This was written for a prompt on Oh!Sam on LJ.
Prompt: AU. Sam had an accident when he was a child. He has special needs. John is dead and Dean and Bobby still hunt; everything is like it is now but with Sam having special needs. Dean finds out about Adam, Sam is kidnapped by Lucifer, both brothers help him though the aftermath.
It had taken only a minute or two of inattention. Dad's. Dean's. An unwillingness to look up from the page, away from the television. By the time they'd realized the door was open, it had been too late. Frantic searching, shouts and tears and Sam floating face-down in the dirty pool just yards from their room.
In the weeks that followed, Sam had seemed to recover, slowly but surely regaining the energy and vibrancy of a typical four-year-old boy. What hadn't been clear originally – what wouldn't be clear for months – was that mentally Sam hadn't been recovering at all.
Dad had only blamed Dean once out loud. They'd been in the emergency room—Sammy taken from them, standing side-by-side, frozen and dazed—when without warning Dad had whirled, grabbing Dean hard by the shoulders, shaking him. "You were supposed to be watching him!"
Dean hadn't been able to respond, the truth of those words muting him.
Later Dad had taken it back.
Bobby had told Dean it wasn't been his fault multiple times.
So had Pastor Jim.
But Dean knew the truth. He always had.
"Dean, wha's this?"
"What's what, Sammy?" Dean asked, distractedly. He slid his eyes away from the television and to his brother.
Sam crawled awkwardly up from the foot of the bed, something clutched in one hand. "This," he said, holding a small square of paper toward Dean for his inspection.
Dean reached out, taking the picture.
"Tha's Dad, huh?" Sam said, settling against the headboard next to Dean. "Who's that boy?"
It was Dad, arm around the shoulders of a kid younger than Sam. Both Dad and the boy were smiling somewhat uncomfortably. But their dimples matched. And when Dean looked at his brother, the same indentations flashed at him when Sam smiled.
"Do we know that boy?" Sam asked. He leaned forward to peer at the photo, head and hair obscuring Dean's view. Dean took the opportunity to thump his own head against the wall behind him.
"I don't think so, Sammy," Dean said tightly, moving Sam's enormous melon out of the way. "Where did you find this?"
Sam didn't answer, but scrambled off the mattress, almost tripping as he ran out of the room.
While Sam was gone, Dean turned the photo over. "Adam. 2002."
"It was in here, in Dad's treasure chest," Sam told Dean breathlessly as he came back into Dean's room, placing the box carefully in Dean's lap. "At the bottom." He bit his lip, thinking hard. "That's where pirates put their most important treasures, right, Dean? At the very bottom where no one else can find them?"
There'd been a box shoved under the seat of their father's truck that Dean had handed off to Sam when they'd cleaned it out after John's death. It had been full of crumpled papers and a small stack of photos. Sam had always loved pictures, and Dean couldn't have borne them at the time.
Sam, of course, had decided the box was a treasure chest. He was constantly squirreling things away in it – rocks or string or McDonald's Happy Meal toys he thought worthy. Dean had never thought about what had happened to the pictures. Hadn't been able to.
Dean swallowed hard, not answering. The bed rocked as Sam bounced back onto it and clambered over Dean's outstretched legs to the empty side. Out of habit, Dean ignored him and sifted through the bits and pieces of stuff in the box, searching for the pictures. When he uncovered them, Dean flipped through the photos quickly. Until he got to the last few in the stack.
There were four snapshots in all. The first was the one Sam had brought him of the boy at about 12. In the others, the boy ranged upward in age, each photo depicting the kid with Dad—a fishing trip, a baseball field, the Impala—on the back of each, the same name and a different date. Across the last one was scrawled 2006.
"Who is he, Dean?" Sam was in his space again, practically in his lap, plucking at the pictures, turning them over. "A. D. A. M." He mouthed the letters carefully. "What does that spell?"
"Adam," Dean said gruffly, taking them back.
Sam surrendered the pictures easily enough. "Is Adam that boy's name?" he asked. "Does he know Daddy?" Abruptly Sam's face clouded. "I mean. Did he know Daddy? Before Dad died?" he amended.
"Looks like, kiddo," Dean said wearily.
"Do we know him?"
Dean stared at the pictures in his hands. Dad. And Adam. Dad…
"Dean, do we…?"
"No," Dean bit out.
"No," Sam repeated dutifully. He shrugged. "'K," he said, interest forgotten. He flopped onto his belly, pointing himself toward the TV on Dean's dresser.
It took Dean a few months to track Adam down.
He started with the journal, looking for clues around the time Dean figured the boy in the photos might have been…conceived. (And, you know, ew.) Dad had been in Windom, Minnesota in early 1990. Some research into the case John had been working on had eventually led to a hospital stay and a nurse named Kate Milligan.
Dean remembered. He'd been about to turn 11 when Dad had dropped them at Bobby's with a promise to be back in time for Dean's birthday. He'd barely made it. Now Dean guessed he knew why.
Dean peered out the windshield of the Impala at the boy slouching down the street. He was about Dean's height, though maybe a little taller (dammit) and with hair that was a little lighter than either Dean's or Sam's. He was still just a kid, kind of skinny and awkward as he made his way up the sidewalk.
Sam looked up from the truck he was running up and down his thigh. "Is Adam a bad guy?" Sam asked curiously. "He doesn't look bad," Sam observed, squinting toward the boy. He looked at Dean.
Dean shook his head. "He's not a bad guy, Sammy," he said, not bothering to remind Sam about who the kid was. The house Adam was entering was dark in the gray evening. The porch light went on as the front door closed; windows deeper in the house lit up.
Dean bit his lip and opened the door of the Impala.
Sam followed him out.
"Where we goin', Dean?"
Dean studied the house. "We're going to meet Adam," he said.
Sam's forehead furrowed as he thought. "From the pictures with Dad?" he finally asked, remembering again. Sam's head didn't always hold information well.
"Yep," said Dean. He turned to his brother. "If he knew Dad, don't you want to know him, too?" He'd tried to explain to Sam about Adam maybe (probably) being their brother, but Sam hadn't seemed able to grasp the concept of "brother" that wasn't Dean.
Sam's face lit up. "Yeah!"
Dean huffed out a sigh, but couldn't help the smile at Sam's enthusiasm. He started up the sidewalk. "Hey, Sammy," he said with a glance at his brother. "You let me talk first, OK?"
Sam bobbed his head obligingly. "'K." He jogged up the steps ahead of Dean. "C'n I ring the doorbell?"
"Sure," Dean said, doing his best to ignore the twist of nerves in his gut.
Sam rang the bell and let Dean pull him back behind him.
The door opened.
Up close, Dean could see the stamp of his father even more clearly on the kid's features, and it made his stomach churn even more. He cleared his throat.
"Hi," Sam said from behind him. He gave a little wave.
Adam's eyes went to Sam, a small, curious smile crinkling his eyes. "Hi," he said.
"Uh, hey," Dean finally managed. "You're, uh, Adam Milligan?"
"Yeah," the kid said, drawing out the word questioningly.
"We're John Winchester's sons," Dean said. "I'm Dean, and this is Sam." He hooked a thumb at Sam over his shoulder and sensed rather than saw Sam wave again.
Adam's eyes went wide. In the porch light, Dean could see that Adam had paled slightly. "Oh." The kid swallowed loud enough that Dean heard the wet sound of his throat convulse. "Hi."
The three of them stared at each other. Dean wasn't sure what to say next.
"Is this your house?" Sam asked, looking around the porch, fascinated. "It's pretty." He smiled at their brother.
"Yeah," Adam said. His brow wrinkled slightly as he contemplated Sam uncertainly. "You guys, uh, want to come it?"
"OK!" Sam agreed. He moved to pass Dean.
Dean put an arm out to block Sam's forward progress. "Thanks," Dean said to Adam. He gave Sam a look. "Cool it," he muttered. Sam's lower lip thrust out, but he waited until Dean entered the house before he followed, scuffing the soles of his tennis shoes as he went.
They trailed Adam into the living room, and then the three of them stood there, staring at one another some more. Dean knew he should probably be the one to break the silence. He was the oldest, after all. He was the one who had shown up on the kid's front porch and introduced himself and Sam, complete strangers to this son of their father. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out.
Dean was aware of Sam beside him, could see his brother's head swiveling around, taking everything in, always curious. Suddenly Sam moved, walking toward a bookshelf before Dean could stop him.
"Dean," he said excitedly. "Look, Dean. It's Dad!" He turned confused eyes to Adam. "Did you know our Dad?"
Dean spoke as gently as he could in spite of his frustration. "Sam, remember we talked about this? Adam…" He looked at Adam, who was watching him almost as if he were scared. Oh, what the hell. "Adam's our brother." Dean saw Adam suck in a surprised breath. "Our dad was his dad, too." He paused. "Right?" he asked Adam softly. Adam swallowed, and his chin dipped unsteadily.
Sam's face cleared. "Oh, yeah." He turned to stare openly at Adam. "I forgot."
"'s OK, Sammy. Come over here with me, alright?"
Obediently, Sam returned to Dean's side.
Dean cleared his throat. "So. We… ." He stopped. "Could we, uh, sit down?"
Adam nodded, gesturing awkwardly toward the sofa as he perched on a chair across from them. When they sat, Sam pressed close, remembering now, Dean thought, why they were here.
"What's going on?" Adam asked.
From Adam's expression, Dean knew that the kid had clued into the fact that something was wrong.
"Is Da- Is… he OK? I haven't… I haven't seen him in…." There was fear in his eyes and, damn, if Dean couldn't help the twinge of pity for the kid. Even if part of him was screaming that this boy had no right.
Dean drew in a breath. "I'm sorry, Adam. He's not." He swallowed against the tightness in his throat, looked down at the floor and then back at his… crap… at his youngest brother. "He died a few months ago."
Sam had gone still next to him, one hand curling into the sleeve of Dean's jacket.
Adam blinked furiously, face pale. "Oh." He didn't say anything for a minute. "How?" he finally asked hoarsely.
"Oh," Adam said again.
Dean waited to see if the kid would ask anything else, and when he didn't Dean went on. "We didn't know about you. Dad never…" Dean broke off.
"We found some pictures of you," Sam said softly. "Of you and Daddy. That's how Dean figured it out." Sam's fingers skittered against the inside of Dean's elbow, clutching, strong and insistent even through the fabric of Dean's coat.
Adam wiped a hand down his face and glanced between Sam and Dean. "He told me about you. Not… Not a lot. But that he had two other sons."
"Oh." It was Dean's turn, evidently. He wasn't sure where to take the conversation from here.
"I'm thirsty," Sam announced.
Adam shifted his gaze from Dean to Sam. "You want some water? Or a Coke?"
"Coke," Sam said at the same time Dean said, "Water."
Adam blinked and opened his mouth.
"Sam," Dean said.
"Water," Sam conceded with a pout.
Adam rose. "I'll get it."
As the kid left the room, Dean got up, too. "Stay here, Sammy, OK?" he said, when Sam moved to follow him. "You hear me?"
Sam fell back on the couch. "'K."
When he entered the kitchen, Dean saw that Adam had pulled a glass out of the cabinet and was getting ice from the freezer. He looked a little shaky.
"I'm sorry to have to tell you about Dad this way," Dean said.
Adam gave him a red-rimmed glance and looked away quickly. "'s not your fault." He moved toward the sink and snorted softly. He shot Dean another look. "I guess it must kind of suck to find out you have a bastard brother the way you did," he said with surprising bitterness.
Dean didn't respond to that. Not sure how to. "It just you and your mom?" Dean asked instead, taking the glass from Adam and turning on the tap.
Adam gave it up, moving back slightly. He cleared his throat, wiping at his eyes. "Yeah." He shrugged. "Mostly just me," he said. He met Dean's eyes briefly, looked away. "Mom works a lot. Night shifts at the hospital."
Dean nodded, turned off the faucet.
Adam bit his lip, eyes on the door into the living room. Dean could hear Sam in the front of the house, the steady patter of a conversation he was having with himself drifting down the hall.
"Is Sam…is he…?" Adam started hesitantly.
Dean swallowed back the automatic surge of anger/resentment he always felt when people asked about Sam. But it wasn't fair to take that out on Adam; he was their brother, God help them all. He had a right to know. Dean took a steadying breath. "He almost drowned when he was four. He never…" Dean shook his head.
Adam nodded. "Dad didn't say…." He paused. "Is he OK?"
Dean lifted a shoulder, ignored the stab of whatever-it-was at Adam's use of "Dad." "Yeah," Dean said. "For the most part. He's just…four, basically. And he's not ever going to…" He didn't finish.
Ninety-nine percent of the time Dean was fine with who Sam was, with who Sam was always going to be. He'd gotten over the anger and the sadness and the guilt (mostly) years ago. It was what it was, and there was no point wringing his hands and wailing about the unfairness of it all.
But there were still times, like now, standing here with Adam—Sam's dimples and earnest hazel eyes—where Dean felt the tug of his own bitterness pull at him. When he couldn't help but wonder what Sam would have been like at 18, if he'd been whole. What he'd be like now at 25 with the mind he'd been born with.
Dean forced himself to shake it off, smiled tightly at the kid next to him. "He's OK."
"Deaaaaaaaaaaan!" Sam's whine carried clearly into the kitchen. "Can I come in there? I don' wanna be out here anymore!"
Dean snorted. Alone was not something Sam did often or well. "Yeah, Sammy," he called. "Come on, kiddo."
Sam gamboled into the kitchen. "I'm hungry, too, now," he announced, taking the glass of water Dean offered him.
"Yeah. Course you are," Dean said. He looked at Adam. "You hungry?"
The kid smiled, shy and pleased. "Yeah."
They ate at a spot Adam recommended. It had incredible cheese burgers, amazing onion rings, and cold beer on tap. Dean approved.
After a damn awkward start, gradually they managed a fairly easy sort of conversation. Adam, it turned out, was graduating high school in the spring and planning on college—pre-med no less.
"What about you?" Adam asked. "Did you go to college?"
"Nah," Dean said, popping an onion ring in his mouth. "Not your sleeve, man," he reminded Sam, who grinned sheepishly and reached for the napkin Dean pointed to. "Just wasn't really doable," he continued with a shrug.
Adam nodded. "What do you do?"
Dean shrugged again. Evidently, Dad hadn't been forthcoming about that aspect of his life with his youngest son.
"I work with our uncle—he's got a junkyard." He poured half of a second shake he'd gotten for Sam into his own glass, ignoring his brother's squawk of protest and grabby hands. "We stayed with him a lot growing up. While Dad was traveling."
"Uncle Bobby!" Sam caroled.
Dean couldn't help the smile at Sam's delight. "Not biologically, but close enough."
"What's working in a junkyard like?" Adam was looking at him curiously over the rim of his own milkshake.
Dean shrugged. "It's OK. Fixing up cars, doing the books, hauling wrecks in. Different stuff."
"Huh." Adam wiped his mouth on his sleeve. He peered at Sam. "What do you do, Sam?"
"I help Dean," Sam said proudly.
Adam slanted a glance at Dean. "Yeah?" he said with a smile back again at Sam.
"Uh-huh," Sam said importantly. "I hand him tools and stuff and make sure he doesn't get lonely when he has to go get old cars."
"That's cool," Adam agreed.
"'n sometimes I stay 'n' help Uncle Bobby when Dean hasta go on a trip. Uncle Bobby says he doesn't know what he'd do without me when Dean's gone."
They all ate in silence a little while.
"So. You don't do what Dad did?" Adam ventured eventually.
Dean froze. "What Dad did?" he asked cautiously.
"He said he did investigative stuff. Wouldn't really tell me what, but said it meant he traveled a lot."
Dean considered, then nodded carefully. "Yeah. I do that some. Mostly I help Bobby, though."
"What kind of investigation do you do?" Adam asked.
"What did Dad tell you?" Dean hedged.
Adam frowned. "He wouldn't tell me anything."
Dean raised an eyebrow at the kid.
The frown deepened to a scowl. And, really, it was disturbing how much Adam looked like Sammy when he did that. "Why won't you tell me?" Adam demanded.
Dean wondered if the kid had tried this with Dad at any point. And what Dad's reaction had been. Scratch that. Dean knew exactly what Dad's reaction would have been.
"Look, Adam." Dean dug into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out Sam's meds. "What we do… it's complicated." He opened the bottle and shook out two pills. "If Dad didn't want you involved, I think I should respect that." He held out his hand and dropped the pills into Sam's outstretched palm. "Use the milkshake, Sammy," he told him.
With a grimace, Sam put the pills on his tongue and drained the rest of the shake, face contorting as he downed the whole thing. When he finished he put his head in his hands. "M' head," he muttered, huffing when Dean laughed and ruffled his hair.
"Well, you didn't need to drink the whole thing in one gulp, you doofus. Let's see," Dean said, and Sam opened his mouth wide wiggling his tongue madly at his brother.
"A' gone?" Sam asked, somehow managing not to close mouth around the words.
"Yep. Good job."
Sam snapped his teeth together and beamed, brain freeze thawed. He refocused his attention on his onion rings.
"What…?" Adam was watching Sam, distracted by the medication routine. "What are the meds for?"
"Seizures," Dean said.
Adam nodded, scowl mostly gone, but brow still wrinkled slightly. He ate a couple of his own onion rings.
Dean thought the conversation was over.
"What does 'complicated' mean?"
Dean sighed. "It means… 'complicated.' It means I'm not going to talk about it with you."
Glaring from across the table.
"Dean and Dad kill bad things," Sam said into the angry silence that had fallen. Dean realized belatedly that his little brother had snaked the last of Dean 's milkshake, and was slurping it smugly.
Dean blinked. Well. Crap. "Sam," he growled.
Adam's eyes were like saucers. "Kill?" he repeated, voice cracking.
"Monsters," Sam added, nodding over his straw.
What the hell? "Sam. Shut up."
The kid knew better than this. He did. They'd all – Dean and Dad and Bobby – protected Sam from as much of the hunt as they could. But shit happened and Sam had been exposed to the realities of what his family did on more than one occasion over the years. But he'd also been drilled and trained and reminded not to talk about it – that the Winchesters (and Bobby) did what they did and they shut up about it. End of story.
Sam flinched at Dean's tone and the volume of the order, but his face set. "Adam's our brother," he mumbled. Sam looked from Dean to Adam and back again. "It's the family business," he said.
"Sam," Dean said sharply. There were times….
Sam hunched his shoulders, refusing to look at Dean. His own version of defiance.
"You know the rules," Dean said to his little brother. "You can talk about it to me and Bobby." Here, Dean frowned at Adam, who was still staring at both of them like they had two heads. "That's it. You got it?"
"No, Sam. Me and Uncle Bobby. Period."
Sam's lip thrust out. "'K," he said sullenly, with a sidelong glance at Adam.
"Wh - ," Adam started.
But Dean shook his head. "Not here." He pulled some cash out of his pocket and tossed it at the bill. "Come on."
In the end, Dean just told Adam. He had his reservations, especially considering Dad's refusal to tell the kid, but after what Sam had said, there wasn't going to be any way to put that particular cat back in the bag. So now Adam would know. But Dean could still keep him out of it.
When they got to Adam's, Dean got Sam settled in front of the television. Back in the kitchen, Dean laid it out for Adam in Technicolor.
To his credit, Adam took it all in without comment. He had some questions – good ones, even, thoughtful ones – then asked, "Is that what really killed Dad?"
It took Dean a minute before he could speak. He cleared his throat. "I don't know," he answered. "I mean. It was a car accident that killed him – 18-wheeler t-boned him – but I'm not sure what he'd been working on. We hadn't talked to him in months."
"Was that not… usual?" Adam's voice was soft, and Dean realized with a start that it probably was for this kid.
"Not really," Dean said. "A couple, three weeks sometimes. But never that long without a word."
"Dean!" Sam yelled. "My show is over!"
"OK, tiger," Dean called back. "Why don't you hit the head before we get on the road?"
"We oughta go," Dean said.
"You could stay here," Adam offered. "We've got an extra room."
Dean thought about it, but shook his head. The idea of having to interact with Adam's mother… Dean just wasn't up for it. Not tonight.
"Nah. Thanks, though." He stood.
Adam followed him to the front of the house.
"Well." Dean held out his hand.
Adam shook it. "Yeah." The kid bit his lip. "It was nice to meet you," he said.
"Yeah," Dean said. "We'll keep in touch, OK?"
Adam's face brightened. "Yeah?" he asked.
"Bye, Adam," Sam said, returning from the bathroom. He stepped up and engulfed Adam in a hug.
Adam sucked in a harsh breath – surprised and probably in some pain given the enthusiasm of Sam's embrace. "Bye, Sammy," he managed.
As they went out the door, Dean put a hand on the nape of Sam's neck, guiding him down the stairs and along the walk to the car. When Dean turned, Adam stood in the doorway, a lone silhouette against the mostly darkened house. The kid raised a hand, and Dean returned the gesture.
Adam was still watching as the Impala pulled away.