I do everything I can to keep Sam thinking I'm useful to have around. It's harder than I thought it would be. Samuel has a team already set-up for him so I'm competing with Sam's own effectiveness and independence and about a dozen other highly trained adult hunters. I haven't felt like a child in a long time but I do now, always. Sam ruffles my hair in front of everyone sometimes. I know he doesn't mean to put me down, he doesn't mean anything these days, but it makes me feel smaller. I don't stop him or pull away when he does it, as small as it makes me feel, it's one of the only things I have left with Sam. The real Sam. He's the only one allowed to touch me, something they learned quickly after Christian put his hand on my shoulder once and almost lost it. They call me unhinged. I wonder what took them so long to notice.
Dean wasn't bluffing about sending me back to school. He calls Bobby in the middle of the night to let him know he's coming to pick me up and not to tell me. Bobby calls Sam to bring me back as fast as he can make it. It's the first time I see something close to a troubled expression on my brother's face since we reunited a few months ago.
"Nothing." He dismisses as he races to Bobby's. Then it dawns on me, there's no way he's going to be able to avoid Dean now. I've been wanting the secret to be out again recently, to be a family again like we used to, but now I feel panic as we draw near. Dean won't forgive me for keeping this secret. How could he? It's the worst thing I've ever done.
I close my eyes and hope with every inch of me that Dean isn't there yet when we show up, or that he's inside so Sam can drop me off and drive away. Luck isn't on my side. Dean pulls up at the same time we do and notices Sam immediately. I jump out of the car to try to defuse the situation before it escalates.
"Dean-" I begin, but he's already out of the car, gun in hand, aiming at Sam. "Dean!" I shout as he yanks me behind him. Sam gets out of the car slowly with his hands raised in the air.
"Dean, it's me. Are you going to let me prove it to you?" Sam is perfectly casual.
"It's him!" I vouch loudly, grabbing a knife from Dean's belt and tossing it at Sam. Sam uses it to cut his arm.
"Not a shifter" He announces "holy water?"
Dean lets me take his and I toss it to Sam. He drinks it without a problem. Dean finally, shakily, lowers the gun.
Dean closes the distance between them and pulls him into a hug. I back away. I can hear the questions already starting and I know where this is going. Dean's going to ask me how long I've known and why I didn't tell him. I slip into the house and find Bobby watching everything through the window.
"Cat's out of the bag." He says, not really to me.
"He's going to hate me." I sigh.
"He's not gonna hate you." Bobby's tone is so absolute that it's reassuring. "He's gonna be sour, but it'll pass." He and I watch from the window as my brothers talk for another minute before turning to come into the house. Dean's walking at a quicker pace, he's pissed.
"You knew? How long?" He demands of either me or Bobby.
"Dean-" Bobby begins
"How long?" He shouts
"Almost a year"
"A year?" He echoes in disbelief before turning his gaze to me. "You too?" He asks, the look on his face makes my stomach turn.
"We didn't let'em tell you, Dean." I'm stunned that Bobby comes to my rescue.
"Because I asked them to." Sam chimes in. "Because you were out, Dean. You had a family, you had a life."
"A life?" Dean turns on Sam. "I was out of my head with grief. The drinking, the nightmares, trying everything I could think of to spring you from the pit-"
"You promised to leave it alone." Sam interjects.
"Of course I didn't leave it alone! A year!" He turns back to me. "You knew since you got here and you didn't even give me a hint? You were there, you knew what it was like for me. For us."
I can't think of a good lie this time. "I'm sorry, Dean." I say quietly, and it's enough. He sighs and rubs a hand down his face.
"I have to - I have to go talk to Lisa."
"About what?" Sam slips his hands into his pockets. I mimic the gesture to show who's side I'm on. To show I'm not going back to Lisa's no matter what.
"About you? About - what's happening."
"Nothing's happening, Dean. I already told you, I have people. Family. You're not a part of this." His voice is considerate and kind, it almost sounds like how Sam used to be, but I've been around him long enough to know it's an act. Dean's exhausted and defeated.
"I still have to tell her." I don't know why he does, it's not like it'll change anything as much as I wish it would. Dean says his goodbyes and heads back to Lisa's. Sam leaves me at Bobby's for the night. I go to the spare room without a word and try not to think about what this is going to mean for all of us. All in all, the reunion went better than I expected and it's more than I hoped for.