was still being pissy as they carted their belonging up the steps and onto the front porch. Dean stopped in front of the door and Ben could see the beginnings of a reassuring expression on his face when the door flew open.
Lisa didn't remember Sam being so…
She paused and searched for the word. Happy? Excitable? Geeky? Eccentric? Odd? He had always hung in the fringes, silent but undeniably present. Now?
He did not say hello to Ben or Lisa, just pulled Dean through into Bobby's study and began to talk a mile a minute. It was all nonsense to Lisa, monsters and demons and mothers and kings of hell, but Dean nodded thoughtfully and sifted through the papers that Sam thrust at him. It was only through watching Bobby Singer that her mind began to wonder if something was up. She watched as the hunter's expression shifted from a similarly attentive expression to one of confusion and ultimately a face so downcast she began to wonder how Sam and Dean could remain oblivious.
"What do you think?" Sam finished, staring eagerly into his brother's face.
Dean ran a hand over his face and for a split second he looked weary before he flashed his brother a proud grin, "sounds, good Sammy."
That was when Lisa knew something was wrong.
Lisa waited until Sam was buried in papers and Ben had set up his xbox before she cornered Dean. He stood with his back to her, staring out of Bobby's kitchen window and nursing a beer. With a look over her shoulder to check they were alone, Lisa began.
"What's wrong with Sam?" she asked. Dean froze, his neck disappearing into his shoulders.
"Nothing," Dean replied tersely. His defensive tone made Lisa begin to wish she had phrased it a little better.
"I mean… is he okay? He seems a little-"
"Sam's fine," Dean cut her off mid-sentence, his tone so authoritative she was almost afraid to keep pushing the subject.
"He doesn't seem fine," she pressed.
"He… had a few bad experiences. Probably a bit of Post traumatic stress disorder or whatever."
Lisa's eyebrows flew into her hairline and not for the first time she began to wonder about the true horrors Dean had seen if post-traumatic stress was something so easily dismissed. She thought back to her neighbour, an Iraqi war vet with no legs and a medal for his troubles; though she knew it was hardly the same as a degree in psychology, she was pretty sure Sam was not a trauma victim.
"Is he seeing a therapist?" she asked tentatively, though she already knew the answer. With such an aversion to hospitals, how likely was it that the brothers would seek help? Dean confirmed her thoughts with a small shake of the head
"Is he on any medication?"
"No!" Lisa jumped as the beer bottle went crashing down onto the floor. The sounds of Ben's video game paused and in the corner of her eye Lisa saw Bobby hover in the doorway.
"Sam's fine," he repeated before fleeing from the room. Lisa looked to Bobby, but all she found was a sad shrug before she found herself alone in the room.
Post traumatic stress disorder. Right. It was not unlikely, considering the wall was gone and Sam was just one big bundle of nerves. Dean stood in the doorway and watched his brother work. Sam was oblivious to his presence, scanning through huge tomes and scrawling notes. Every so often he would sit up straight, jolted by an idea and begin to scribble as furiously as ever.
They could not stop the wall from crumbling. Castiel had tried, bless him, he had spent ages rooting around inside Sam's body trying to fix it, but there was nothing to be done. Dean had been so grateful when Sam had woken up and not been a drooling mess. Sure he had been a little tearful about his soulless year and had a lot of nightmares, but overall he seemed fine.
Then Sam got scared. It had been a routine salt and burn, a nice traditional haunted house to ease Sam back into hunting after months spent tearfully relieving forgotten memories in Bobby's living room. The ghost had been harmless it turned out, just trying to make sure its remains were found, but that hadn't stopped Sam getting a little trigger happy with the shotgun. After he had a panic attack Dean knew there was no way Sam would be able to hunt for a while, at least on the field. He was still a research fiend, but after Bobby witnessed Sam freaking out at apparently nothing it was agreed that Sam should set up permanent residence in Sioux Falls, at least until he was feeling better anyway.
"Dean!" Sam's face lit up as he noticed his brother standing in the doorway. He leapt up, crossing the distance between them in seconds.
"So maybe I might have been wrong before, but I think I definitely know what we're dealing with."
"Alright then," Dean rolled his sleeves up to his elbows and clapped his hands together enthusiastically, "hit me."