Warnings: Violence, torture, Limp!Sam, Limp!Dean, Evil!Dean
Word count: 67 745 (so far)
Setting: Early Season 5 (after Good God Y'All!)
Summary: The fact that Sam jump-started the Apocalypse isn't as much of a secret as he thinks it is. He's on his own, away from Dean, and there are hunters out there that aren't keen to forgive and forget. They have Sam, and they want some payback - but they don't know Dean is coming for his baby brother.
A/N: This one has roots in Good God Y'All!/Free To Be You And Me (and probably a little Dark Side of the Moon, if I'm honest). They started the wheels turning, then a plot bunny attacked, out of nowhere, at 2am one morning...! I think I need to find some plot bunny traps: those furry little tormentors turn up at the most inconvenient times :p
(Finally, don't worry about Kate: she's not Sam's Lisa!)
As we know, Sam and Dean belong to Kripke & co. - I'm just borrowing their toys... If you recognise it, I don't own it!
Blue Springs, Missouri
Sam looked up from slicing limes, his attention drawn to the developing altercation on the other side of the bar. It was barely even dark yet and the natives were already getting restless: he just knew it was going to be a long night.
He sighed and went back to hacking up citrus, while a couple of bouncers broke up the fight before it could escalate beyond a shoving match. A tray landed suddenly on the bar in front of him, and he looked up to see Kate smiling at him from across the counter.
"Well, Tommy, don't you just look thrilled to be here on a Saturday evening!" The bubbly young waitress observed cheerfully, her silvery voice tinged with a hint of Southern drawl. She transferred the empty glassware off her tray to a space on the bench next to Sam, watching him as she did so.
"That obvious, huh?" Sam tried to smile, but it didn't quite reach his eyes. He'd been in Blue Springs for months now, and was used to people using his alias, but every time he heard it he was reminded why he couldn't use his real name.
Kate raised her eyebrows at Sam and leaned over the bar. "Okay, Tommy, here's what I'm thinking..." she began, a cheeky smile spreading slowly across her face, "You and I are both off tomorrow night. We're going to go out for dinner." Kate gleefully informed him, and he immediately opened his mouth to protest.
She held up her hand, shushing Sam before he could get a word out. "Don't you dare! We've been working here at Johnny Blue's together for months, and I hardly know you. We're going to go out for dinner tomorrow night, Thomas Shaw, and we're going to have an actual conversation," Kate told him, eyes sparkling, obviously determined not to take no for an answer.
Sam tried to put on a more genuine smile, seeing there was no way he was going to get out of this one. Kate was nothing if not persistent - and her accent was kind of cute, he had to admit. Much like the rest of her...
"Okay, Kate. You win. Where would you like to go?" Sam asked, and was rewarded with a dazzling smile from the young redhead as she picked up her tray. "The new Italian place down the road. I'll see you there at seven." Kate replied, still smiling, before she left Sam to his limes and went back out into the bar.
The following night, when Sam met Kate at Blue Springs' newest Italian restaurant, the evening actually went rather well. Better than he had envisioned, anyway - Kate was asking just as many questions as he'd expected, and he was keeping up the Tommy Shaw façade. He gave just enough detail in his answers to satisfy Kate's curiosity, and she seemed happy with that.
Over the restaurant's signature pasta, they talked about all kinds of things: music, movies, books, sport, food, and even history. Kate, as it turned out, was a very intelligent young woman and Sam was actually enjoying himself. He hadn't sat down and talked like this with anyone in months, and he was realising just how much he missed it.
Lately, Sam had occupied his mind with books and documentaries and crosswords, but the dialogue was pretty one-sided. It was nice to have a real conversation with an actual human being again; and he'd even found one that had read Hemingway and Milton!
By dessert, Sam was beginning to think he might actually get away with the whole charade - that is, until Kate put down her gelato and looked across the table at him, a serious expression clouding her face. Oh boy, he thought, here it comes.
"Tommy, you haven't said two words about your family the whole time I've known you," she began, delicately, and Sam cringed inwardly. Yeah, this was exactly what he'd been afraid of.
"I'd just like to know where you come from, you know?" she went on, obviously having worked out a while back that Sam had problems with his family. The look on Kate's face said she wasn't going to leave this alone, and Sam really enjoyed her company, so he took a deep breath and decided to bite the bullet.
"Well, both my parents are dead," he began slowly. Kate listened intently, leaning forward with her elbows on the table. "I do have a brother - Dean - but we haven't seen each other in a while." Sam chose his words carefully. Just enough information to satisfy her curiosity, but not so much that she thought of new questions.
"Can I ask what went wrong between y'all?" Kate asked, gently. Sam sighed, sitting back in his chair and playing with what was left of his tiramisu. She was asking, whether he wanted her to or not.
"Dean and I... we kind of ran the family business together. I screwed up, and we decided it was best that I took some time off." As the words were coming out of Sam's mouth, he was surprised at how much truth was in them. Technically, all of that was true... you know, in a way...
Sam stopped there, hoping that was enough to keep Kate happy. He could see the wheels turning as she thought it over, debating whether to push harder. Kate meant well, he knew; she could see 'Tommy' was keeping a lot of stuff bottled up inside and she wanted to help, but this conversation was only serving to make Sam revisit things he wanted desperately to forget.
"We both said some painful things the day I left. I haven't spoken to him since." Sam sighed, eyes focused on his food. He really wanted to change the subject now - it hurt just thinking about the last time he saw Dean, and the pain was written all over his face. Kate, realising she wasn't going to get 'Tommy' to open up any more than that, decided to quit while she was ahead.
"Look, Tommy, I'm not going to push you," she said, taking Sam by surprise: he'd fully expected her to keep digging. "There's obviously a lot going on in your head, and if you everwant to talk about it... well, secrets aren't so heavy when you share them with someone else." Kate was trying to tell him she was there to listen if Sam wanted to talk, but he was just relieved to be able to change the subject. Fortunately for him, dinner was over shortly after that and he was able to get away without any further revelations.
When he got back to his motel room, Sam threw himself back on the bed with a sigh, kicked his shoes off and shut his eyes. Kate wanted to help, but she just didn't understand; his relationship with Dean was beyond complicated, and no amount of talking and explaining and sharing with her was going to change that.
And yeah, she was smart and he liked her, but it wasn't like he could tell her the whole truth. What was he going to say? "My brother and I have spent our lives criss-crossing the country hunting monsters. Recently, while Dean was in Hell, I got addicted to demon blood. Then I broke the final Seal, let Lucifer out of his cage and started the Apocalypse." Yeah, right. No sooner would the words be out of his mouth than she'd probably Mace him.
"Why did she have to bring this up?" Sam asked the empty room, throwing an arm over his eyes. He'd been having a nice night, and now he couldn't stop thinking about Dean and how they'd split up. He'd done a really good job of repressing those thoughts lately, but now Sam found himself playing the scene over and over in his mind, like he had for the first week after he'd arrived in Blue Springs.
Colorado; four months earlier
Sitting in the passenger seat as the Impala hurtled down I-70, doing 10mph over the limit, Sam could tell Dean had something on his mind.
Sam stole a glance over at his brother: Dean's face was set in that stony expression he wore when he was percolating about something unpleasant, and he was tapping his right thumb on the steering wheel. He hadn't said a word to Sam since they'd left River Pass.
While Sam was trying to think of something to say that wouldn't get his head bitten off, Dean suddenly pulled off the road, parked the Impala in a deserted rest stop and got out, all without saying a word. Sam watched him start pacing beside the car, then took a deep breath and slowly got out to join his brother. Apparently, Dean was going to start the conversation for him.
While he waited for Dean to articulate whatever was on his mind, Sam stood by the driver's door wiping dust off the chrome with his finger and feeling like he'd been summoned to the principal's office. As he watched his brother pacing up and down like a caged lion, Sam couldn't help but imagine what was going on in Dean's head.
If he was honest with himself, Sam figured he pretty much knew what had Dean tied up in knots. He hoped he was wrong, but he didn't really believe for a second that he was. This was not going to be a pleasant conversation.
After half a minute, Dean stopped pacing and stood in front of his little brother, a rarely-seen deadly serious expression on his face. Sam felt his heart rate jump as Dean looked him straight in the eye.
"We can't go on like this, Sam. I can't go on like this." Dean sighed, closing his eyes and scrubbing a hand over his face. "I feel like I have to watch you 24/7, man, and I just can't. I'm so busy watching you that I can't do the job properly," he continued, eyes focused back on Sam. They both knew younger Winchester understood exactly what Dean was talking about.
"I know you know what I mean, Sam." Dean raised his eyebrows, voice low. Sam sighed and sat on the front corner of the Impala while Dean stood and waited silently, arms folded and every muscle in his body tense.
Sam had looked off into the trees by the side of the highway then, knowing exactly how this was going to end. He understood all to clearly that whatever semblance of a relationship still existed between the Winchester boys wouldn't cope with what Sam had to say next.
Even so, he went on. "It's all I can think about," Sam admitted, his voice almost a whisper. Dean bit his bottom lip, closing his eyes briefly and wishing they didn't need to have this conversation. This was the last thing he'd wanted to do, but he knew they had to talk about this. While they were both still alive to do it.
"In the grocery store, when I killed those demons - those people - with the knife... I didn't notice they didn't light up when they died. I didn't see it because I couldn't take my eyes off the blood." Sam had looked up at Dean then, but he couldn't stand the heartbroken look on his brother's face and had to look back down at the gravel under his boots.
"You were right when you said you needed to watch me, Dean. The hold the demon blood had on me is still there, but that's only part of the problem." Sam continued, eyes downcast. Dean had opened the floodgates, and now Sam found himself compelled to tell him everything that had been rattling around in his head lately.
"If I thought we needed it, I'd do it all again. I mean, if it could stop Lucifer I'd go straight back down that road, all the while telling myself it was for the right reasons. And maybe it would be." Sam sighed. "But I liked it far too much, Dean. I liked the feeling it gave me." Sam was being brutally honest, finally, and he knew it hurt Dean to hear this. It was written all over his big brother's face.
"You can't be a hunter while you want demon blood, Sam," Dean told him softly, and Sam sighed.
"I know. I shouldn't be anywhere near this Apocalypse, Dean. I shouldn't be anywhere near you."
When he heard that, Dean flinched like he'd been slapped. He'd wanted to protest, to tell Sam that he needed him by his side, but that wasn't true. Sam and Dean would both be safer when Dean didn't have to keep one eye on his little brother.
They both knew it: Dean would be better off without him.
Sam looked back up at Dean then, and his big brother's hazel eyes were shining with tears. "If your head isn't in the game, you're going to get someone hurt. Probably me." Dean told him, quietly, and Sam almost burst into tears right there. That was the last thing he wanted to do - he'd rather die than see Dean hurt.
"If I can't trust you to watch my back, then I need to be on my own."
It hurt Dean to say that; Sam knew it without a doubt. He also understood that Dean didn't want him to go, but they both knew he had no choice.
And so, just like that, it was decided. Sam had taken two bags from the Impala, containing all his worldly possessions, and hitched a ride to Blue Springs, Missouri. Both Winchester boys had spoken to Bobby in the months since, but hadn't said one word to each other.
Sam was jolted back to reality by the harsh ringing of his mobile phone. It had gotten late since he'd started his stroll down memory lane, and what little light made it through the curtains from the motel's neon sign illuminated the room with a soft blue glow.
Absently rubbing his eyes, Sam got up and stumbled across the room towards the phone, swearing when he stubbed his toe hard against an anonymous piece of furniture hidden in the shadows. He limped the rest of the way to the kitchen bench and picked up his still-ringing Blackberry.
He checked the caller ID with bleary eyes, and what he saw nearly made him drop the phone.
Set-up complete. :) I've been writing this out of order, so there are fragments just waiting to be fleshed out and put together... More (darker) chapters will follow soon! (Promise!)
In the meantime, maybe you'd like to let me know what you thought so far...? ;)