Title: Faultlines Part 1
Summary: Nothing is stable for Sam, except regret.
Notes: Being a newbie to this fanfiction stuff, I failed to get the whole thing done by the deadline, but by Sunday it will all be up. Sorry for the wait.
Thank you kate-mct for the wonderful prompt. It was interesting to realize that Sam really does seem to move from one regret to another and that as humans we often find it so difficult to bestow forgiveness on both ourselves and others.
Sometimes it felt like all he had were his regrets. He was so sorry, so damn sorry all the time. Sorry for leaving his brother and father chasing an impossible dream of normal. Sorry for being the person his brother sold his soul for. Sorry he couldn't save Dean from hell. Sorry for choosing Ruby over Dean; anger, righteousness, and power over forgiveness, honesty, and yes weakness, but a weakness that he now knows would have set him free. Sorry for freeing Lucifer, for being his chosen one and sorry that the only way to set that deed right was to leave Dean yet again.
And then he had woken up in the panic room and, after removing an IV and stumbling up Bobby's rickety cellar stairs, he had found Dean looking whole and healthy (not beaten to a pulp) and, God, Bobby alive. He had embraced his family and for once, for the first time in a long time felt only gratitude; peace, not regret.
Of course it hadn't lasted. Hints and clues appeared almost immediately that things weren't as hunky-dory as Dean made them out to be. Bobby wouldn't look him in the eyes and Dean, well; Dean wouldn't stop looking him in the eyes, as if he was looking for something. At first he thought his brother was looking for any sign that Lucifer was still hitching a ride, but when Dean left for San Francisco in search of the dragon killing sword, doubts quickly crept up. Bobby wasn't talking and his brother wasn't there so he did what came naturally. He called for Cas. Then the bottom fell out.
No soul. He had spent a year with no soul. His soul had been in the cage and thanks to Death he couldn't remember either time. Doing his best to keep tears from falling Sam had all but begged Cas to "fill him in on a few of the details". The information Cas gave was sketchy, but enough to have his heart beating wildly in his chest and his stomach turning over, threatening to evacuate the donut he had eaten. He had hunted without a soul, had pulled Dean away from the best life he could imagine for his brother, and for reasons he couldn't even begin to fathom he had tried to kill Bobby. Cas seemed to know more, alluded to an incident with a vampire that had really started to solidify Dean's belief that Sam wasn't right. Cas knew more and wasn't telling Sam, which could only mean it was all kinds of wrong.
And so Sam's old friend regret was back. The only difference this time was that he had no real idea what he was sorry for and couldn't even try to find out because to do so could break the wall in his mind and for Dean's sake he couldn't let that happen. The incident in Hartford had proven that. But how the hell did you atone for crimes you don't remember? The decision he finally came to was that he would be the best he could be for Dean and Bobby. He would be someone they could rely on instead of a problem they needed to fix. It wasn't really working out so well so far. Dean was heartbroken about Lisa and Ben; too tired, too weary to really work up much passion for stopping the mother of all and Bobby was distrustful and wary around him. Seemed barely able to be around him at all. But the one truth Sam had been taught about the universe from his earliest memories was Winchesters didn't get easy.
Bobby was bone weary. He really wasn't cut out for fieldwork anymore; was getting too damn old for it. But since the appearance of the mother of all, things had been beyond crazy. And with the numbers of hunters having been decimated during the lead up to the apocalypse that wasn't, there just wasn't need for benchwarmers. As he listened to the accustomed rumble of Dean Winchester's car, he pinched the bridge of his nose and mentally prepared for the next few days.
He looked out the large front window of his office to watch the boys climb out of the car. 'Not boys,' he reminded himself, 'Men.' But damned if he'd ever say that enough for his heart to get the message. They were his boys.
Sam was stretching his tall frame and then hurrying to grab something from the trunk and backseat before Dean had fully pulled himself from behind the wheel. As the older brother watched there was an unidentifiable look on his face and Bobby pretty much knows that kid backward and forward. Then again he also knows that when it came to Sam, Dean was in new territory.
He sure the hell knows that he is because deep down in the darkest corners of himself he has found that he can't grant Sam the one thing he probably needs the most; forgiveness. That deep down dark place seethes with anger and betrayal and the ever-simmering question of why. Why did Sam, even without his soul, want him dead? Yeah Bobby knew that he hadn't wanted to be reunited with his soul and had become as desperate as the robo-version could become, but hell he coulda just left, snuck away, coulda fought it out with Dean. But no, instead he had tried to take Bobby out and the older man will be damned if he can get the image of Sam with the knife poised and eyes cold as ice out of his head. He wishes to hell he could find forgiveness or even understanding, but it ain't there and the stupid wall in the kid's head means he can't fight it out with the youngest Winchester to get to it. So he takes a deep breath, squares his shoulders, and prepares for another hunt where he avoids Sam as much as possible without letting on to Dean that that's what he's doin'.
The impala is his home, his safe, and his memory of family both good and bad and Sam kind of doesn't want to leave. He wonders vaguely if you can be an agoraphobe in a car. The world outside just seems so wrong, so terrifying now. A place where he has done despicable things, where he becomes a monster time and again. It's a place where dark memories lay in wait and finally it's a place where he had failed his family so completely it makes a shudder run through his body.
He casts a sidelong look at Dean, who is looking at his phone with something that could only be called longing marring his features. Thinking of Lisa and Ben Sam knows and he wishes he could send his brother back to them, make him go. But it's not that simple and to suggest anything would cause Dean more pain. So he takes a deep breath and steals himself for what needs to be done.
"I'll get the stuff. We're not leaving until the morning right?"
Dean's head snaps up and it looks for a moment like he's surprised Sam is there. "Yeah, figured we could use the rest after that drive unless Bobby thinks anyone's at risk. You tired Sammy?"
Cas had told him that during his soulless year he hadn't slept, at all, so he guesses that's why Dean is always checking to make sure he's doing so now. "Yeah, a little. Hope there isn't too much research to do. You don't mind if I go right to bed?" Sam smiled at his brother and did his best to put all his sincerity and his love into it. He had been coming to terms with the fact that if he was happy it made Dean's life easier. And that was all he really wanted right now, to lighten the load for Bobby and his brother. Except Dean didn't look relieved. He looked, well Sam isn't quite sure how to define Dean's expression, but it is the kick he needs to get him out of the car.
The openness of Sam's smile had kind of taken his breath away. He had pulled up at Bobby's and couldn't resist the urge to immediately check his phone. Knowing for certain there was no message from either Lisa or Ben didn't in any way restrain his hope that there would be. And then Sam was talking to him, hoping for some sleep which still gave him a little thrill and then his baby brother, his Sammy was smiling at him. Sure it was more than a little forced, but so goddamn open and full of genuine affection that he didn't quite know how to react. And in the moment it took to process all of this Sam was gone, mumbling something about getting the bags and hustling out of the car.
Dean sighed and looked down at his phone again, wishing for a sickening moment he could go back, back to Cold Oak and never make that damn deal. As soon as the thought skittered across his consciousness he recoiled and quickly left the car practically desperate to get Sam back in sight.
Dean never actually knocked on Bobby's door anymore (which Bobby grumbled about, but actually loved) so when a rap sounded he knew that Sam had made it up the stairs first. Before he got there the door opened revealing the Winchesters.
"...go in, Bobby doesn't mind," Dean was saying to Sam and when he saw him finished, "Right Bobby?"
"Boy, when has it ever mattered what I say. You always end up doing whatever you want." He couldn't help the way his eyes slid to Sam. So much to say and no way to say it.
"Uhm, hi Bobby."
"Do you need help researching or could I maybe, um, well you know how it is traveling with Dean. Drives too fast, same four tapes played too damn loud. I didn't get any sleep."
"I'm a better driver than you, granny. If I'da let you drive more, we'd still be in Minnesota." Dean grumbled.
"No go get some sleep. I don't want my back up tired. If I need anything I can come get your idjit brother." Dammit none of that was what he wanted to say and this wasn't getting any easier.
"I'll have your back Bobby. I won't..."
Bobby stops him with a hand held up. "You should both get some rest. As soon as Rufus gets back to me with some info I'll know exactly what we're up against and we can hit the road."
He walks away without another word. Doesn't want to hear Sam's apology for more reasons than he even understands. How the hell do you apologize for trying to kill someone you said was family? Why should you be apologizing when you sacrificed everything for a world that will never know? How do you apologize for something you have no memory of? Didn't keep Bobby from wanting, wanting Sam to feel guilty or something.
"O..oh. Okay. I'll just..." Sam lets his words taper off nodding at the stairs. He and Dean ascend to the second floor and their shared (though the house has plenty of space) room.
Bobby waits for Rufus' call alone thinking on the whole mess around, through, and back again and comes up with the same useless answer every time. God, how he wishes Dean had not made that damn deal. He has no illusions that the kid's only options after Cold Oak had been to somehow get his brother back or join him. Yeah, Dean would have been dead within a year deal or not, but without the deal Bobby could have mourned for two boys he loved without condition, one with a hunters heart and an irrepressible joi de vie and the other with a kind of innocence he'd never seen in a hunter.
As he and Dean head up Bobby stops them, "Sam..." All of his uncertainty is there in the one word.
Sam turns and his face is more than the old man can take. No one so young should look that old, that full of regret and still be trying to smile.
"We'll talk through the lore in the morning, okay."
There is a moment when he considers lying to his brother, but he's never going down that road again. Oh maybe he says he's "fine" when really he feels like breaking down, or heading for the nearest bar, or maybe just needs to sleep for a couple of years, but that's not really a lie. That's just how they've always talked. There are some things that don't need to be articulated. But the hiding kind of lies are right out so instead of a stupid excuse he just ducks his head and has out with it. "Hey, I don't really know why and I don't want you to worry or anything, but um, I was thinking I might spend the night in the car."
Maybe he said it all a bit fast and maybe Dean is more than a little tired. He looks about to drop. It's always like this. His brother can stay awake and alert for hours on end, wide awake until he's not. Sam knows he will be asleep before his head hits his pillow tonight.
"Say that again at half-speed Sammy. You wanna what?" Dean asks pulling off his boots with a satisfied grunt.
"Sleep in the car."
He's pretty sure he heard right the first time, but it didn't make sense so he asked Sam to repeat himself.
"Sleep in the car." Sam says sounding sheepish and contrite.
"What?" he would get to his feet to show how screwed up he thinks the idea is, but he's just too damn tired. Driving from stupid Florida in one stupid go may have been a bad idea. "Why the hell would you wanna do that? No, on second thought don't answer that. I'm freakin' exhausted and I just don't have the energy for this conversation. I won't be able to sleep if you're out there. Just...Sam."
"I'm sorry. If you... I didn't.." Sam often doesn't have the words to finish a statement these days. "Yeah, of course. I'll just.." His giant of a little brother sits on down and starts stripping off his layers.
And yeah there is more he should say, but really the words aren't coming and the only thing he can manage before he falls asleep is to check his phone one last time.