A Single Trick

Summary: Bobby learns to forgive and a lot more from Sam when a hunt goes awry. Set after "...And Then There Were None"

Gidgetgal9A/N: I just want to wish Floralia a happy birthday. I hope you have a wonderful day. A big thanks to sendintheclowns for working on this with me when my muse was flagging, she really is the best! :)

Sendintheclowns A/N: Happy birthday Floralia! I'm so very pleased to call you friend. I think if you squint, you'll find a conversation we once had reflected in the story. I had a ball as always co-writing with the very talented Gidget.

If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.
~Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Bobby sat at his desk, head propped up on a hand, while his other hand clutched the handle of his coffee cup. The drink was liberally laced with the alcoholic antifreeze of his choice and Bobby consoled himself that it was 5 o'clock somewhere while he sipped from his mug. It had been a hell of a week…month…year. Between Rufus passing on and Sam's antics without a soul previous to that, he was having a rough go of it. Bobby had a hunt all lined up and he didn't think either Dean or Sam were gonna be pleased about it.

Dean entered Bobby's office with a cup of coffee in his hand, sinking gracefully across from him. It was odd not to see Sam surgically attached at Dean's hip. "Where's your brother?"

The sandy haired man took a sip from his mug before scowling at Bobby. "Sam's still sleeping."

Bobby wasn't sure if Dean's facial contortion had to do with Bobby not addressing Sam by name, the crappy coffee or the fact that the kid was still asleep—Bobby glanced at the clock—at 3 P.M.

Sipping from the mug again, Dean's nose wrinkled. Bobby pulled open a desk drawer and withdrew a pint of Jack Daniels and silently offered it up. Dean nodded gratefully while Bobby topped off the coffee with the amber liquid. "Thanks." This time when the younger man took a gulp of coffee he smiled. "So you need me to get Sam?"

Bobby waved him off. "No, let's not disturb the Princess's rest." He paused, considering. "He's sure been doing that a lot. Sleeping. Everything okay with the..."

Dean's face scrunched up before he grudgingly answered. "The wall. Yeah. So far as I know. Kid just needs a lot of sleep. I suppose staying awake for a year straight will do that to a person." Dean shifted in the chair, clearly uncomfortable. "You do know he has a name, right?"

"Don't get cute with me, boy." It was Bobby's turn to scowl; so Dean had noticed after all. It wasn't even that Bobby was holding a grudge—he forgave Sam—he just didn't trust him. Not yet. It would take some time. In the mean time it was easier to just not think about the youngest Winchester.

Cocky grin in place, Dean saluted Bobby with his mug. "I can't help it that I'm cute, Bobby." The smile was pure charm but the eyes weren't twinkling. Dean had also had a rough go of it lately and Bobby wished there was something he could do to help.

The two men sat in companionable silence, sipping their doctored brews.

Draining the dregs of the coffee, Dean cleared his throat. "So did you find another hunt?"

Bobby shoved a newspaper and notes across the desk. "I did. It's about an hour from here. But there's a rub. It's an exorcism."

The words hung heavily in the air.

Dean set his cup down with a thud, picking up the papers. "A demon."

"Read it for yourself." Bobby waited patiently while Dean digested the facts.

Setting down the paper, Dean made eye contact. "We can roll in fifteen minutes. Let me get Sam up and we'll be ready—"

"I don't think Sam should go." Bobby had thought long and hard on it, and as pleased as he'd been that Sam had shot Samuel and not the other way around, he didn't think it was smart to put the ex-demon blood junkie in the same room as a demon.

Dean's face was implacable. The youngest Winchester had more of their daddy's look about him with his size and coloring but Dean had his mannerisms down pat. "Cas said he's over it. No more cravings. At least hell was good for something."

Bobby took the last gulp of his coffee, swallowing past the bitter tang of Jack Daniels that had collected on the bottom of the mug, trying to calm himself. It didn't work. Voice rising, he stared Dean down. "I'm not saying he's not over it. I just don't think we oughta go dangling no demons in front of him."

"I'm not leaving him behind." Dean climbed to his feet, pacing restlessly, drawing an impatient hand through his hair. "Why don't you sit this one out?"

Bobby pushed to his feet, exasperated. "Don't be a bigger idgit than you already are." He collected the papers and straightened them, before setting them down in a neat pile. OCD much? It was a delaying tactic and he knew it. Sighing, he pushed onward. "What if demon blood is spilled and he can't-"

"Damn it, Bobby! I thought you got past this. I thought you weren't holding dickwad Sam's actions against him." Dean had always risen to his brother's defense. His loyalty was an enviable trait but in this instance, it could get someone—most likely Dean—hurt or worse. The boy didn't have a lick of sense when it came to his brother.

Of course it wasn't just worry driving Bobby. There was always plenty of hurt. "You don't just get over someone you trust trying to gank you!"

Sam's voice, soft with a nervous edge, interrupted the discussion. "Dean, he's right. I'm sorry, Bobby—"

Bobby pushed past the kid, exiting the room. "Save it, Sam. We don't need estrogen here. Dean, fill in your brother. We'll leave in an hour."

He didn't derive any pleasure from the way Sam cringed back from him. The kid had always, always, been a huge worrier but with those big, hazel eyes, and that scary smart brain, he'd played 'em all until everyone one of them had bent over backward for him.

John had finally bucked the trend and it had blown the family apart. Dean needed to grow a backbone when it came to Sam but he was still in overprotective brother overdrive. It was up to Bobby to be the voice of reason. Stand firm.

So why did Bobby feel like he'd just kicked a sweet, clueless Golden Retriever puppy in its soft, pink underbelly?

-0-

Sam didn't like being relegated to the car while Bobby and Dean were inside the warehouse, waiting for the demon to show up, but he understood Bobby's rationale. Just because he understood it, didn't mean it didn't hurt though.

The younger hunter understood Bobby's misgivings and wanted to give him room but being around the older hunter was a balm to Dean and after all of the crap Sam had pulled, he wasn't about to do anything that would undermine his big brother.

He was just so tired. Tired of not knowing what had happened when he'd been walking around without a soul. Tired of worrying about memories encroaching on his sanity, eroding the wall. More like The Wall. Tired of the way Bobby couldn't act natural around him.

A tall red headed woman approached the building, her walk full of confidence. Before the demon had sunk its claws into her, Yvonne Harriman had been a real estate broker. If things went well inside, Yvonne would get her life back again. She'd been lured to the warehouse under false pretenses but subterfuge was the name of the game.

Sam knew Bobby and Dean could handle the exorcism but he crept out of the Impala and hovered by the back entrance, alert for trouble.

"Hello, Sam. I was hoping we'd have a chance to chat." Apparently Sam hadn't been alert enough. He turned around to find a muscle bound hulk staring him in the eye. When bright blue irises slid to flat black, Sam's suspicions were confirmed: he was face to face with another demon.

"What's the matter, Sammy? Cat got your tongue?" Sam eyed the demon warily. The demon killing knife was inside with Dean. Sam knew the exorcism by heart but unless he could get hulk-man to stand still, it wouldn't do him any good. Luring the demon inside in the hopes they'd walk over or beneath a devil's trap was the only available option.

With a deep breath, Sam forced a smirk on his face. "The name's Sam, not Sammy. What's yours?"

Shock reverberated through him when the demon actually answered. "Asmodeus. I was once a part of Lucifer's inner circle, at least until that goat, Azazel, cast me out." The words fell into the air with surgical precision, slicing to Sam's core; he was familiar with this demon's name and what he knew wasn't good. Not that dealing with a demon was ever good.

Asmodeus, demon of wrath and lust, had been banished by Raphael according to the Book of Tobbit. Sam hadn't realized Azazel had anything to do with it. Azazel, the demon responsible for killing his mother. Killing his father. Infecting him with demon blood. Setting him up to be Lucifer's vessel.

Without warning, Sam flew backward, his head impacting with the side of the building. He slid to the ground in a heap, his ears ringing. A finger tilted his head back and he stared up at the demon as little bursts of lights sparkled on the periphery of his vision. He could make out cold eyes. Shark eyes. The smile was sadistic. "I want to know why. You were supposed to lead us; that was the original plan. Why did you turn on us? You could have had it all."

Was this demon for real? Did he really not know about the true vessels and Lucifer and Michael—?

A backhand snapped his face to the side where it ricocheted against the cruel, unforgiving surface of the building. Before he could protest, get his feet under him, anything, he was lifted up and thrown against the door. He flew inward, landing on the cement floor, his chest aching as he tried to catch his breath.

Lacking the energy to do anything, he let his eyes flick overhead. There was a devil's trap directly overhead, spray painted on the ceiling. He wondered idly how Bobby and Dean had managed to get up that high.

He was abruptly levered up to a sitting position, his brother's worried expression swimming into focus. "Sammy?"

"I'm fine." He wasn't but Dean didn't have to know that.

Asmodeus was screeching a protest as Bobby threw holy water at him. Unfortunately this was a higher level demon and he was barely fazed by the defensive maneuver. Bobby flew through the air, tangling with a metal rack, clattering to the floor.

Dean was jerking him to his feet, tugging him backward. "Start the exorcism while I keep him distracted."

The words had barely left Dean's mouth before Sam was airborne yet again, his back connecting with a too solid support bracing the ceiling.

His whole world shrunk down to the white hot pain in his low back. The last time he'd felt intense pain like this was when—

Cold Oaks.

The special children.

Jake had stabbed him in the back.

Numbness below his waist, icy cold tendrils digging into his back, his fingers tingling...pervasive dizziness and nausea overwhelmed him.

He finally blinked his eyes open to find Dean, favoring his left arm, dancing around the demon. His legs and arms might not be working but as long as he could breathe, he could speak. "Cantate Deo..."

He could barely generate a whisper but it was loud enough for Asmodeus to hear him and the demon was pissed. Intense pressure curled around his head...throat...chest...he slid up the support beam with agonizing slowness.

"...lower than the maggots that eat decaying flesh. You were our salvation. Why have you forsaken us?"

Asmo was completely insane. Sam was no one's salvation. Not even his own.

The back of his head banged resoundingly against the solid beam a split second before his low back collided with it again.

Black filled his vision.

A low moan of pain teased him back to the edge of consciousness. Dean. Dean was hurt.

Sam continued with the exorcism, thankful for the years of practice he'd had so that the words tripped out of his mouth without thought.

The demon was wailing in the background, snarls and growls flying from his lips. Sam couldn't see what was going on, didn't know if Dean or Bobby were okay. Couldn't do anything to help except keep speaking Latin.

A loud snap filled the air and a gush of energy rushed by his face. The floor rushed up at him. Or he rushed down at the floor.

"Sammy, you with me?"

Good. Dean was okay. Or at least conscious. "Bobby?"

"Damn demon broke my ankle!" The older hunter's voice was filled with rage and pain and Sam remembered that it hadn't been too long ago that Bobby didn't have the use of his legs. Being hobbled again was going to drive him crazy.

"Damn it, Sam. Answer me!" Dean was upset with him. He needed to concentrate.

Something spasmed in his spine and Sam shifted; he couldn't say he liked the feeling of a hot poker being shoved into his back but it beat not having any feeling. He knew Bobby would confirm that one. "'m okay."

Dean was muttering under his breath but Sam was happily surprised when being hauled into an upright position felt better. No shooting pain. No hot poker. Mild tingling in his extremities. That set off a warning alarm but he was more worried about Dean at the moment.

-0-

"You hurt?" Sam's eyes blinked rapidly up at him as though he was trying to clear them. The kid had taken a few hard licks but his foremost concern was for others rather than himself. After months spent in the company of Pinocchio Sam, it was a treat to see the sincerity shining from the large, hazel eyes.

His shoulder picked that moment to twinge in discomfort. Screw that. Not discomfort. Pain. "Freak dislocated my shoulder again. Think you can—?"

Extending his good arm, Dean pulled Sam to his feet. His brother closed his eyes and braced himself; Dean imagined cartoon birds tweeting around Sam's head as the kid fought off what had to be a case of nasty vertigo.

Looking a little green around the gills, Sam finally opened his eyes. He didn't waste any time, instead grabbing Dean's injured arm. "Ready? On the count of three. One—"

Sam ratcheted Dean's abused joint into its socket without warning. The without warning part was supposed to prevent him from tensing his body but crap, the pain was intense, and he'd been expecting the jolt on the count of two, not one. Dean bent over at the waist, cradling his limb, calling their parentage into question with the random insults flowing from his lips. At last the pain settled down to a deep throb and Dean straightened.

"Yvonne?" Dean was shaking his head no before Sam could even choke out the rest of the question; another innocent they'd failed to save. He tried to remain upbeat but their losses were taking a toll. At least he had Sam back by his side. His trusty geek sidekick.

"Can you two quit your yapping already and lend me a hand over here?" Bobby was cranky but Dean couldn't blame him. Being thrown into the shelving had to hurt like a bitch.

Of the three of them, Sam seemed to be moving with the least amount of difficulty. Pretty incredible considering the abuse he'd seen the steroid demon dish out to the lanky frame.

Dean continued to cradle his arm close to his body although between him and Sam, they got Bobby upright where he hopped on one foot. The older man groused, "I hate to say it but I think I need the ER. Sonnuva—"

"Dean? You need to have your shoulder looked at?" His brother's brow was furrowed with worry again, watching Dean closely as he massaged the throbbing joint. A far cry from the last time Sam had popped his shoulder into joint, after Dean had come back from hell to find a distant Sam who was far cozier with Ruby than he should've been, the brothers on the run from Alistair and threatened by crazy angels. At that time the brothers had struggled to connect. Thankfully that wasn't the case anymore.

Letting his arm dangle loosely at his side, Dean straightened to his full height. In comparison to what they'd been through, this was nothing. "I'm fine." Maybe not fine, but he'd heal. That left Bobby who needed help. "You're still mobile, how 'bout you take Hop-along to the ER and I'll meet you two back at Bobby's after you're done and I do some clean up here."

He'd rather they stick together—the thought of letting Sam out of his sight didn't sit well—but at least his brother would be with Bobby. Their father figure might not be feeling too fatherly toward Sam at the moment but he knew the old codger still loved Sam. Would do anything for the kid.

Except look him in the eye at the moment.

Dean sighed; back in Sandusky Bobby had been rabid with fear when they'd heard a gunshot and didn't know if Sam was dead or alive. Unfortunately Rufus hadn't made it out of the cannery and like most hunters Dean knew, Bobby had withdrawn after his death. Typical behavior but it had definitely short circuited the mending relationship with Sam.

Facing mortality was a bitch. Unless you were a Winchester with more lives than a damn cat.

Bobby swore up a blue streak as Sam tried to help him toward the exit. Dean didn't like the way Sam's head bowed in acceptance of the abuse being heaped upon it by the injured member of their party. He'd like to bang both their heads together—Bobby for being an ass at the moment and Sam for taking it. Pain, both physical and mental anguish, was the culprit and there wasn't much Dean could do at the moment.

Except help Sam get Bobby to the car. Dean braced his good shoulder under Bobby's arm and the man spared him a grimace of thanks.

Once Bobby was settled in the passenger seat of the truck, he handed his keys to Sam grudgingly. Sam took the keys with trepidation, pausing to rub his chest. Dean's spidey sense began to tingle. "You okay, Sam? Maybe you ought to get checked out, too. That behemoth really knocked you around."

"Kid's stronger than an ox. Now can you two quit making googly eyes at each other so we can get this show on the road?" Bobby's face was white and drawn with pain. The sooner he had his ankle seen to, the sooner they could pump him full of some good drugs and this uber yowly version of Bobby could simmer down to his usually irascible self.

As Sam walked by, Dean drew him aside. "You sure you're okay?"

His brother opened his mouth, thought better of it, and closed it. Instead of replying immediately, white even teeth sunk into his lip, worrying at it. The continued silence was worrisome. "Sammy?"

Tension drained from the taut features and a shy smile slid across Sam's face. A dimple even twinkled at Dean. "I'm gonna be fine. Let me get Bobby taken care of and we'll see you tonight."

Dean watched as the truck rattled out of the gravel parking lot and he imagined Bobby was ripping into Sam for jostling his ankle with the uneven surface. He didn't envy his brother.

Turning, Dean entered the building. The sooner he cleaned up the carcasses, the sooner he could hit the road. A hot shower and a whiskey would do his shoulder a world of good.

Seeing Sam, uninjured if not unscathed by Bobby's tongue, would do him even better. Who knows, maybe the confinement in the truck together would do both hunters some good. Or at least that was Dean's hope.

To Be Continued