I'm back! Woohoo! Thanks for the reviews that got me back into the swing of things (especially MysteryMadchen) I don't have much to say, so onward!


"Sam!" Dean called habitually as he entered his and Sam's small bedroom. "Food." He said when he caught Sam's eye. He gestured by pretending to spoon something into his mouth and then rubbed his stomach and nodded his head exaggeratedly.

Sam rolled his eyes at the charade and looked back down at his book.

Dean waved his arm. Sam looked back up. "Food!" He repeated the action again. He saw recognition in Sam's eyes, but Sam shook his head minutely and looked back down. Dean sighed in defeat. Again.

Two weeks since they got sprung from the hospital and yet Sam refused to talk, and still sometimes refused to even write on the little whiteboard. Despite Dean's attempts to communicate, Sam would turn to reading or staring blankly out the window if it meant not being reminded of his new handicap. Part of Sam's checkups involved an appointment speaking with a child therapist, during which he said not a single word.

When Dad went out of town for 'supplies' and Dean had errands to run Sam was feeling too bad to come along for, Dean didn't know how to communicate with him.

But everything seemed to fit right into place the time Sam tried to order pizza with anchovies.

He picked up the phone and had half dialed the numbers when it hit him for the fiftieth time that this was a habit that he needed to break. He wouldn't hear the ringing, let alone the guy picking up.

What if it wasn't just a Domino's two for one special? What if it was Dean, injured and in need of help? Or Bobby or Ellen or Jo? He was useless.

And with a sudden intensity, Sam ripped the phone out of the wall and threw at the door, watching it crack into pieces like his heart as he sank to the floor.

He knew he was crying. Felt the wetness and the hitch of his chest as he sucked in a breath. Recognized the water on his hand when he furiously wiped the tears away.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and opened his eyes to see Dean looking at him with sad eyes, saying things that seemed important, but Sam had no clue.

He reached up to touch Dean's neck and feel the vibrations again but Dean slapped his hand away. Sam recoiled in shock.

When he looked back up Dean was pulling the whiteboard from under a pile of dirty laundry, casually sweeping the phone pieces away like nothing happened.

No more crying, Dean wrote. It's over.

Sam just glared.

No bitchfaces either, Dean added. We're going to go get some books and stuff and learn sign language. Together.

Sam nodded slightly.

Anything to say? Dean squeezed on the bottom.

Sam nodded again, unfolding his legs and reaching for the board.

With your words, Dean wrote.

Sam closed his eyes and in slurred, tone deaf English, he spoke.

"That's permanent marker, bitch."

He laughed, and Dean had never heard a sweeter sound.

BROKEN RIDGE, 2007

Sam did indeed have his lock pick set with him, and Dean made quick work of the door. Luckily, Broken Ridge was a small town, and lacked a more technological security system.

"We're in." Dean whispered. He opened the door and Bobby and Sam followed him in.

"Bobby, do you know where we'd find the masks?" Dean asked.

"In the archives, I'd guess."

"How long do we have until the place opens up?"

Bobby thought. "Probably about an hour."

Dean nodded at Sam. "Good enough."

The archives were easy to find. The case had been considered closed, even though for the Winchesters the case was as open as ever.

"I'll keep watch, in case someone comes in early." Bobby said, taking up a position by the door.

Dean nodded, following his brother into the room.

"Do you know where to look?" Dean asked.

By year. Sam signed. And then by name.

Dean nodded. "So..."

1995. Sam turned and started looking through the cabinets for the right date.

"Over here!" Dean called from across the room. He looked over and Sam was still tracing his finger across the dates.

"Damn." Dean muttered. He walked over and tapped Sam on the shoulder. Sam jumped and turned.

"Found it." Dean said. But the second the words left his mouth he was being thrown backwards into the wall.

BROKEN RIDGE, 1995

"Okay." Dean sat on the bed cross-legged facing his brother. He took a pack of flashcards out of his jacket.

From the therapist, he wrote. They'll help you learn.

Dean's fingers tapped on the flashcard box as Sam thought about it. Finally, Sam smiled and nodded.

"Sweet!" Dean beamed. "Let's get started!"

**********

Lucky for Dean, Sam was a fast learner. An hour and a half of practicing with the flashcards and he could already figure out some short sentences.

Dean was having a little bit of a harder time, but being able to talk well with Sam again was the best incentive there was.

The sound of John's truck rumbling perked Dean up.

Dad. Food. Home. Dean managed to sign. Sam nodded, following his brother to the door to greet their dad.

Dean opened the door and stepped out of the way so John could set the bags down.

"How's he doing?" He asked Dean when Sam wasn't looking.

"Why don't you ask him?" Dean smiled.

John turned to Sam, who— being the nerd he was— already had returned to flipping through the flashcards.

He waved and got Sam's attention. "How are you?" He annunciated.

Sam's eyes darted quickly to Dean, who nodded.

Not bad. Sam signed slowly. At the look of excitement on John's face (though he had no clue what Sam was telling him) Sam grinned widely. Hello, Dad. He continued. Hello, Dean. Hello. Sam stood and handed the cards to his father.

"Flashcards?" John asked. Dean nodded.

"Got 'em from the therapist."

"Awesome!" He said. Sam beamed.

Dean watched the exchange. "Yeah, he's getting pretty good at lip reading, too."

It wasn't until a few days later when Sam felt he was ready to go out.

Lunch? Dean signed around eleven.

Sam nodded. Out.

"Out?"

Another nod.

Lunch out?

Yes.

Sammy, yes?

They spoke broken caveman English when they spoke sign language but it was enough to keep Sam wanting more, filled with hope and more conversation than Dean had seen him since before the cabin.

"Dad!" Dean called. "Sam wants to go out to lunch! What's around here?"

John had jumped up at the shout for Dad but relaxed when he saw his boys sitting leisurely on the carpet by the couch.

"Out to lunch?" He said.

Sam nodded.

"In the rain?"

Sam nodded.

"Yeah... Okay... Um, well, there's a nice place called Dennisburg's just a few blocks away."

Sam watched plans being made, trying to read lips and failing pretty miserably.

He grabbed his flashcards as he walked out the door, set on practicing more than ever.

BROKEN RIDGE, 2007

"Dean!" Sam called as his brother was thrown into the wall. He raised his gun, shooting at a figure to his left.

"I can fight back now." He said out loud. "I will fight back!" He shot a load of rock salt into the figure of Phantom to his left and ran over to the filing cabinet.

He leaned the gun on his shoulder and pulled out the bag, emptying the masks onto the floor right as the gun was yanked out of his hand.

Dean still laid unconscious on the ground, so Sam stepped in front of him protectively as he sprinkled the salt on the masks.

He nudged his brother with his foot as he worked. "De-eoof." Sam's call ended in a grunt as he was unceremoniously slammed into a wall.

He shook his head and while he was waiting for the world to stop spinning, he watched lazily as three spirits walked towards him.

"No..." He mumbled. "NO!" With three loud bangs, the Recurrants disappeared, leaving only Dean Winchester standing with a smoking shotgun in his hand.

"You okay, little brother?" He asked. Sam nodded and reached his hand out for a help up.

Dean pulled him to his feet. "Let's finish this." Sam pulled out his lighter and dropped it on the masks, watching the ski mask light up instantly.

The surgeon's mask followed fairly quickly, as well.

Dean looked from the slowly heating Phantom mask to his brother, only for his gaze to travel past the man.

Sam watched Dean's eyes widen, his mouth opening in an O as he shouted "No!" at whatever stood behind Sam. With one final hurrah, the Phantom sent Sam flying into the corner of a cabinet as he sizzled and flamed into nonexistence, following his melted mask into oblivion.

BROKEN RIDGE, 1995

The small family ran through the rain and entered Dennisburg's. John tried to pick a booth in the back, but there was no avoiding theSunday crowd in the busy diner.

"A booth in the back by a window, please." John asked per Sam's request.

Dean slid in by the window and Sam say next to him, until their shoulders were almost touching.

"Hey, my name is Sandria and I'll be serving you today. What can I start you off with?"

"I'll have a water." John said.

"A coke for me and a water for my brother." Dean made eye contact with Sam, who nodded an agreement.

Thunder cracked and Dean watched the drizzle turn to downpour.

Another bolt of lightning flashed, catching Sam's attention as well.

Dean looked down at his brother's sharp intake of breath. He touched Sam's shoulder and felt it flinch under his touch.

"You okay?" Dean asked.

Sam nodded. Another crack of thunder caused most of the customers to jump or look out the window at the downpour.

The lights flickered. Demon? Sam spelled out. Early on in learning, Sam and Dean had agreed that any word they hadn't learned yet would be spelt out with the alphabet. It was a slow-going form of communication but it worked nonetheless.

"No," Dean shook his head. "No demons, just weather."

Sam nodded, but his eyes darted in all directions, watching the exit and the lightning flash through the windows.

Another bolt and the light flickered, this time plunging the dinner guests into darkness.

There was a hushed silence for a few moments before the lights flickered back on and the diner collectively sighed with relief. All except a young teen and his father in a booth in the back by a window.

"Sam?" Dean sat frozen, staring at the concave in the leather of the booth where Sam had been sitting only a minute ago. "Sam!"


Exciting, right? We're getting close, people! Any advice or anything you want to see is always taken into consideration! Thank you guys for reading! See you soon!