Chapter Nine

Dean sat on one of the chairs in Bobby's kitchen, twirling the beer bottle in his hand. Thoughts ran through his head, all about Sam. How was he going to help his brother when he didn't even know how to help himself? He was drowning in this deep dark ocean of despair and guilt, all these what-ifs filling his heart with remorse and clenching his gut with shame. Sam was damaged, and probably beyond repair. He might never even be the same again.

He immediately felt his palms shoot up to press against the tears unwillingly pooling in his eyes, not wanting to cry in front of Bobby, who was wheeling around the kitchen to prepare food, or Castiel, who stood quietly at the other side of the room, watching all that was happening around him.

Castiel let his ocean-blue eyes fall on Dean, who seemed to be trying to suppress his tears. He knew what he was thinking about, and felt an uncomfortable, odd sense for his friend (he thought it might be sympathy), knowing how much his brother meant to him. He felt an urgent need to act, to relieve him of his emotional anguish, but it seemed that he still didn't understand human emotions that well.

Bobby forced a small smile as he wheeled to Dean with a plate of food. The silence in this house was tense and uneasy, and it made him feel suffocated. He hadn't found out much from Dean, although he planned to find out the answers of the questions that kept whirling in his mind. All he knew was that Sam wasn't the same anymore and that he didn't trust anyone to come near him. Not even Dean. But he knew that Dean was the one who was going to get through to Sam out of all of them.

He placed the plate in front of Dean, the clink of it on the table bringing Dean out of his reverie. He stopped playing with the bottle and lifted his gaze to Bobby, and then back down to the food in front of him. Dean licked his lips and returned a small smile of gratitude and appreciation for all his hospitality.

"Eat up, ya idjit," Bobby ordered softly.

"I...I will," he replied and huffed out a small sigh, before he grabbed the edges of the plate and stood up, turning on his heel to the door. "But Sammy needs to eat first." He bit his lip and added, "I'm not going to eat when he's starvin'."

He walked out of the kitchen, leaving behind the sad stares following him out of the room.


Dean swallowed and rested his palm flat against the door, ready to push it open. He closed his eyes and laid his forehead against the door, breathing deeply, before slowly pushing against the mahogany and poking his head in with a light knock.

Sammy was there and fully-awake, sitting cross-legged and rocking back and forth on the further corner of the room. The image reminded him of a younger Sammy, sitting there like that after a bad day at school, or after a huge fight with dad, or when the nightmares of Jessica's death haunted him and he didn't want to sleep.

Sam flinched and stilled at the click of the door, hauled his legs up to his chest and held them close at the sight of him.

Dean opened the door completely, slowly slid inside the room and crouched quietly in front of him. He bit his lip, his heart feeling like it was breaking in two because he just couldn't bear to see his brother like this.

He put the plate down and murmured gently. "Not gonna hurt you, Sammy. Just want you to get your strength up a little, 'kay?"

At that, Sam slowly lifted his head and looked up at him, wide eyes bruised and blood-shot from lack of sleep. Dean smiled softly at him, a touch of sadness in it. Sam tentatively shook his head and quickly buried his face into his knees and covered his ears, as if expecting horrible words to be screamed at him.

But none came.

"Sammy, you need to eat somethin'," he said softly, carefully pushed the food toward him.

Sam stared down at the plate sliding in his direction.

Dean sighed, knowing his brother wouldn't feel comfortable if he was in the room. He stood up on stiff legs with a groan, walking out of the room.

But he stayed standing outside of the room, the door open a crack, and he watched as his Sammy slowly uncurled and reached for the sandwich, tearing chunks of small pieces with trembling hands and eating them.

He ran his fingers down on the door, letting a small smile break into his face. He could eat peacefully now.


They both ate in silence. Castiel had decided to continue his mission in searching for God and disappeared with a promise of coming back later. Bobby had been meaning to ask a few questions about what happened with Sam, but it seemed like he couldn't spit them out, the words stuck on the tip of his tongue, clenched behind his teeth. But now really felt like a good time, anything to break this uncomfortable stretch of silence. Dean was tense, and Bobby knew that he was waiting for him to start badgering him for answers.

"So, Dean," Bobby began, and continued when Dean glanced up at him, chewing. "What happened while you were there?"

There was something in his face when he asked it, something akin to sorrow and terror, something that horrified him. His face was suddenly drained of color, and he looked nauseous.

"Dean?" Bobby pressed, his voice softening.

Dean's eyes remained on his food, avoiding eye-contact with him, like he didn't want him to see all the emotions in them.

Bobby exhaled, deciding to let him off with this question. He had already seen enough on his expression. "Well, they didn't hurt you, did they?"

Dean swallowed and shook his head. "They only wanted to hurt Sammy." And that's the worst pain they could ever inflict on me went unsaid, but Bobby knew that already.

There was a dull pain aching in Bobby's chest for his boys. It was hard for him to watch them like this. He sighed again and decided to ask the question that had been bugging him above all the others. "And who were the hunters?"

Dean looked at him and looked away, huffing out a small chuckle. "Out of all the hunters it could have was an old friend of dad's," he snarled angrily. "Tim." He spat out the name with such disgust and venom that even Bobby would have flinched if he wasn't so well-trained at hiding his reactions, but that wasn't what made him freeze and drop his spoon to the table. He paled, turning wide, horrified eyes to the elder Winchester.

"I...oh God, damnit," Bobby whispered, aghast, and shook his head remorsefully. "That son of a bitch. God, I should have never sent those bastards to the kid."

Dean jerked up from his seat so fast that the dishes on the table rattled. "You what?!" he yelled incredulously, furious. "Bobby, you knew better than that, damnit!"

Bobby didn't flinch. He knew that this was coming. "Look, I really didn't know. If I did, I would have never done such a thing."

"Bobby, you know the hunters would have been after him after...after..." he trailed off, not wanting to mention the events of the past year.

Bobby sighed guiltily. "I'm really sorry, Dean. I didn't know."

Dean stared at him, but then he closed his eyes and plonked back down on the chair defeatedly, running a hand wearily down his face. "Actually...I'm sorry." He bit the inside of his cheek and shook his head lightly. "The fault is mostly mine... I shouldn't have turned him down when he asked to come back in... I should have been there to protect him," he confessed miserably, his voice cracking with emotion. He swallowed, closing his eyes.

"Don't say that, boy, ya know it's not your fault. Yeah, I mean, ya shouldn't have said no when he wanted to join you again, ain't your fault." He breathed a sigh and turned his stare to where Sam might be right now. "If you wanna blame anyone for the state he's in, you can blame me, or that bastard Tim."

Dean sighed and swallowed, nodding slightly. The conversation didn't make him feel any better, because he still blamed himself for what happened to Sam (something told him he'd never stop), but he knew that the hunters' were the ones to blame the most, and he was going to make them all feel the wrath of Dean Winchester.

Because they touched my little brother.

Author's Note: Thank you all so much for the support with all your reviews/favs/alerts. And thank you all for the amazing birthday wishes. They made me really, really happy! :)