Having not been able to get Inside Man or Bobby’s letter and the aftermath of everything that happened out of my head for days and days now, I decided to write this little scene about what happens right after Sam finishes reading Bobby’s letter.
Sam knew he needed sleep after staying up the better part of two days, but he couldn’t get Bobby’s letter out of his mind or keep the tears out of his eyes whenever he heard his voice in his head, the words playing over and over again. He sat at his desk, seeing nothing for a moment, until he roused himself and carefully folded the letter back up. He knew he should show it to Dean. He wanted to. He wanted to tell him everything like Bobby said he should, but he knew that Dean would be pissed. Lately, Sam was afraid to do or say anything that might set him off.
He took the letter and slid it into the middle desk drawer. He didn’t think Dean would come in here, but then … out of the corner of his eye, he noticed tape on the side of the phone going up under the receiver and discovered when he picked it up that yes, his brother had been there. He should have known better than to tell him not to come in his room.
Sam heaved a sigh, shaking his head, but at the same time, the thought that Dean was playing pranks, STILL, brought a rueful smile. Sam looked at the phone again. He almost never used it. It wasn’t an outside line. The last time he answered it, it was Dean calling from the kitchen to tell him dinner was ready, so at least this joke was pretty tame.
Sam reconsidered that thought and started looking around his room. The first thing he noticed was his pillow at the wrong end of the bed. Approaching it as though it might be booby trapped, he lifted one corner in increments, leaning down to peer under it. He frowned when he had it all the way over and found nothing. Gingerly, he picked it up and squeezed, holding it at full arms length away. Still nothing. It didn’t explode. Nothing came out. It was just a pillow.
Knowing Dean, he wouldn’t have left it at just taping the phone down, but after a thorough and somewhat destructive search of his room – he tore the bed apart looking for traps – Sam found absolutely nothing. He riffled through all the books, all the files, even his dresser drawers.
Sam paused and looked around, shoulders slumping at the mess he’d just made and he groaned at himself that the prank was fully realized by him tearing his room apart looking for the trick.
He shook his head over Dean’s ability to mess with him, but he smiled again because it felt okay. For the first time in way too many days it felt like his brother wasn’t slipping away quite so far or quite so fast after all. With that thought came the hope, the deeply held need that maybe, just maybe Sam would somehow find a cure for the Mark before it was too late. Even though this last foray into that quest hadn’t gone the way Sam wanted, he would not give up.
“Or die trying,” he mumbled under his breath as he moved to the sink and splashed some water on his face in an effort to wake up a little. Sleep dragged at his eyes, but Dean would wonder why he was so tired after supposedly going to see just a movie. A case might come up and if Sam was asleep, Dean might go off on his own. He’d sleep later, in the car if they went anywhere. He rubbed his face dry with a towel, ran his hands through his hair, and picked up his toothbrush, pulling open the cabinet above the sink for the toothpaste. He’d just smeared a line across the brush when Dean knocked and then came in, standing in the doorway. Suddenly, he was trying not to smile.
“You need anything from the store? We’re a little low on a few things,” he said, a grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. He saw the state of the room and fought harder not to smile. Sam rolled his eyes, raising the toothbrush to start the job. “Besides a new toothbrush?” Dean said, holding in a burst of laughter this time.
Sam froze, the realization striking that Dean had done some disgusting thing to his toothbrush, like he did when he was 12 that stopped him from putting the brush in his mouth at the last moment. He looked at it, but decided he didn’t want to know and hastily washed it off. He slammed it violently into the trash bin, glaring at his brother.
Dean’s eyebrows rose and a delighted smile broke across his face. That was something Sam hadn’t seen in a long time too, that playful, devilish grin that belonged to the old Dean, that Sam couldn’t help but smile back even while he shook his head. He turned so Dean wouldn’t see it, or the sudden and unexpected return of tears to his eyes. He went to his bed and started making it up again while Dean leaned against the doorframe and watched.
“The list is on the desk,” Sam said, nodding to it, but Dean walked across the room and grabbed the pillow, exaggerating the force necessary to get the case off and throwing the pillow more or less to the head of the bed. He let the pillow case fall to the floor.
Sam threw his head back, staring at the ceiling, but let his brother have the moment. He was smiling again.
Maybe now was as good a time as any.
“Hang on a minute,” he said when Dean turned to the desk to take the list. Sam sat at the end of the half made up bed and leaned on his knees a moment while Dean waited expectantly. Sam wondered where he should even start and glanced at him. “I didn’t go see a movie.”
Dean didn’t seem surprised, but the smile vanished, replaced instantly by that steady, steely-eyed gaze that made Sam feel like he was 11 again. He pushed the chair out from the desk and dropped into it. “What did you do?”
And so Sam told him. The whole thing, beginning to end, watching his brother’s reactions as closely as he could, and trying the whole time to seem like he wasn’t so concerned about what he thought. And Dean listened. He shook his head over it a couple times. He stared in awed disbelief about Bobby. He tried to hide a flash of something that Sam wanted to call pride when he heard about Metatron losing his grace and Sam unceremoniously blasting a hole in his leg. He listened to the whole story without a single word until Sam got to the end.
“Bobby’s all right then,” he said, smiling a little at the thought, but then he saw Sam’s hesitation.
“He wrote me a letter,” he said. He wanted Dean to see it but he was afraid of what he would think of it. “It’s in the desk.”
Dean stared again, but he opened the drawer and pulled the paper out, hesitating with a glance at Sam before he unfolded it and started to read. He gasped a little at the first part, rolling his eyes about it being weird, because even for them this ranked up there near the top of things that just didn’t happen to them.
Sam watched him again, fighting back tears once more, embarrassed by them and more than a little confused over why they were there. He supposed he hadn’t paused to consider the emotional impact of talking to Bobby, or how much he still missed him. It’d been years and he thought by now he’d have gotten over it, but talking to him and this last letter, his last words that meant so much, brought it home like a hammer to the head how much he was still so desperately needed. Bobby knew them. He knew everything about them. And he knew how to tell them what they didn’t want to hear.
Dean paused a couple times, lips moving as he read, almost out loud so Sam knew what part he was on, and occasionally glanced over at him; when Bobby said Dean was stubborn but would understand, when Bobby said Sam was a good man – Dean smiled and nodded at that, but Sam was staring at the floor by then, trying not to shake apart, and finally the part about the cost of it, the terrible, horrifying cost, but to keep fighting and kick it in the ass.
“So Bobby might be in trouble from all this,” Dean said quietly and folded the letter back up just as carefully as Sam had before and slid it back into the desk.
Sam tried to answer but had to clear his throat. “Yeah. He might be.”
“Well it’s Bobby,” Dean said and Sam looked up at the understanding in his voice. “He can handle anything, Sam.”
He wanted to nod to that, smile over the identical words, but the thought was so horrifying, that he’d gotten someone he loved like a father into such trouble and for very little to show for it that he couldn’t. Here again was a thing he’d have to live with, another failure, and he knew he didn’t have any choice but to swallow it down like all the other things he’d buried.
“Sammy, listen to me.”
It was the tone of voice that warned him and calling him Sammy always meant he was about to go all big brother on him. His head snapped up and saw it in Dean’s eyes; all the grief and the overpowering fear. Sam shook his head. “I’m not giving up.”
“I’m not. I won’t ever.”
“I know,” Dean said. He almost rolled his eyes and almost shook his head. He took a breath, stood, and moved over to sit beside him. “I know. And believe me, I appreciate what you’re doing Sam. I do. Bobby is right. About all of it.” He paused there and cast him a glance so that Sam would know he meant the part about him being such a good guy. Sam half-smiled at that but couldn’t quite accept it. Dean still didn’t know everything he’d done. “And it’s not that I’ve given up,” he went on and licked his lips, a sure sign that what he was about to say was difficult for him to admit, so Sam waited him out. “It’s that I have to concentrate on keeping this thing under control. I can’t think of anything else, Sam, all the time. And I know you understand what this is like, fighting off this constant sense of pure evil. But the thing is, you’re stronger than me. You always have been – no wait. Let me finish. Let me just get this out and then you have to promise me something.”
“Cain told me I’d kill you,” he said and that stopped Sam cold and Dean wouldn’t look at him, but the horror of this admission was written all over him. “He said I was living his live in reverse, and it makes sense because I can feel it happening. He said I’d kill you all. Crowley first, which yeah, isn’t something I’d cry over, like, at all and it almost came to it—” He stopped there and shook his head, and Sam got the distinct impression he wasn’t telling him something. “Then …” and his voice broke … “he said I’d kill Cas … And then you.”
“Well he’s wrong,” Sam said immediately.
“What if he isn’t?” Dean said right back and started shaking his head. He closed his eyes and Sam saw the depth of fear marring his brother’s face. It was and always would be his greatest fear; that he couldn’t save him, that he would live and Sam would die. “I haven’t give up,” he said in an even quieter voice that cracked under the strain. “I haven’t. I can’t afford to. It isn’t about giving up. It isn’t even about dying. We’re all going to die … one day. This is about … losing who I am. I mean, I’ve looked out for you my whole life, Sammy. Every day and if I …”
“He’s wrong, Dean.”
“And if he isn’t? Sam, there won’t be anything left of me. I mean nothing. I won’t have a soul anymore. I’ll be—” He stopped and wouldn’t say it, but Sam knew. “And I need you to promise me – that if it turns out there isn’t an answer, promise me you won’t get in the way – if it comes down to it – you’ll let me go. You have to. Because the thought of what could happen …”
And Sam nodded because Dean needed him to and silence blanketed the room for a long moment. He knew what Dean was afraid of, but he also knew it wasn’t possible. With every fiber of his being, he knew it. “Cain is wrong. No, you listen to me. For once in your life. There’s no way you could hurt me, or kill me, or whatever. There’s no way, Dean – because you’ve looked out for me your whole life. I mean, you had me possessed by psycho angel to keep me from dying, and I get it. I do. I don’t blame you for any of that anymore. It’s who you are. It’s who you’ve always been. There’s no changing that. I know that now, so there’s just no way that no matter what Cain says that you’d ever be able to kill me. It’s not in you. So please … Believe in that. Make that stone number one.”
Dean shook his head because he remembered saying those same words so many years ago when Sam was about to lose his mind after getting out of hell, but he couldn’t deny them either, and Sam saw the slightest smile start.
“And Dean, I’m not going to let you lose yourself … who you are. You’re my big brother. You always will be. But this one time, you have to let me look out for you.” He pulled in a breath and with it, courage to say the rest. “Besides, I’m doing it whether you like it or not.”
For a moment, in the silence that followed, Sam didn’t think Dean would accept the edict. It went against his nature to go along with it, but he finally nodded. Sam wasn’t sure if he really meant it. He was pretty hard to read most days, but Sam knew Dean just wasn’t able to step back from being the big brother, as annoying as that sometimes was. Sam understood it well enough now. His brother was, however, done with the sharing and caring.
“I figured as much.” Dean pulled in a breath, nodded, and punched Sam on the leg. “Come on. We’re going to the store.”
Sam groaned as Dean stood and headed for the door. “Man, I’ve got to sleep.”
“Sleep later. I need you come with me,” he said and then rolled his eyes to the ceiling with that admission. He was afraid to go alone, though Sam didn’t know exactly why. “And I need to tell you what really happened in the bar.”
Sam looked up at him at that. “What?”
“Rowena tried to kill me,” he said with a smirk and nodded at Sam’s gaping surprise. “Come on. I’ll tell you in the car.”
Dean grinned briefly and rolled off the door, disappearing down the hall while Sam was left to rub his face against the abject weariness that made him want to fall back on the bed and not get up again.
“It’s always something.”
He shook his head at it all, stood, grabbed his jacket and followed after his brother. He heard him, stomping up the stairs and caught up to him in the library because he stopped to answer his phone.
Dean looked at the caller id, showing it to Sam who didn’t recognize it either, and putting it on speaker, answered it.
“Dean.” The voice was garbled and broken. “It’s Charlie … I’ve found the Book of the Damned.”