Chapter Sixteen: Wonderwall
Dean relaxed his grip on his brother when he felt Sam lift his chin from his shoulder.
Without looking at his brother, Dean spoke, "You with me?"
"D'n?" the response was raspy- as though Sam hadn't spoken in days- and uncertain.
"Yeah," the eldest Winchester answered and Sam pulled away from him- but only to get a better look at him- and Dean saw the confusion in his brother's eyes.
"Where are we?" Sam asked and then his eyes widened as he took in the sight of the gravestones surrounding them, "How… how did I get here?"
"I think you walked," Dean joked lightly and Sam closed his eyes.
"Hey, it's okay," he assured his younger brother and pulled him into a hug once more.
Jody had stepped back from the Winchesters as soon as Sam began to stir in his brother's arms; giving the two young men some privacy but now she glanced worriedly at Dean and the eldest Winchester smiled, letting her know everything was alright.
Dean rubbed soothing circles between his brother's shoulder blades, anxious to get back to Jody's but not wanting Sam to feel rushed.
"You're okay now," Dean murmured, "I've got ya."
"When's it going to stop, Dean?" Sam whispered, his voice slightly muffled as his cheek rested against his older brother's shoulder.
Dean sighed. He wanted to have some good news for his brother, be confident like he usually was but Dean just didn't have it in him, "I don't know, Sammy. Soon, I hope."
Dean glanced at Jody when the Sheriff lifted her head and tracked a white Subaru as it rolled slowly down the paved path across from them- just someone visiting a deceased family member- and carefully pushed Sam out of their hug.
"It's getting a little crowded here," he said with a slight smirk, "What do you say we head back home?"
Sam nodded and wiped his red-rimmed eyes and tear-streaked cheeks with his sleeve. Dean helped him get up; Sam's legs were trembling slightly and he grabbed onto his brother's jacket for support.
Jody walked on one side of the youngest Winchester while his brother took the other, the Sheriff laying a comforting hand on Sam's arm as they wove through the gravestones towards the Impala.
Dean, always highly attuned to his brother, caught his breath whenever Sam's eyes shifted away from their path, to the periphery as though he was seeing something among the headstones that he and Jody could not.
Dean kept silent. Sam was okay. He wasn't flipping out so that was good at least. It was most likely his brother was exhausted from his previous hallucination and residual terrors were leaking through.
Once Sam was sitting safely in the front passenger seat of the Impala, Dean relaxed even more. Jody sat in the back, behind Dean's seat and the eldest Winchester hoped that she was their only extra passenger.
Dean didn't turn on any music. He didn't want to listen to rock n' roll right then. What he wanted to listen to was the sound of his brother's even breathing.
Sam rested his head against the window and closed his eyes; Dean hoped that his brother was getting some much needed rest and drove slowly so that he wouldn't have to wake his sibling too soon.
Jody remained silent. She was chewing her lip, a pensive expression on her face.
Dean glanced at the Sheriff's reflection in the rearview mirror and smirked, "Penny for your thoughts?"
The middle-aged woman let out a breathy chuckle, "It's nothing."
Dean's narrowed his eyes, "No it isn't. C'mon, tell me."
Jody shook her head, "No, it's dumb."
Dean sighed, "It isn't like I haven't heard my share of dumb thoughts… or had them, you know."
Jody nodded, "Alright… I was just thinking about Sam and how nice it feels to be needed again… I haven't felt needed by someone in a long time… not even with my work… Sioux Falls is pretty laid-back for a city of its size. I was just thinking about my son and how I missed being a mother and now with you two staying at my place it kind of feels like I've got that instinct… intuition… whatever you want to call it, back again."
Dean remained silent for a long moment.
"I think that's what made me ask you to come here in the first place… what made me snap at you for letting Sam walk out…"
"Oh no," Jody exclaimed, "I'm sorry… I didn't mean too…"
"Nah," Dean replied, "It's okay. I understand."
Dean couldn't help but think about Bobby. Although he hadn't been related to them by blood he was their father anyways, more of a father than John had ever been. Even though the grizzled hunter had never said it out loud, Dean knew that Bobby felt exactly the same way as Jody felt. That seemed to be what had endeared the Winchester boys to the man all those years ago when their father dropped them on his porch and left without a word.
Dean just hoped that Jody's need to care about them- to care for them- wouldn't end as it had for Bobby.
The Sheriff and the hunter didn't speak after that and simply sat in companionable silence.
They arrived back at Jody's house far too soon and Dean was tempted to just continue down the street so he wouldn't have to wake his brother.
"Sam," Dean said quietly after Jody had exited the vehicle, already moving up to unlock her front door, "Sammy, wake up."
His brother didn't startle at least; Sam opened his eyes blearily and turned to look at him.
"Dean?" he asked as though he wasn't sure who had been speaking to him.
"Of course," Dean replied, "We're back at Jody's."
Sam looked past Dean as though to confirm his brother's words and slumped back in the seat.
"It's all real, Sammy," Dean assured his brother, "We're in Sioux Falls."
Sam nodded, "I know, Dean… It's just… I'm… I'm never sure o-of it anymore…"
Dean's eyes pinched in concern and he reached out to place his hand on the side of his brother's face, "That's why we're here… so that you always know… so that you always feel safe."
Sam leaned into his brother's touch and closed his eyes for a moment. Dean gave his brother time. Whenever Sam was uncertain and scared, Dean would give him all the time in the world.
Sam's eyes snapped open, startling Dean- was he going to have another hallucination- and he turned away from his brother, scrabbling at the door handle.
"Sam!" Dean cried, "Sammy, it's okay, it's alright!"
Sam wasn't listening, he was nearly gasping for air and once he flung the door open he stumbled out of the car, looking confused.
Dean shot out of the driver's side door and ran around the front of the Impala to his brother's side.
"I'm… okay… I think…" Sam muttered and sighed, squeezing his eyes shut for a second before opening them again, "I'm sorry."
Dean shook his head, "Don't apologize… It's not your fault."
Sam nodded sheepishly and took a steadying breath, "I'm fine. I'm alright."
Dean reached out his hand and squeezed the back of his brother's neck comfortingly, "C'mon, let's go in."
Dean locked up the Impala and the two of them went into Jody's house. With a quick, almost apologetic look at the Sheriff, Dean steered his brother towards the stairs and within minutes had Sam lying down in the beds in the guest room on the left side of the hall.
"Try and get some sleep, Sammy," Dean pulled the dark red comforter up to his brother's chin.
It was clear that Sam was exhausted, his eyes already starting to droop listlessly.
Good boy, Dean smiled. He hoped that his brother would be able to rest for at least a little while without nightmares.
Sam struggled awake hours later, thrashing in bed, the blankets tangled around him and he cried out in fear.
Pounding footsteps and a voice shouting his name only scared him more and Sam curled up protectively, his hands over his head and his knees pulled up to his chest.
"Sammy!" Dean's voice called, concerned but Sam didn't answer him.
"Sam?" a gentle hand touched his shoulder and Sam tensed, his breath held.
"It's just me," Dean said, "It's okay."
Sam refused to react. He wondered what Lucifer was going to do to him now.
Dean sighed and Sam felt the mattress dip as he sat down. Sam inched away from his brother, eyes shut tightly.
"Sammy," Dean's voice said and Sam felt a hand rubbing circles on his back, "You're awake. You just had a nightmare."
Sam's breathed hitched in his chest. He wished he could go back to sleep so Lucifer would stop taunting him.
"It's okay, Sammy," Dean murmured, "You're safe."
I'm never going to be safe again; Sam thought and choked back a sob. He heard Dean- was it really Dean- give a sharp intake of breath and the pressure on the mattress was lifted. Sam listened listlessly to the footsteps as his brother left the room and walked down the stairs.
Relief washed over Sam, grateful for the respite, not matter how small.
Only moments seemed to pass before Sam heard footsteps again.
No, he thought desperately, please no… just give me a little more time… please…
"I can't get him to wake up," Sam heard Dean's voice again and wondered what Lucifer was up to.
"Sam," a woman's voice- a familiar voice- spoke his name softly, "Honey, it's alright. Everything's okay; no one's going to hurt you."
Sam didn't react. He kept his eyes closed tightly and curled up as tight as possible.
"Sam," the woman continued, "It's just your brother, Dean and me… Jody Mills. You remember me, right?"
Jody Mills? The Sheriff from Sioux Falls?
Sam slowly, cautiously opened his eyes and saw Jody's concerned face above his; her brown eyes full of compassion and her brow furrowed with anxiety.
"It's alright Sam, no one is going to hurt you," Jody said softly and reached out one hand.
Sam allowed the Sheriff to lay a hand on his shoulder. If this was all some kind of trick of Lucifer's he just wanted to get it over with and if not- if this was all real- than he didn't want to make Jody feel bad.
Sam took a deep breath, "Are you real?"
Jody nodded and Dean's face appeared beside hers, equally concerned and anxious.
"You had a nightmare," his brother told him and Sam glanced down at the bed sheets.
He should have known he wasn't still in Hell. He never really slept while he was there, he never dreamed.
"Oh… Okay," Sam muttered, not sure what else to say. He sat up and leaned against the headboard. He felt exhausted even though he was sure he'd slept a while.
"You want something to drink?" Dean asked, hovering.
Sam shook his head. He wrapped his arms around his midsection, not even aware that he was doing so and closed his eyes again.
"Are you alright?" Jody asked and Sam nodded.
"You sure you don't need anything, Sammy?" Dean asked.
"I'm fine…" Sam muttered. Dean looked like he wanted to insist that Sam should eat or drink something but he kept his mouth shut.
Jody gave both Winchesters a motherly smile and left the room. Dean hesitated before sitting down on the edge of the bed.
"You… ah, want to talk?" he asked his younger brother. Sam fiddled with the sheets.
"I don't really remember it, Dean," Sam answered truthfully. His older brother nodded and rested his elbows on his knees.
"Sam," he said after a moment's pause, "I'm sorry about earlier. I shouldn't have let you leave."
"You didn't know-" Sam began but Dean shook his head, "I did, though! I knew you were having trouble and I still let you go."
Sam glanced down at the blankets. He bit his lip. He wanted to tell Dean that he was sorry for causing so much trouble but he knew Dean wouldn't listen. Dean shouldn't have to worry if he was going to freak out all the time.
"I should have listened to you, Dean," Sam whispered, "You said things weren't going to change overnight or anything like that but I just… I just…"
Dean reached out one hand and laid it comfortingly on his brother's knee.
"It wasn't your fault, Sammy," he said sternly but kindly, "It's never your fault. You just do whatever you need to do, alright?"
Sam nodded. He still felt bad for walking out on his brother. He should have known something bad would happen. The hallucinations had been getting worse since they'd left Whitefish.
"I didn't mean to make you worry about me," he admitted.
Dean frowned but said nothing. He gave Sam's knee one more squeeze before letting go.
"Sam," he ventured cautiously and the younger man glanced up, "I was thinking… maybe you'd try taking those pills Dr. Plummer gave us? Maybe they could help."
"I… I don't know, Dean," Sam said quietly.
"It wouldn't hurt to try, you think?" Dean pressed. He knew Sam was reluctant to take the medication, he knew his brother thought it only confirmed that he was crazy but Dean just wanted him to have some relief for once, wherever it came from.
Jody or no, Sam was still suffering from his memories and maybe the meds would take the edge off until the Sheriff's presence really started having an effect on his brother's psyche.
Sam's red-rimmed green eyes bored into his older brother's for a long moment and Dean had to force himself to not look away from the haunted look in them before his sibling spoke.
"O-okay Dean," Sam muttered, barely audible, "But if they don't work, I'm going to stop taking them."
"That's all I'm asking," Dean breathed a sigh of relief.
Sam watched sadly as his brother stood and walked out of the room; going to get the medication Dr. Plummer had prescribed.
"First step before Dean's sending you to the funny farm," Lucifer whispered in Sam's ear and the young man cringed away from the cold breath on the side of his face.
"Dean wouldn't do that," Sam muttered, "He promised me he'd never do that to me."
"I can hear the confidence in your voice," Lucifer answered sarcastically.
Sam looked up as Dean walked back in, holding a glass of water and the pills in his hands. Sitting down on the bed beside his brother, Dean first gave Sam the cup and then held out the pills in his palm.
"Go on Sammy," Lucifer mocked, "Take the pills."
The young man ignored him and Dean tipped the pills into his hand, "It's just for a little while, okay Sammy?"
Sam nodded as he washed the pills down with water. He trusted his brother, trusted Dean when he said that the last thing he wanted to do was have him institutionalized.
Lucifer sighed, looking bored.
"You didn't put up much of a fight," he commented, raising an eyebrow.
Sam didn't answer. He gave the empty glass back to his brother.
"Why don't you try and get some more sleep, Sammy? You look like you could use it," Dean suggested and stood up.
Sam settled back down in the bed and pulled the dark red blankets up to his chin. He was tired. He was always tired.
"I'll be back up in a couple of hours," Dean said and left the room, closing the door quietly.
Sam closed his eyes and concentrated on keeping his breathing even. He tried to clear his mind of all thoughts so he would be able to get to sleep quickly.
"Next thing you know, Dean's going to be driving up to some mental hospital, saying 'it's just for a little while, Sammy'."
Sam frowned. Why couldn't Lucifer leave him alone? He knew that the Devil wasn't real. So why wasn't he vanishing?
"Because you're so much fun to toy with."
Sam rolled over onto his side and pulled the blankets over his head. He wanted to drown out Lucifer's voice so he could try and get some rest.
Dean headed back downstairs and into the kitchen. The orange prescription bottles for the anti-psychotic, antidepressant and the small blue and white cardboard box containing the sleep aid- which Dean would give Sam later- almost seemed to mock the hunter as he grabbed a beer from the refrigerator.
Wandering into the living room, Dean saw Jody sitting on the couch, a book of Sudoku puzzles. She glanced up when Dean entered, "How's he doing?"
The hunter shrugged, "He's okay; he took the pills without arguing."
Jody nodded, her expression sympathetic.
"He'll be alright, Dean," she assured the young man.
Dean opened his bottle of beer, took a swig and sat down on one of the chocolate brown chairs.
"I know," he muttered, "It's just hard seeing him like this… he's been scared for so long… I just want this to stop."
Oh God I hope this works, Dean thought. I hope Jody can help Sam get better, help him tell the difference between reality and hallucination.
As though she could read his thoughts, Jody spoke up again, "You're doing everything you can to help Sam."
But is it enough? Dean wondered. Have I waited too long? Is this a permanent thing for Sammy now?
Dean gulped down almost all of his beer as though trying to drown his depressing thoughts.
Stop it! This will work! Jody's been able to calm Sam down before and it'll work again. The more time he spends around her the better he'll get.
"I have a twelve-hour shift tomorrow," Jody's voice interrupted Dean's thoughts, "So it'll just be you and Sam."
"Twelve hours alone with my brother?" Dean joked, "How will I ever survive?"
Jody chuckled but the worry was clear on the young man's face. She could almost hear his thoughts: Good day or bad day tomorrow?
"If you're looking for things to do tomorrow," Jody said, smiling, "You could always go to the zoo."
Dean grinned. He knew the Sheriff was talking about the Great Plains Zoo. He and Sam hadn't gone there since Bobby had taken them when they were kids. Sam had loved the place. Dean… not so much but, hey, it made Sam happy so he wasn't going to complain.
"Yeah, maybe," he mused, "I'll have to see how he's feeling in the morning."
Dean finished his beer and stood up, intending to get himself another refreshment, "You want anything?"
"Coffee," Jody answered, her attention back on Sudoku puzzles.
Dean nodded and glanced down at his empty bottle.
Maybe I should quit while I'm ahead.
Dean put the bottle in the recycling and prepared the coffee, taking out two mugs.
Turning around as he waited for the coffee maker to percolate, Dean spied the bottles of meds again. Grimacing, he opened the drawer beneath them- full of cutlery- and swiped them inside with his hand.
Hopefully they gave some peace until Jody's presence really started to help Sam.
Sam was drowning.
He kicked his legs furiously and his arms windmilled but he could not stay afloat.
Slipping beneath the surface, Sam gasped, sucking in a great mouthful of the dark red liquid that was definitely not water. The coppery tang filled Sam's sinuses and he choked.
Struggling, Sam managed to get his head up and greedily breathed in air rank with the stench of sulphur and burnt flesh.
"D'N!" he cried out as loud as he could before being dragged under again.
Sam knew he wouldn't be able to hold out much longer, the muscles in his legs screamed for him to stop and his lungs ached.
Pressure built up in Sam's chest as all his air was pushed out. Bright spots burst in front of Sam's eyes and he felt lightheaded.
Too weak to continue fighting, Sam stopped struggling and sank deeper.
As his oxygen-deprived brain failed, Sam couldn't help but wonder where his brother was. Why would Dean let him drown? Was his brother even now searching the lake worriedly for him?
Sam's eyes closed of their own accord as the last vestiges of life left his body, his last conscious thought only a wish to see his brother one more time…
…Sam gasped and sat straight up in bed. Eyes wild, he stared uncomprehending at the furniture around him- nightstand and chest of drawers- as he choked. Spying the red comforter pooled at his waist, Sam shoved it to the end of the bed with disgust and shivered, wrapping his arms around his middle.
He was alright. He wasn't drowning. There was no blood.
Sam moaned in fear, wanting to call out for his brother- make sure that Dean really was still with him- but he couldn't get his mouth to open.
Closing his eyes, Sam swallowed thickly, tasting the metallic residue of blood in the back of his throat.
"I admit, not one of our greatest hits but still immensely entertaining," Lucifer's cold voice whispered to Sam.
The young man cringed and the Devil laughed.
Sam gripped his left hand tightly, knowing by now that it wouldn't help, and pressed his right thumb against the palm.
Lucifer sighed and rolled his ice-blue eyes.
"Why don't you go back to sleep again? Like big brother suggested," he commented and Sam shook his head. If he went back to sleep he knew he would have nightmares.
Eyes wide, trying to ignore Lucifer, Sam ground his teeth together as he pressed his thumb against the scar on his palm.
"Why don't you cut yourself," The Devil advised, "Maybe that will help."
"Shut up," Sam whispered as tears welled up in his eyes.
Lucifer smirked, "You know it'll make you feel better."
Sam shook his head. He couldn't. Dean would be mad at him again.
"I'll make you a deal," the Devil coaxed, "You grab the pair of scissors that bitch has in her medicine cabinet in the bathroom across the hall and I'll go away for the night."
"Nuh-No," Sam stammered, "Dean will-"
"Dean's going to ship you off one of these days," Lucifer said, "I don't know why you can't see that. He's going to get tired of taking care of you and he'll leave you in some mental hospital and never see you again."
"He won't," Sam whimpered, "He can't."
He couldn't help but wondered what would happen if Jody couldn't help him. Maybe he did deserve to be locked up. The tears in Sam's eyes overflowed and dripped down his cheeks.
Lucifer tapped his chin with one finger, "Instead of cutting up your palm, maybe you should slice open your wrists and spare your brother the trouble of putting you down like a dog."
"Y-you said Dean w-would send me away," Sam whispered.
The Devil nodded.
"That is one option," he confessed, "But since Dean won't do that, he'll probably end up taking you behind the shed in the backyard and shoot you like Old Yeller."
Sam wrapped his arms around his middle and his breathing became rapid as the idea of Dean killing him like a rabid dog, sank in.
"Please," Sam moaned, "He… he's my brother… he wouldn't…"
"He will, Sam," Lucifer said in mock sympathy, "One way or another, Dean's going to get rid of you."
Dean climbed the stairs slowly, hoping that Sam was getting some rest. Hoping that his brother didn't hate him too much for asking him to take Dr. Plummer's meds. As he approached the door to Sam's room, Dean paused. He could hear the muffled sound of his brother's voice and his heart began to pound anxiously.
"Sammy-" Dean pushed the door open and called his brother's name, pausing when he saw his brother.
"Sam! No!" Dean all but leaped into the room when he saw the light flash on the blade of a pair of scissors in Sam's hand.
The younger man jumped and nearly dropped the scissors. Dean grabbed his brother's hand, closing his fingers over Sam's and wrenched the scissors from him.
"God damn it Sam!" Dean shouted and glanced down at his brother's wrists. They were both unmarred. Dean had arrived there in time.
He heard footsteps pounding up the stairs as Jody ran towards the sound of his voice.
"What's wrong?" the Sheriff asked but Dean didn't answer. He pulled Sam into his arms, squishing his brother against him.
"Why, Sammy?" Dean asked through gritted teeth, "Why?"
"H-he s-said you…" Sam whimpered, "He t-told me you wuh-were going to k-kill me."
Dean squeezed his eyes closed as he felt tears begin to burn in them, "Why would I do that, Sammy?"
"Y-you're g-going to get tired o-o-of looking after me all the t-time," Sam stammered, "I'm huh-not going to g-get better… L-lucifer won't l-let me."
Dean clung to his brother even more tightly, sure that it was painful for Sam but he didn't care. He wished this would stop.
"You're going to kick this, Sam," Dean said determinedly, "I promise."
"Y-you keep saying th-that," his brother whimpered, "Buh- but…"
Dean hadn't even noticed Jody slip away to the bathroom to wet a wash cloth with cold water. He peered over his shoulder when she said, "here," and handed him the cloth.
Without letting go of Sam, Dean used the washcloth to brush his brother's bangs back from his forehead, the motion hopefully soothing.
He's getting worse, a voice in Dean's head told him; you know that don't you?
Grinding his teeth together in denial, Dean murmured comfortingly to Sam. Dean didn't know what else he could do. He was constantly being undermined by Lucifer- a figment of Sam's traumatized mind- and how the heck was he supposed to beat that?
Dean looked up when Sam slowly walked down the stairs. Although it was only eight AM the eldest Winchester was awake and ready to tackle the day. He managed a smile for Sam when he entered the kitchen. Jody was long gone, starting her shift at five, so the brothers were alone.
"You want some breakfast, Sammy?" Dean asked, hoping that Sam would say yes.
Instead his brother shook his head and sat down across from Dean, looking morose.
"Dr. Plummer's pills didn't help," Sam mumbled sadly.
Dean sighed, "Sam, they aren't going to start working right away, you know that."
His brother nodded once and lowered his gaze, his expression one of shame.
Dean wiped a hand over his face; this was not how he wanted the day to start out.
Standing, the older brother went to the cupboard and grabbed a box of cereal- the blandest he could find- and a bowl. Pouring the plain puffed wheat into the bowl, Dean told himself that Sam's puppy eyes were not going to work. He told himself that Sam was going to eat- damn it- whether he wanted to o not. Grabbing the jug of milk from the fridge, Dean splash some into the bowl, fished a spoon from the drawer and slid it all across the table towards his brother.
Sam- as Dean knew he would- stared at the bowl of cereal for a long moment before turning his bruised eyes on him.
"We've got a big day ahead of us, Sammy," Dean sat down across from his brother, "So you need to eat."
"What big day?" Sam asked and Dean almost cringed at the suspicion in his voice. It wasn't even false, play suspicion either, like the time when Sam was ten and Dean had arranged some kids from school to come to his little brother's birthday party even though the youngest Winchester had expected nothing to mark the anniversary of his birth, no, this was where are we going what's going to happen what are you going to do to me suspicion.
Dean smiled even though he really didn't feel like doing so, "We're going to go to the zoo."
Sam stared at his brother incredulously.
"We haven't been to the zoo since I was six," he said quietly.
Dean shrugged, "Than its about time we go again."
There was no way Dean was going to sit around the house all day. He couldn't do it. So, taking Jody's advice, he'd decided that he and Sam would go to the zoo. Sam had loved the place as a kid and Dean was sure he'd love it now. The idea of doing normal, apple pie activities always appealed to Sam and though the zoo might not be on the top of Dean's list of fun-filled places, he doubted Sam would appreciate going to a bar or strip club right now.
"I don't want to go," Sam mumbled and lowered his gaze to his cereal bowl.
"You're going," Dean told him, realizing he probably sounded like their father but not being able to take it back now.
Dean could have kicked himself as a look of fear crossed Sam's face, blossomed in his green eyes, before he nodded resignedly.
"…And I'll be right there with you," Dean continued lamely, "The entire time. Won't let you out of my sight. Hey, maybe I'll get one of those leashes people put on their kids…"
Sam didn't smile. He just stared at the puffed wheat as it grew soggy in the milk.
What are you doing Dean? The older brother thought. Sam shouldn't go out in public. He should be staying at home, in bed, sleeping.
"What if something happens?" Sam asked, his voice barely audible, "What if Lucifer comes-"
"Nothing will happen," Dean assured him, "And if it does, I'll be right there. We'll get past it and just keep going. Okay?"
Sam didn't want to go to the zoo. He was afraid. He was scared that he would freak out and everyone would stare at him. He knew if that happened, the police would come and take him away from Dean.
"I don't want to go, Dean," Sam repeated quietly, his right thumb pressing down on the cut on his left hand.
Dean sighed, "I promise it'll be okay, Sammy. If things start going downhill you just tell me and we'll take a break, alright?"
Why couldn't they just stay here? Sam was exhausted- nightmares kept him awake- and he just wanted to go to sleep (if he could).
"Eat your cereal, Sammy," Dean said, knowing that the puffed wheat would be mush by now.
Not wanting to look into his brother's sad, kicked puppy eyes, Dean stood and took his cup of coffee into the living room, turning the television onto a news station to watch the weather.
Sam stared nervously at the people milling around the entrance to the zoo. Families with toddlers and babies in strollers, even teenagers, all talking and laughing over one another. They were all healthy and happy. Unlike him. They didn't have Hell following them around like a demented shadow.
Sam's attention focused on his brother when Dean nudged his shoulder, "C'mon Sammy. Here's your ticket."
Sam took the proffered slip of paper from his brother's hand but couldn't seem to manage to smile back at Dean.
Dean sighed and clapped Sam on the shoulder, "You look like someone just died."
"Sorry," Sam mumbled as he allowed his brother to guide him to the zoo's entrance. The day was perfect for such an outing. Bright and sunny but not too warm. There were puffy white clouds in the sky but not a bit of rain on the horizon.
"Ticket, sir," the security guard at the entrance said in a bored tone and Sam handed it over. The man punched a hole through it and handed it back; Sam stuffed the piece of paper into his pocket.
"Where do you want to go first, Sammy?" Dean asked, giving him a genuine smile.
"I don't know, Dean, wherever you want to," Sam muttered.
"Reptiles it is!" his brother exclaimed and steered him in the direction of the herpetarium.
Sam leaned back against the bench and smiled. Really smiled for the first time in a long time. The sounds of carefree people lifted Sam's spirits. The had been at the zoo for a few hours and it was nearing lunchtime. Kids with ice cream-smeared faces and sticky fingers ran down the grey cobblestoned street while their parents walked arm in arm, munching lazily on hotdogs or sipping sodas.
"Hey," Sam glanced up when Dean sat down beside him, handing him a cup, "I hope you like 7 Up."
"Thanks," he muttered and took the drink from his brother.
Dean nodded and took a sip from his own cup, "You hungry yet?"
Sam watched as Dean's eyes hungrily tracked an obese man stuffing a turnover into his mouth.
Sam shook his head and drank some of his soda. He tried to avoid his brother's irritated gaze but failed.
"Dean," Sam began but his brother interrupted him.
"Don't 'Dean' me, Sam," he said sternly, "You've got to eat."
"Maybe later, okay?"
Dean smiled wryly, "Nice try. We're eating now. What do you want?"
Sam frowned at his brother as Dean stood.
"Seriously, Sam," Dean said, no longer smiling, "If you don't tell me what you want I'll pick something out for you."
Sighing, the younger brother glanced downwards and shrugged, "Whatever, Dean."
When he looked up again, his brother was gone and Sam's shoulders slumped.
Sam's attention was drawn to a little boy dragging a large plush zebra behind him. The child was following an older boy who clearly didn't want to be at the zoo. He had his hat on backwards, headphones blasting music so loud that even Sam could hear it.
"Chris… Chris… wait for me!" the boy cried, struggling to keep up with his older sibling.
The older boy stopped and rolled his eyes, "Hurry up, Eric."
"But… but…" the smaller boy protested.
"This place is stupid," Chris complained and grabbed a hold of his brother's hand and began pulling him along.
"I wanna see the elephants," Eric whined but his brother didn't stop, he only sighed and snarked, "I don't know why Mom and Dad made me come here. This is so lame."
"Sam!" Dean's voice startled Sam and he looked to see his brother standing in front of him, arms laden with food.
Chuckling, Sam's brother sat down on the bench beside him.
"Did you buy the whole store?" Sam asked and tried to smile at his brother.
"I thought you said you weren't hungry," Dean said with a smirk.
Sam sighed, just hoping that his brother hadn't gotten him something spicy or greasy.
"Here," Dean said and waved a wrap of some sort in Sam's face.
"What's in this?" he asked and took the paper wrapped sandwich.
"Lettuce, tomato, chicken and mayo," Dean commented, opening a sack-sized bag of M&M's, "You know, boring stuff you like."
Sam smiled and took a tentative bite of the wrap. It actually didn't taste bad. Even if Sam wasn't hungry.
Dean smiled knowingly and stuffed a handful of candy into his mouth, chewing loudly.
The day was too good to be true. Sam hadn't felt this normal in a very long time. He was actually starting to feel more and more confident as the day wound down. There was just one more exhibit Dean wanted to see- the wolves- and was now dragging Sam down the street, past other zoo patrons, one hand holding his wrist tightly.
The sun was going down, its red rays casting long shadows, as the brothers stepped up to the habitat fashioned to resemble a forest. Dean leaned over the low railing, stared intently into the glass enclosure.
"Hm," Dean muttered, "Do you see anything, Sammy?"
The younger man shook his head. Around him, families were turning away disappointed, murmuring quietly that it was about time they headed home.
"They're not coming out, Dean," Sam commented, "They're not going to show just because-"
The youngest Winchester stopped mid-sentence as he caught sight of a dark shadow flash through the trees close to the glass of the enclosure. The hairs on the back of Sam's neck rose up and his heart began to pound nervously.
It's just a wolf, Sam told himself uncertainly, that's all.
He glanced at Dean from the corner of his eye to try and gauge whether or not his brother had seen the shadow as well. Dean, however, was staring, narrow-eyed at the trees.
"Dean," Sam muttered, "They're not here."
It was as though Sam hadn't spoken. Dean ignored him.
There was a second shadow among the foliage and Sam unconsciously leaned forward.
A Hellhound burst from the undergrowth and barrelled towards the glass, foam flying from its blood-smeared snout, its eyes burned like coals. The beast smashed in the the glass right in front of Sam, cracking it.
The young man stumbled back with a startled cry. Completely forgetting Dean was with him, Sam turned to flee and found himself staring eye-to-eye with Adam.
"No," Sam breathed and backed away from his brother, towards the wolf habitat.
Adam smiled cruelly and began walking forward. Sam cringed when the Hellhound smashed into the glass once again, its snarling drowning out every other sound.
"Please… please…" Sam whispered, terrified, "I'm sorry…"
"Sam!" He jumped when he felt someone grab his shoulder and shake him, "Sammy! C'mon man, snap out of it!"
Sam curled away from the voice and whimpered, wishing he'd disappear. Closing his eyes, Sam wrapped his arms around his middle in a vain attempt to protect himself.
"Sammy! Sam! You're scaring me, c'mon!" Dean's voice called, "Say something."
Hesitantly opening his eyes again, Sam realized he was sitting on the cold cobblestone ground where he had fallen. He was right in front of the wolf enclosure; Dean crouched beside him with a hand on his shoulder.
"D-Dean?" Sam choked out, his heart pounding like a jackhammer.
"Yeah," his brother managed a smile, "You okay?"
Sam bit his lip and nodded, noticing a crowd was gathering.
"Is he alright?" "Should someone get security?" "What happened?"
Dean ignored the questions as he murmured to Sam, "Think you can stand?"
Sam nodded and used the railing in front of the wolf habitat to steady himself as he stood. Dean kept a hand wrapped around Sam's upper-arm, helping his brother to his feet.
"I think we'll call it a day," Dean murmured quietly, "What do you say, Sam?"
"Y-Yeah," the young man agreed, trying to avoid the stares of the other zoo patrons.
"Hey! Back off! There's nothing to see here!" Dean snarled as he escorted Sam away from the wolf exhibit.
The walk back to the zoo parking lot seemed to take only seconds for Sam. He kept his gaze locked on his feet as Dean expertly guided him through the throngs of people.
Once he was in the familiar comfort of the Impala, Sam felt his eyes well up with tears.
Dean climbed into the driver's seat and put the key in the ignition, noticing the wet streaks on his brother's face when the dashboard lights came on.
"Sam, hey, Sammy, what's wrong?" Dean asked, "Are you okay?"
"I'm… I'm sorry… I ruined your day," Sam whispered pathetically. Dean had been trying so hard to give them a regular day away from all the crap that had been going on and Sam had managed to fuck it up. Like everything else.
"No," Dean said sternly, almost sounding angrily, "You didn't ruin anything, Sam. Why would you think that?"
"I s-saw A-Adam… and Hell… Hellhounds," Sam confessed and wrapped his arms around his middle again.
Dean turned off the car and leaned towards his brother, "That's not your fault. I don't blame you for that."
Sam sucked in a shaky breath; he needed to calm down and stop crying like a baby.
Dean didn't say anything else but simply started the car and drove them back to Jody's place.
Sam sniffed, trying to calm down. He hadn't really seen any Hellhounds and he hadn't really seen Adam. He knew that. Both were figments of his imagination. Both were the product of his damaged brain.
They arrived back at the Sheriff's house in what seemed like no time- minutes- even though the zoo was all the way across the city from Jody's neighbourhood. At first Dean didn't get out of the car, he just let the Impala run, idling in the glow of the light above the garage.
"Did you really see Adam?" Dean asked suddenly, quietly and Sam nodded.
Dean opened his mouth as though he wanted to say something more but then closed it again and cut the engine, climbing out of the car.
Sam hesitated before following Dean, hunching his shoulders as he walked behind his brother.
As soon as they stepped inside they felt welcome. Even though the sun was still hovering on the horizon- its rays now violet instead of red- light filled the rooms and the smell of meatloaf filled the air.
Dean smiled and shrugged off his leather coat, the episode at the zoo completely forgotten. Sam moved much slower. Although it was warm in the house he didn't want to take off his jacket or boots.
"Hey, Sammy," Dean voice startled him, "You coming inside or what?"
At the sound of his older brother's voice, Jody stepped out from the kitchen, a dishcloth in her hands.
"Hi boys," she smiled. She looked completely relaxed and at ease. Why wouldn't she? This was her house and she was healthy in all of mind, body and spirit.
The Sheriff was wearing an old, faded pair of jeans and a blue SDSU t-shirt with a picture of a yellow jackrabbit on the front. Her dark brown hair was laying combed and loose over her shoulders.
"Hey Jody," Dean replied, his voice sounding distracted, he was watching Sam intently.
Sam withered under his brother's scrutiny even though it was only one of concern. He just wanted to curl into a ball and block out the outside world for a little while.
"How was the zoo?" the Sheriff asked, her tone no longer so carefree, she was picking up on Dean's mood.
"Sam," Dean pressed, "How was the zoo?"
Sam glared at his brother. Why didn't Dean say how the zoo was? Why did he have to tell Jody how he'd flipped out- like he knew he would- and everyone stared at him like he was a freak.
"I-It was fine," Sam answered quietly, trying to smile.
"Yeah! We saw snakes and bears and zebras and giraffes! The place has really changed since we were there last time!" Dean picked up the line of conversation, talking like an excited little boy, and Sam relaxed again.
Sam's brother and Jody walked into the kitchen and Sam himself slid down the wall until he was sitting. Sucking in a shaky breath, Sam put his head in his hands, feeling strung-out and exhausted at the same time.
"Sam? Sammy? You okay?" Dean's voice and footsteps coming closer and closer meant nothing to Sam. He just wanted to be left alone.
"Sammy," He felt Dean put a hand on his arm and try and pry it away from his face.
"C'mon Sam," Dean cajoled, "Get up."
Dean sighed and released Sam's arm but didn't go away. Instead, he sat down right beside his brother.
"Talk to me," Dean said gently, "What's up?"
Sam shook his head but other than that motion he did not reply.
"I'm not mad at you, if that's what you think," Dean told him, "I kind of expected something to happen today."
"C-Can you leave me a-alone for a little bit?" Sam murmured quietly, not wanting to hear his brother try and make things better.
"No way," Dean retorted, "You're going to come and eat dinner with us."
"Mmmm not hungry," Sam whispered, hands fisting in his hair almost painfully.
Sam could almost see his brother giving him an incredulous look, "Yes you are."
"We are not having this argument again today," Dean replied. Now he was starting to sound annoyed, "You have to eat, Sam."
Sam didn't respond.
"If you don't get up now and come to the table," Dean told him, his tone serious, "I will bring a plate out here and feed you myself. I'll even make those stupid airplane noises with the spoon like you're a baby again. Do you want that?"
Sam just wanted Dean to leave him by himself for a little while. Was that so goddamn difficult to understand?
He felt Dean brush against him as he stood, "Okay, Sam. I guess you made your decision…"
The younger man peeked up and watched his brother return to the kitchen.
Sighing, Sam stood and followed Dean.
The small table was practically piled with food- meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, rolls- that it disappeared beneath its burden. Jody sat at one end of the small, square table and smiled at Sam.
"I just don't want you taking Dr. Plummer's meds on an empty stomach," Dean said as he picked up a plate and began scooping potatoes onto it.
Sam sat down heavily in a chair and watched Dean. His brother practically downed the potatoes in gravy and had moved onto carrots.
"Dean…" Sam called his brother's name.
Dean ignored him.
"Dean… don't…." Sam tried again when his brother cut off a large slice of meatloaf and set it on the plate.
"Here," his brother put the plate in front of him and Sam stared down at the food.
The canned tomato soup Jody had used to top off the loaf was half-congealed and some of it was sliding down from the meat and onto the plate, looking far too much like blood for Sam's taste.
Dean and Jody filled their own plates but Sam had yet to take a bite of his meal.
"Sam," Dean said, looking over his brother's untouched plate, "You're not getting dessert until that plate's clean."
Sam knew his brother was trying to be funny, lighten the mood, but he didn't feel like smiling. Picking up his fork, Sam stirred the mashed potatoes into the gravy lazily, trying not to look at the meatloaf.
"Dean!" Sam exclaimed in exasperation when his brother stabbed his own fork into the potatoes and scooped them up, brining the utensil towards him.
"I told you Sam," the older brother reminded and Sam shoved Dean's fork away from his face.
"I don't feel good, Dean," Sam snapped, "Don't you get it? I don't want to eat!"
Dean paused, still holding the fork aloft.
"Damn it, Sam," he growled and dropped the utensil, "That's all you had to say! How was I supposed to know you were just being moody?"
Dean stood, grabbed Sam's plate and dumped the food into the trashcan, murmuring an apology to Jody as he did so.
Placing the dirty plate into the sink, Dean turned to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of vanilla Ensure.
"Here," Dean nearly slammed the bottle down in front of Sam, " Drink this then."
Dean rubbed his hands down his face and sighed tiredly.
"I shouldn't have done that," he lamented to Jody as she washed up the dinner dishes, "I shouldn't have gotten mad at him like that."
The Sheriff gave him a sympathetic look, "You were just worried about him."
Dean shook his head and grabbed a plate, began drying it with a dish towel, "I told myself I wouldn't do that kind of shit anymore. Sam's already got enough crap to deal with without me acting like an asshole."
Dean couldn't help but think back to that day- what seemed like ages ago- when Sam had refused to eat a grilled cheese sandwich so he had dumped it into the garbage. It had been right before the call from the funeral parlour in Sioux Falls. That disastrous lunch had nearly been forgotten in the wake of all that had happened to the brothers since their trip to see Bobby laid to rest.
"Sam knows you're just trying to help him," Jody told Dean.
The young man shook his head, "I don't know how much longer I can keep doing this… It feels like I'm at the end of my rope here…"
If Dean was being truly honest with himself this felt just as useless an endeavour as everything else. Sam wasn't getting better.
What am I going to do? Dean thought frantically, what if Sam never gets over this?
I am such a hypocrite, he thought; and not for the first time. I tell Sam that everything is going to turn out for the best but all I do is prepare for the worst.
"Dean?" Jody's voice brought him out of his dark musings.
"Huh?" he muttered, blinking stupidly at the Sheriff.
"Why don't I finish these? Go on upstairs and check on Sam," Jody demanded in a way that sounded like a suggestion.
"Okay… yeah, I should see how he's feeling," Dean replied and set the dish towel on the counter.
Even though it was still early, far too early for any healthy Winchester to go to sleep, Sam had retreated upstairs after dinner, taking his half-finished bottle of Ensure with him.
Dean climbed slowly up the staircase, hoping that his brother was resting and wasn't being troubled by hallucinations. Walking as quietly as possible down the hall, Dean stopped in front of the guest bedroom where Sam would be. He listened carefully for a long minute but heard nothing. Taking hold of the doorknob, Dean opened the door slightly. The lights were off and he could just make out the form of his brother beneath the duvet.
Smiling sadly, Dean entered the room, trying to be as quiet as possible so he wouldn't wake Sam. He stepped up to the bed and saw that his brother was indeed sleeping, curled in on his side with his hands fisted against his chest. The bottle of Ensure was on the nightstand and when Dean picked it up, he found it empty.
"Good job, Sammy," Dean whispered and left the room as silently as he had entered it, taking the bottle with him.
Dean startled awake late that night, eyes wide as he stared around his darkened room.
Something had woken him up but what was it?
Out of habit he reached underneath his pillow and grabbed the knife he had hidden there. Yeah, he was in Jody's house and not some skuzzy motel room but Dean couldn't help but feel the need to keep a weapon at the ready.
Sitting up, Dean surveyed his room. He saw nothing out of the ordinary. Still holding onto the knife, Dean crept to the door and opened it, peering down the hall.
Is Sammy okay?
Hurrying down to his brother's room, Dean opened the door quickly.
Sam was standing in the middle of the room. Something was definitely wrong.
"Sammy?" Dean called his brother's name softly and stepped into the room, "Sam… What's the matter, buddy?"
Sam, facing away from Dean, didn't react; it was as though he had not heard his brother.
"Sammy!" Dean said sharply, approaching his brother.
Swallowing down the fear that had seemed to rise up his throat at the sight of Sam, Dean reached out and touched his brother's shoulder.
Muscles tense beneath Dean's fingers, Sam still did not react to his brother's presence.
"Hey! Sammy!" Dean shook his brother's shoulder, "What's wrong?"
Stepping around his unresponsive sibling, Dean's brow furrowed as he looked into Sam's face.
There was nothing there.
"You bas-" Dean began but his insult was cut off when Sam hit him in the jaw.
Dean refused to back down.
"Why now?" he asked Soulless Sam, "Why here?"
Dean couldn't believe it. The last time Sam's alter ego had made an appearance they had been back in Hoxie, fighting a couple of Leviathans.
"I thought it was about time I paid another visit," Soulless Sam commented nonchalantly, as if he were an old friend popping in to say 'hi'.
Dean didn't like the smile on the guy's face- smug- as he took in the room, "So you went with the woman."
Dean didn't even bother asking the asshole how he knew they were at Jody's place.
"Fuck you," he growled, "What do you want?"
The smile widened, "Sammy's not happy with you right now. Seems you treated him like a child earlier tonight."
Dean's eyes narrowed.
"Since when have you cared about Sam's feelings?" he spat.
Soulless Sam shrugged, "You're right. I don't. I'm here to finish what I started."
Without warning, he lunged at Dean, raising his hands to wrap them around his brother's throat.
Dean raised his own hands in a defensive position, blocking Soulless Sam's grab for his neck. Not wanting to hurt his brother, Dean caught sight of an opening and hit Sam in the solar plexus.
Doubling over in pain, Sam gasped and whimpered. Dean wasn't about to let his guard down. He did not go to his brother's aid.
"D'n," Sam choked out, "W-Why…"
"Nice try," Dean said," But I know you're not the real deal."
Sam looked up and Dean almost believed the hurt expression on his brother's face. Almost. With a snarl of fury, Soulless Sam rushed at Dean, murder in his eyes. The eldest Winchester caught sight of the door open as Jody burst into the room, "Sam! Is everything-"
"Get out of here!" Dean shouted as Soulless Sam hit him in a football tackle, dragging them both to the floor.
Jody seemed rooted to the spot, her eyes wide in shock.
Dean tried to entangle himself from the fray but gasped in pain when Soulless Sam grabbed his hair and slammed his head face-first into the floor.
"Sam! What are you doing! Dean! DEAN!" Jody shouted, too stunned to do anything else.
Still holding onto the knife from under his pillow, Dean twisted as much as he could and stabbed the blade into Soulless Sam's upper arm.
The younger man gave a cry that was half-anger half-pain and smashed Dean's face against the hardwood floor again.
He's going to kill me, Dean thought, he's going to beat me to death and there's nothing I can do to stop him.
Struggling in vain to escape from Soulless Sam, Dean didn't even notice when Jody rushed towards them, moving silently, a grim expression on her face. Suddenly, Sam's eyes rolled up into his head and he collapsed, his weight landing on top of Dean.
Shoving at his unconscious brother, Dean stared wide-eyed at the Sheriff, a stun-gun clutched in one pale hand.
"I didn't know what else to do," she said breathlessly.
"Thanks for that," Dean said and ran a shaky hand through his short hair.
"Are you hurt?" Jody asked and Dean shook his head, "I'm fine."
His nose hurt like hell but he was pretty sure it wasn't broken. He might have a few bruises in the morning but nothing he couldn't handle.
"What was all that?" Jody asked as she looked down at Sam's prone form.
"That was Mr. Hyde," Dean tried to joke.
"He's had a hate on for me ever since I helped Sam get his soul back," Dean explained, "This is the first time he's showed himself in a while, so he probably won't grace us with his presence again anytime soon."
Crouching down, Dean quickly checked his brother's pulse- it was steady and calm- before brushing Sam's bangs from his brow.
"Do you have a First-Aid kit handy?" he asked, looking up at the Sheriff.
"Uh… yeah," Jody answered, "It's under the bathroom cabinet."
Dean turned back to his brother as Jody left the room to get the kit.
"Sorry about that Sammy," Dean apologized to his unconscious brother, "You'll forgive me, won't you?"
Dean pulled the sleeve of Sam's t-shirt up to examine the cut he'd given him. It was deep- it would need stitches- but it was only an inch long.
He glanced up when Jody returned, the white First-Aid kit clutched in her hands.
"Will he be alright?" she asked, concerned.
Dean nodded and took the kit from her, flipping up the clasps. He found some alcohol wipes and quickly tore a package open, swabbing the cut liberally with it.
"How often has this happened?" Jody asked as Dean took out a needle and thread.
Dean shrugged, "Uh… two or three times…"
Jody just nodded as she watched Dean expertly sew up the knife wound. She put her hands in the sleeves of her fluffy pink bathrobe.
"You don't have to stay here, you know," Dean muttered, "I've got a handle on things. Go back to bed."
Jody didn't move. She watched as Dean wrapped fresh gauze around the wound on Sam's arm and secured it with a strip of medical tape. When he bent down and grabbed Sam under the armpits, the Sheriff moved forward.
"Let me help you," she took hold of Sam's calves and helped Dean lift him up and onto the bed.
"Thanks," Dean mumbled as he pulled the duvet up to his brother's chin, tucking him in like he was a child again.
Jody nodded, brushed a hand through her frizzy, sleep-mussed hair and gathered up the First-Aid kit from where it sat on the floor.
"Well… uh, I'll see you in the morning," Jody said, somewhat awkward and quickly left the room.
Dean brushed Sam's bangs off his forehead and sighed.
His brother was going to wonder what had happened and Dean didn't think he could keep dodging Sam's questions much longer.
Dean settled himself down on the edge of Sam's bed, frowning.
He spent the rest of the night trying to figure out what he was going to tell his brother in the morning.
Sam woke up groggy and sore; Dean could see lines of pain and fatigue clearly on his brother's face in the dim light shining through the blinds over the window. Dean was ready for that, though and offered his still-sleepy brother a glass of water and and Tylenol.
Sam took the cup and pill from Dean gratefully.
"Dean… what happened to my arm?" Sam touched the bandaged tentatively, his expression quickly turning to one of worry.
Dean couldn't think of a way to ease his brother into the knowledge of Soulless Sam's late-night appearance so he just spilled it out like so much verbal diarrhea.
As his brother listened his face grew more and more drawn, his expression becoming more and more panicked.
"But it's okay, Sammy, I've got a-" Dean tried to calm his brother but Sam was beyond consolation.
"How is it okay?! I'm dangerous like that! I could have killed you or Jody!" Sam exclaimed, his face flushed.
"Sam, you have to relax! I had it under control!" Dean said, knowing full-well he had a large purple bruise on his jaw and cheekbone from the fight the night before.
Sam didn't look like he believe him and Dean couldn't help but think of the first time Soulless Sam had made his reappearance, startling Dean in the motel room with a gun to his head. The only thing that had save Dean from being ventilated was a seizure.
"Why is this happening?" Sam asked desperately, expecting Dean to have an answer.
"I don't know Sammy," Dean said truthfully, "I think it has something to do with Cas breaking down Death's wall."
Sam looked close to tears and Dean didn't know what to do. He reached out to grip his brother's wrist comfortingly but Sam pulled away, wrapping his arms around his middle.
"M-Maybe he was r-right… Maybe… Maybe I s-should die," Sam whispered quietly, despondently.
"No Sammy," Dean replied, just as softly, "Don't you say that. Don't believe that."
Sam lowered his head but Dean reached out and lifted his chin so he could see his brother's eyes.
"I told you I would fix this, Sam," Dean said determinedly, "And come hell or high water I will."
Sam gave a slight smile at that and Dean could see that his brother wanted so badly to believe he was right but he could also see Sam struggling.
Sighing, Dean released his brother's head but took hold of his shoulders, pulling Sam forward and crushing him to his chest in a hug.
Carding his fingers through his brother's long hair, Dean murmured.
"Just give me some time, Sammy, big brother will make everything better."
"Jody! JODY!" the Sheriff came running at the sound of Dean's frantic calls.
Rushing into the living room, Jody only hesitated a second at the sight of Dean hovering worriedly over his brother while Sam squeezed himself into a corner, terror etched into his youthful features.
"What happened?" she asked as she entered the room, noticing the television was on and what looked like some medical soap opera- probably Dr. Sexy- was playing.
"He's just freaking out," Dean answered, a pleading look in his eyes.
"Okay," Jody sighed out the word and tightened her ponytail as though she were about to go into battle.
Stepping forward cautiously, making herself as small as possible, she began speaking to Sam- coos and nonsense words a mother might murmur to a frightened or ill child- as she approached.
"It's alright," the Sheriff said softly, "You're safe, Sam. I'm not going to hurt you."
Jody tried to smile in a non-threatening manner but inside she was saddened to see tears dampen the young man's cheeks.
"Careful-" Dean warned, clearly unsure if his brother would attack. Jody didn't think Sam would, he hadn't done so before; he was too terrified to fight back.
"I've got it, Dean," Jody smiled up at the older brother and he backed up, giving them more space.
Slowly Jody reached out and touched Sam's arm- she could feel him shaking- and patted it comfortingly, "What's wrong, Sweetheart?"
Sam opened his mouth and a squeak came out. He closed his eyes and buried his head against his arms. Taking a chance, Jody tightened her grip on Sam's arm and pulled him forward slowly. Whatever Sam was seeing, he wasn't going to fight it and he allowed Jody to bring him to her chest, letting out a terrified sob as she wrapped her arms around his back.
"Shhh," Jody cooed and began rocking them both back and forth- something she used to do with her own little boy whenever he had a nightmare- as though nothing in the world existed but the two of them.
"Shhh, honey," she murmured. Sam was still upset- Jody could feel his breath hitching- but he was beginning to calm down.
"That's it," Jody coached, "Deep breaths… you're fine… everything's okay."
She looked up at Dean and smiled, glad that she was able to help. Dean just looked relieved.
Five minutes later, Jody held Sam at arm's length. The young man wiped at his face with the sleeve of his shirt and sighed tiredly, not even embarrassed that he'd been crying in front of the Sheriff.
"How about I make some hot cocoa?" she asked the brothers. Jody always used to make her son hot cocoa if he was upset.
"That'd be nice," Dean said and hunkered down on the floor with his brother as Jody stood, heading into the kitchen.
Once her back was turned, the Sheriff frowned.
Don't start acting like they are replacements for you son, especially Sam. They are grown men and yes, they might have their share of troubles but you cannot be their mother.
Grabbing the can of cocoa from the cupboard, Jody doled the powder out into three mugs, the silverware clinking against the ceramic as her hand moved jerkily in her agitation.
She set a pot of milk on the burner to warm up and leaned against the counter, rubbing her eyes with the fingers of one hand. When she looked up again, Dean was standing in the doorway, arms crossed over his chest as he studied her.
"Are you okay?" he asked, one eyebrow raised above curious hazel eyes.
Jody smiled, "Yeah… Yeah, I'm great. How's Sam?"
"Still shaken up… but he always is for a little while after…" Dean shook his head.
"How long do you think you'll stay here? I mean, how long until Sam doesn't need me anymore?" Jody asked, kicking herself for sounding like she wanted to give the Winchesters the bum's rush.
Dean shrugged, "Once he has a firm grip on reality… steps away from the ledge for good, I guess."
"What if you go back to Whitefish and Sam hallucinates again? What if he can't tell its really you?" Jody asked, seriously.
"We'll come back here, if that's okay with you," Dean said, peering over his shoulder, checking on his brother.
Jody nodded and turned to stir the pot of milk, silently letting Dean know he could go back to Sam.
Jody brought the mugs out on an old TV tray. She had found a box of Oreo cookies in the pantry and put some on a plate, thinking the brother's might like something to munch on while they drank their cocoa.
Sam and Dean were sitting on the couch- the younger brother leaning into the older one almost unconsciously for comfort- and Jody smiled at the sight, glad that things seemed to be alright for the moment.
Jody set the TV tray down on the coffee table and took a seat in one of the chairs across from the couch. Dean leaned forward and grabbed a mug, handing it to Sam before taking one for himself. Jody took her cocoa last and felt herself relax as she cupped her hands around the warm ceramic.
"I know its not really a summer drink," Jody said somewhat apologetically, "But my grandmother always used to make it for me when I came over to her house, no matter what season it was. I ended up making it for Owen whenever he wasn't feeling well..."
"This is great," Dean spoke up, saving Jody from becoming awkward.
Sam didn't say anything. He just sipped at the hot beverage, still shaken from whatever hallucination he'd been trapped in only minutes ago.
The trio passed the time in relative silence. Jody didn't mind though. She wasn't quite sure what to say.
She was glad that she had helped Sam and hoped that she would be able to do so again. It was true. Her presence- her voice, her face, whatever- seemed to break through Sam's fear and ground him in the here and now.
The Sheriff felt guilty that that power wasn't within Dean though. She had seen first-hand how hard he tried to calm his brother and get Sam to look at him without fear in his eyes only to fail.
Dean had told her about Lucifer, how the fallen angel had used his lioness to torture Sam and it saddened her that the one person the young man should have trust above all others made him tremble in fear.
She shouldn't be able to do this. This was Dean's job. She had her chance with her Owen.
Jody took a large swallow of cocoa and told herself to stop thinking about such things.
She chuckled when she noticed Dean was twisting apart and Oreo cookie and dunking it into his cocoa before eating it. He didn't look so much like a hunter when he did that, but a little boy.
Although Jody couldn't be with the Winchesters all the time- the city of Sioux Falls needed her to orchestrate the arrest of drunks and speeders, break-up the occasional domestic disturbance- she did her best to help Sam whenever she was.
A week went by and Dean noticed the change in his brother. Sam still had hallucinations, slipping into memories of Hell, but if Jody was there, they never lasted long, the Sheriff able to bring him back out again faster and faster.
This was what he'd been hoping for. Sam's grip on reality seemed to be getting stronger.
He was still concerned for his brother; Dean worried what vile lies Lucifer might be whispering to Sam, but he could handle that.
Dean made sure Sam continued to take the pills Dr. Plummer prescribed. He wanted to see if they would help, especially once they finally left Sioux Falls and returned to Whitefish. Sam didn't complain or argue, which Dean was thankful for, and took the meds when Dean gave them to him. Dean wished his brother would trust him when he told Sam that no way was he going to abandon him in a mental hospital or- God forbid- put him out of his misery like some sick animal.
Yes, Dean may have thought about doing those things but only as very, very last resorts. Hell, even if things went sideways and Sam didn't get better or got worse, Dean wouldn't even consider those as options. He would take care of his brother as long as he could. No matter what.
Dean hugged his brother, one hand wrapped around Sam's shoulders, the other carding through his hair, as he checked the time on the alarm clock sitting on the nightstand. It was just after three in the morning. Sam had woken up screaming- literally screaming- and had Dean running down the hall in a panic. Jody had been called in for an emergency at the station so it was just Sam and Dean at the house.
"It was just a nightmare, Sammy," Dean told his brother as Sam clutched at his shirt, fists tugging at Dean's shirt in an effort to bring his brother closer to himself, "You're okay."
"Deeeann," Sam moaned and the older brother inclined his head.
"I'm right here, Sammy," he whispered, "I'm here."
At least he's not frightened of me, Dean thought as he crushed his brother tighter to his chest because Sam just couldn't get close enough to him.
Dean sighed and closed his eyes briefly. He was exhausted but he wasn't going to sleep if Sam needed him. Instead, he started humming the lyrics to one of his favourite Metallica songs 'Enter Sandman' as though it was a lullaby in the hope that it would further calm Sam down.
Dean woke up with Sam still cradled in his arms, his younger brother's cheek resting agains his shoulder. Blinking, Dean checked the time and saw that it was seven-thirty. Sitting up straighter to stretch the muscles in his back, Dean froze when Sam began to stir.
"D-Dean?" the younger man murmured, his eyes at half-mast.
"Hey," Dean smiled at the sight of his brother's puffy face.
"Why are we here?" Sam asked sleepily and Dean chuckled, "You had a nightmare and I guess we both were lulled to sleep by my beautiful voice."
Sam scowled and pulled away from Dean, shaking his head slightly.
Dean frowned when he saw his brother starting to get up, "Hey there! What's the rush? It's still early. I'll get up, you go back to sleep."
"Don't wanna sleep," Sam mumbled and stood, running a hand through his messy hair.
Dean almost smirked because Sam sounded just like a little boy again who wanted to stay up past his scheduled bedtime.
"Fine," he acquiesced, "I'll make us some French toast for breakfast."
Hoping that Sam's lack of appetite would have him reconsider going back to bed, Dean was surprised when Sam simply muttered, "kay" and grabbed some clothes from his duffle bag and shuffled out into the hallway.
Dean smiled widely.
He's getting better!
Dean left Sam to get his morning ritual over with and headed downstairs, signing Three Dog Night's 'Joy to the World' quite loudly.
He was just about ready to put the toast into the skillet when Sam walked into the kitchen, "I hope you're hungry."
Sam nodded hesitantly.
"I didn't think you liked French toast… or knew how to make it," he commented, watching his older brother.
Dean smirked, "There's a lot of things about me you don't know."
Sam chuckled slightly and sat down at the table, fiddling with a butter knife Dean and already placed.
The older Winchester tried to ignore his brother's fidgeting and simply be grateful that Sam seemed to have his appetite back.
The bread sizzled deliciously when Dean put it in the hot skillet and although it was true he didn't really like French Toast all that much- he was more a bacon and eggs man- he was looking forward to breakfast.
When the food was cooked, Dean shoved a plate in front of his brother, "Eat hearty, lad."
Sam rolled his eyes at Dean's bad attempt at an English accent and reached for the maple syrup.
Dean would have liked to see Sam eat more- a half a piece of French toast was all his brother managed- but at least he was eating real food. Dean hoped that he wouldn't have to go back to plying Sam with bottles of Ensure and Gatorade.
Setting the dirty dishes in the sink, Dean made his way to the living room and turned on the television. Sam sat down across from him on the couch and smiled when Dean stopped on a cooking channel.
"Ah, so this is where your newfound love of French toast comes from," Sam joked and although Dean glared, he smiled inwardly.
"Jody was watching it and wouldn't let me change it to UFC," Dean pleaded and Sam just shrugged, "Whatever you say, Julia Child."
"Actually, I think I'm more like Wolfgang Puck," Dean replied nonchalantly.
Dean looked at Sam from the corner of his eye. His brother was asleep, chin resting on his chest and his arms wrapped loosely around his middle.
Dean smiled, he'd known Sam was still tired. Sam was always tired these days. He just never seemed to get enough sleep anymore.
Grabbing the TV remote, Dean turned the television off and sat quietly, just listening to the sound of his brother breathing.
Dean smirked when he caught sight of a string of drool hanging from his brother's slightly open mouth and took his phone from the pocket of his jeans. He could not pass up this opportunity.
Taking a couple of picture, Dean revealed at the sense of normalcy the prank gave him. It had been a long, long time since he'd been able to joke around with his brother. It felt good to be able to relax for a little bit and not worry so incessantly like Dean usually did.
Sam, almost as though he knew what Dean was doing, turned so that he faced away from him and raised one hand to swipe at his chin.
Dean chuckled and put his phone away, not wanting to be caught in the act. Deciding to save his brother from further embarrassment, Dean reached over and shook Sam's shoulder.
"Hey," he called, "You wanna go upstairs?"
Sam grunted and opened his eyes, wiped at his damp chin and looked at Dean.
"The bed in the guest room would be more comfortable then the couch, you know."
"Oh… uh… sure," Sam mumbled and stood, still groggy from sleep. Dean smiled as he watched Sam slowly make his way towards the staircase, certain that Sam would be asleep again even before his head hit the pillow.
"I was wondering if Jody was home," the Sheriff's elderly neighbour said as she stood on the porch, peered myopically up at Sam.
"She's in town right now, ma'am," Sam told her, trying not to appear nervous.
He should never have opened the door. He should have waited for Dean to get out of the shower. But the old woman was nothing if not persistent and it sounded like she was leaning on the doorbell- the merry chime giving Sam a headache- until the door was answered.
"Oh, that's a shame," the woman- Gladys, Sam recalled- lamented.
The young man wished she would say she'd come back later and go away.
"Maybe I could come in and wait for her to come back," Gladys suggested.
Sam didn't know what to do. Maybe he should just close the door. It wasn't as if the woman would have far to walk to go back to her house; it was right next door.
"She'll be gone for a few hours yet," he told her, "I can tell her you came by, though."
"Would you be a dear," Gladys simpered, "What a nice young man."
Sam smiled weakly and closed the door. Turning his back, he slid down and drew his knees up to his chin. He jumped when the doorbell rang again, insistently. Scrambling up, he peered through the peephole and saw the old woman was still standing there.
Deciding to ignore her, Sam stepped away from the door.
He cried out when the door was ripped off its hinges. Gladys still stood there smiling but as Sam watched her mouth widened until it became impossibly large, full of yellow teeth and a snake-like tongue.
"D-Dean!" Sam stumbled backwards, nearly tripping over his own feet.
The Leviathan stepped inside, grinning sardonically.
"I'm going to enjoy eating you alive," the monster hissed and lunged forwards.
"DEAN! DEAN!" Sam shouted and ran into the kitchen, throwing open the cupboard underneath the sink, tossing bottles aside in an attempt to find the Borax.
Where was his brother?
Gladys stepped into the doorway of the kitchen and chuckled.
"Time's up, Winchester," she cackled and jumped towards Sam with hideous speed.
Sam cried out and dove to the side, sliding across the linoleum and slamming into the wall. The monster's teeth buried into the cupboard doors and she roared with rage.
"DEAN! I NEED HELP!" Sam cried and scrabbled away from Gladys, trying to get out of the kitchen.
Breathlessly, Sam ran from the room, frantically searching for a sign of his brother. He paused to try and catch his breath, gather his bearings when he was grabbed from behind. The Leviathan's hand knotted itself in the hair at the back of his head and pulled him backwards.
"Got'cha," the monster smiled and sank its teeth deep into Sam's shoulder.
The pain was excruciating; Sam couldn't even cry out. All that he managed was a gasp.
Gladys reared back her head, mouth dripping with blood and released her hold on Sam.
He dropped like a stone, landing on his injured shoulder.
"I know Roman wanted you for himself," she said, licking her lips with her serpentine tongue, "But I'm sure he'll forgive me a moment of indulgence."
"D-Dean," Sam tried to call his brother's name through gritted teeth, clutching at his mangled shoulder.
On his hands and knees, Sam tried to get away from the monster, only to be splayed out with Gladys' shoe pressing down on the small of his back.
"Where do you think you're going, Winchester?" the Leviathan asked, "I'm still hungry."
Dragging Sam up again by his hair, Gladys pulled him back into the kitchen, a trail of blood smeared across the floor in their wake. The Leviathan deposited Sam in front of the refrigerator, sitting him up against the appliance.
The monster peered down at him for a moment as if considering what to do. Sam raised his hand from his shoulder, his palm stained red.
"You know," Gladys said, "I don't know why Roman finds you so threatening. You're just a sad, pathetic little man."
Sam was barely listening to her. He could feel blood running down his arm with every beat of his heart.
"Where's Dean?" Sam asked through gritted teeth.
"Your brother?" the Leviathan asked, feigning ignorance.
"Yes! Where is he?" Sam snapped and the monster hit him across the face. Sam's head snapped back and struck the refrigerator with a dull clunk.
Smiling, Gladys opened the freezer door. Sam titled his head up, almost wishing he didn't when a wave of nausea passed through him strong enough to even cut through his pain.
Closing his eyes for a long moment, they flew open again when Gladys kicked him in the gut.
"I had a little appetizer," the Leviathan smirked and held up what she had taken out of the freezer.
"Dean!" Sam cried and pressed his back hard against the fridge, staring in horror at his brother's head dangling from the Leviathan's fist.
Gladys cackled, throwing her head back, her mouth widening as she did so.
Sam closed his eyes, trembling with fear and pain, waiting for the killing bite…
…"Sammy! C'mon man, wake up!"
Dean's voice rocketed Sam out of the nightmare. He thrashed, tangled in the bedsheets, and cried out his brother's name, his voice full of anguish,
Sam felt strong, steady hands grab his arms and pull him up.
"It's okay," Dean murmured soothingly, and Sam blinked at his brother- alive and well- in shock.
"That must have been one hell of a nightmare," Dean said and Sam collapsed in his brother's arms, the horrible dream still clinging to him like cobwebs.
"Nuh-Not Hell," Sam whispered, grabbing his brother's shirt and holding on, seeking comfort and reassurance.
"What?" Dean asked, clearly confused.
"It… wasn't about… Hell…" Sam managed to get out and shuddered, burying his face against his brother's chest like a little kid.
Dean held Sam out at arm's length, his hazel eyes pinched, "What was it about?"
Sam's eyes filled with water and he sniffed, "L-Leviathan…"
To Sam's surprise, Dean actually laughed.
Thinking that his brother was laughing at him, Sam pulled away from Dean and glared at him, hurt by the reaction.
"You didn't have a nightmare about Hell!" Dean exclaimed, "That's great!"
Sam blinked, not understanding why Dean was so happy about a bad dream.
"You're having normal dreams!" Dean extrapolated, "Well… normal for us but still… When was the last time you had a dream about something other than the Cage?"
Sam thought and realized it had been a long, long time since he'd dreamt of anything other than Lucifer and Hell.
"Doesn't seem like much of an improvement," he muttered bitterly.
Dean just smiled, his hazel eyes crinkling at the sides. He tugged on Sam's shoulders and pulled him closer. Sam rested his chin on Dean's shoulder as his brother wrapped his arms around his middle.
Another week passed. Dean continued to keep a close eye on his brother, continued to have Sam take the medication Dr. Plummer had prescribed. Why hadn't he done this sooner?
Dean was beginning to think about their eventually return to Montana. He knew they couldn't stay with Jody forever. But he wanted to be sure that Sam was better before leaving.
That was the thing. Dean was afraid of leaving too soon. He wanted to give Sam as much time as he needed to shake this.
Of course, it was always in the back of his mind that once they left Sioux Falls, Sam's hallucinations could come back tenfold.
But if that happened, well, Dean would suck it up and deal with it. He would help his brother get through anything that came their way.
But they would cross that bridge when they got to it.
For now, Dean was just happy that his brother was continuing to recover.
Dean smiled as he watched Sam eat a large helping of the Shepherd's Pie Jody had made for dinner. Used to Dean's observations by now, Sam ignored him as he scooped up some mashed potatoes on his fork.
"Your food's getting cold, Dean," Jody commented nonchalantly and the eldest Winchester blinked, then stared down at his own plate.
From the corner of his eye, Dean caught sight of his brother smirking.
Dean yawned and blinked up at the ceiling. It was morning. Bright sunlight slanted through the blinds of his window.
Dean sat up and smiled. He's stayed in his room the entire night.
Standing up and making his way to the door, Dean silently praised his brother's progress.
Walking down the hallway, Dean peeked into Sam's room and his smile widened.
Sam was laying splayed out on his back, one arm covering his eyes while the other rested on his chest. He looked extremely relaxed and comfortable.
Closing the door, Dean made his way down to the kitchen to find Jody sitting at the table, coffee cup in hand.
"What happened?" she asked, taking in the eldest Winchester's pleased expression.
"Sam slept the whole night through," Dean said as he poured himself some coffee, "Did have a nightmare as far as I could tell."
Jody nodded and sighed.
"What?" Dean asked, concerned, "Did he?"
"Oh, no," Jody replied quickly, "I didn't hear him calling out in the night or anything… that's fine… It's just…"
Dean raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
"I just mean, I'm going to miss you two," Jody explained, sheepishly.
Dean was surprised to feel tears prick at the corners of his eyes.
"We won't be gone forever," Dean answered and smiled, "You know where we'll be."
Jody nodded and smiled back.
Dean knew he'd miss the Sheriff as well but he knew that Sam would be much happier back at Rufus' old cabin. It was the closest thing they'd had to home in a long time and Dean felt a longing to return.
Sam packed his duffel bag slowly, methodically. They had been at Jody's for a month now and Dean felt confident that they could leave. Sam had felt better than he had in a long time. He still had the odd nightmare but he wasn't seeing Lucifer at all now. He still remembered- vividly- his time in the Cage but he was able to push the memories away easier, they no longer consumed him. There was a new lightness to his heart and to his step. Sam wasn't so afraid anymore. He had his appetite back and he was gaining the weight he'd lost.
Dean, likewise, had changed. His face wasn't so haggard anymore. His eyes no longer pinched in concern every time he looked at Sam. His smiles and jokes were more genuine. He was returning to his usual loud, boisterous self and Sam loved to see that. He'd hated having Dean worry over him constantly. It made him feel like a failure.
Sam raised his left hand, palm up, close to his face and stared for a long moment at the scar. The wound had healed. It seemed a symbol for Sam's own healing. All it had taken was time.
"Time heals all wounds," Sam muttered to himself.
At one time, Sam would never have believed it. He guessed it was true though.
Shaking his head, Sam knew Dean would roll his eyes at his philosophical musings.
Returning his attention to his packing, Sam didn't notice when a figure slipped into his room, watching him curiously.
The figure did not exert a malignant feeling, instead, it was quite benevolent. The figure smiled sadly, as Sam zipped up his duffel, glanced around the room once more and then turned around.
Sam's brow furrowed and for a fleeting moment the figure thought that the young man could see him. Instead, the youngest Winchester shrugged and smiled to himself, his dimples showing.
The figure watched as the hunter brushed past him and headed down the hallway. The figure wanted to follow, wanted to see Dean but hesitated. This was enough. Knowing that Sam Winchester was alright, was enough for him.
The figure sighed silently and slipped out of the room, disappearing from the house as he did so.
"Dean? You ready?" Sam asked, looking into his brother's room.
"Almost," he answered and glanced at his brother, "That was quick."
Sam shrugged, "I didn't move in like you did."
Dean smirked as he grabbed handfuls of his clothes from the dresser drawers.
The irony was not lost on the younger brother. Dean was more used to living out of his duffel bag than he was but Sam had been much too preoccupied with hallucinations to unpack his single piece of luggage.
Sam sat down on Dean's unmade bed as he waited for his brother to finish stuffing his clothes into his duffel.
The younger mans's shoulders slumped and Dean quickly picked up on the gesture.
"What's wrong?" Dean asked immediately.
"Jody's not here," Sam answered. The Sheriff had to go into work so she'd miss the brothers' leaving.
"She's a big girl," Dean commented, "She knew we were leaving this week."
Sam nodded, "I just wanted to thank her."
Dean snorted, "You thanked her ten times yesterday. I think you were starting to embarrass her."
Sam glared at his brother.
"She has my number," Dean told his brother, "She can call us anytime she likes."
"Yeah," Sam answered, still downhearted.
"Sammy," Dean laid a hand on his brother's shoulder, "Don't get all dewey-eyed on me."
The younger man smiled and shook his head. Dean smirked and slung his duffel over his shoulder.
"Ready to go back home?"
Sam sat up a little straighter in his seat as Dean pulled the Impala down the tree-lined road that led to the cabin. The drive had been long but Sam didn't mind. He was glad to be back in Whitefish.
Dean had blared his classic rock unabashedly the entire time but Sam didn't roll his eyes or plead with his brother to turn the volume down.
Nothing could ruin his mood.
The cabin looked exactly as they had left it. The grass was in need of a trimming and a colony of hornets had started making a nest in the overhang above the door but the place looked the same as ever.
Dean exited the car first, heading to the trunk to get their luggage.
"Hey, Sammy," he tapped the passenger window with his knuckles, concern darkening his hazel eyes, "You okay?"
Sam nodded and opened his door.
"Home sweet home, eh?" Dean said, grinning like a kid. Sam was glad that his brother was happy to be back as well.
"Yeah," Sam agreed. Standing up, Sam used one hand to shade his eyes as he glanced up at the clear blue sky. Everything seemed to take on a new brilliance and clarity. The grass seemed greener, the wind brisker, the sounds of birds and crickets was louder.
I'm free, Sam thought, really free.
He smiled to himself. He might not completely forget what had happened to him in Hell but he had beaten it, he wouldn't let it control him anymore. Lucifer was finally silenced.
"C'mon Sam!" Dean shouted, already inside the cabin, the door hanging open invitingly.
Grinning, Sam followed his brother's voice, closing the door as he went, feeling as though he was opening a new door- opening a new chapter in his life- no matter how cheesy it sounded.
"Hey," Dean turned to his brother, "Feels good to be back, doesn't it?"
Sam nodded. Yes it did.
1. Chapter title comes from an Oasis song of the same name.
2. Thanks to DianaLadris802, rozzy07, L.A.H.H, mandancie, SPN Mum, BranchSuper, TeamEtharaRules, and AlxM for reviewing.
3. Thanks to everyone who has alerted, favourited, and/or followed this story.
4. Please leave some final thoughts. I'd love to hear from you! I hoped you've enjoyed reading this fanfic (and its prequel) as much as I've enjoyed writing them! I have a companion one-shot to these fanfics in the works featuring Cas. Its going to be called 'The Angel and the Gambler' so keep your eyes out for it ladies and gents!