The Things that Change Us


Kara McLeod
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

This is my second 'After Swan Song' story but I was annoying myself by writing Dean and Sam how I had always known them. After what they had been through, of course there were going to be some changes in them. So I challenged myself to embrace that and write it.

Let's see how I go. Wish me luck! I love these boys exactly how they are/were.

Thanks for reading!

Chapter 1


I should just walk up the path and knock on the door. He is my brother and he would want to know I am okay and…out of there. But how could I? Watching him through the window sitting around a table with his new family tucking into a home cooked meal and even smiling every now and then just held me back. I needed him. I did, but that was me being selfish and if there was one thing Dean didn't need, it was his kid brother being selfish once again. So I stood there like an idiot confused and even a little disorientated.

Being back on terra firma felt strange. It shouldn't have but it did and I wondered if Dean had felt the same way back when he returned from…the place. I never noticed, never even thought to ask him – until now.

I looked at him again. He was talking to Lisa and then to Ben. Maybe they would be listening to him more than I ever had. Maybe they were the ones that were making him smile. They were, let's face it. They were. And I wondered when the last time it was that I had made him smile.

When we were kids, it used to be all the time. I would catch him giving me that proud smile of his if I won a contest or hit the top two per cent in my class. It was like I was the smartest person in the world. Even if it was just shooting a gun and hitting the bullseye, if I did it right, I would get that smile and I would smile back.

But something along the way changed in me more than him I think. Looking back it was me that lost my sense of fun, or my belief that my brother could be happy around me. Stuff was going down all around us all of the time, I knew that. There wasn't much reason to smile but for a long time there, Dean had kept on trying. Making his stupid, dumbass jokes that used to make me laugh, or using his priceless sarcasm to tell the enemy exactly where to go…I used to be so in awe of how he could do that, but then as time went on and things got more intense, I felt my own eyes roll and heard my own irritated sighs.

I wish I hadn't been like that to him.

He didn't deserve it. He never deserved it.

He also never deserved what he had been through, the life he had to live, the responsibility he had to take on and the burden he had to carry. I regretted so much. I wanted so bad to fix it. I wanted to be the one to make him smile again…but that would mean interfering with the one thing that was already doing that; his new family.

Sure, it wasn't fair on him to not know I was back and alive, but it wasn't fair on him to be stripped of the one thing that could make him genuinely happy as well.

I had to walk away, for his benefit.


I was hoping Lisa and Ben were buying my smiles. Truth was, they were great people, really great people and I had tried to be a great person back to them but it wasn't working. I mean I was going through all the motions and doing all the right things like getting a job, taking the kid to games, going on date nights with Lisa and taking care of the house, but it wasn't real, none of it was real. The only thing that was real was that my brother was dead or burning or being tortured or something such as horrific, and if anyone - anyone could think I could carry on happily knowing that, they were completely delusional and needed help.

Speaking of help, Sam needed help, yet here I was eating a roast and telling Ben stupid jokes that weren't even funny. He was laughing and I was smiling but it was all just stupid crap. Nothing was funny anymore, nothing meant anything anymore and all I wanted to do was stand up and walk out of there.

Sammy had tried; I had to give him that. His heart had been in the right place wanting normal for me – and it was something I thought I had wanted too when things were at what I thought was the toughest. I almost kicked myself for talking to him about it, laying that on him. He shouldn't have known that was how I was feeling…he had obviously felt like I would rather be living the life of a family man rather than living my life with him.

That was not the case. If I had my choice, I would gladly check into a shady motel with a bottle of whiskey, no cash and my brother. In fact I craved it. I needed it. Yet still I sat here and all I did, all I could do was wish for it. Nothing more but wish for it. And why? Because Sammy had made me promise. It was a nice promise, yet a crazy promise…but it was a dying promise… my last promise.

I felt my eyes begin to water as I smiled once again. God, I used to think things were bad when we were trying to save the world. How I did not get it. At least I had my brother by my side. At least he was alive and safe and with me. Now. Now he was…

'You okay?' Lisa asked me as she placed yet another supportive hand on my shoulder. She was one amazing girl and I felt really bad that she had taken on a grieving man that wouldn't do her the favor of leaving.

When I looked up at her I felt just how much my eyes were watering. I rushed to look back down and picked up my glass of cold beer.

Ben waited for me to reply. So I smiled because I couldn't talk and nodded when I took a sip. That was all I could manage but it was all they were used to anyway so they didn't press me and I didn't give them any more. They knew not to bring up my brother. I had never told them not to, but they knew and I was grateful for that.

I closed my eyes when another image burnt into my brain. Sam was suffering and I was eating. Sam was suffering and I was drinking. Sam was suffering and I was smiling.

Sam was suffering and so was I.


I turned to walk away, doing a last head check as I did. I silently told him another goodbye even though I knew I would be back there the very next night. I felt like a stalker, this was ridiculous. Here I was stalking my own brother because I couldn't do anything else. I don't know if I was hoping to see a chink in his armor or what. I mean Dean had a knack of covering up what he was really feeling and maybe I was just waiting to see if there were any cracks I could find that I could dive into.

But that was what I was hoping for myself rather than for him and in a way I had hoped it was wishful thinking on my part. If he was happy then I would be too, but I had to admit it, I was more than a little lost without him. I used to be stronger than this I knew it. I was always walking around thinking I could take on anything and handle it myself. Truth was, now, I didn't know what I was doing and I didn't know where to start. All I knew was that I wanted my brother with me because I hadn't had him for what seemed like forever and I would bet my life on it that he would know what to do…

And this time, I would be ready to listen and really hear him. I would do anything he said.

So I checked back into the other creepy motel in town and sat on the old squeaky bed in the dark. I felt more comfortable in the dark nowadays. That was such a flip; when I was a kid, the dark was the one thing I was most afraid of.

'You haven't made contact.' Castiel said as he appeared in front of me. I didn't look up at him, there was no point, he was stating the obvious and I knew what was coming, because it came every damn night since I had been back. 'You really need to make contact Sam.'

I didn't ask why anymore because I already knew. They wanted us to keep on doing their dirty work, it was that simple. Heaven and …that place had gotten themselves all screwed up and now, more than ever those scary, heartless sons of bitches were traipsing around the land. Well, sure, that sucked big ones, but really, as if I was going to pull Dean back into that God forsaken world without thinking it through, and I sure as –

I sure wasn't going to do it alone.

'He would want to know you are back.'

Was this a pep talk? Because I wasn't buying it and I didn't know how he could think saying the same things every single day would bring a different result.

'Twelve people have been killed since you have been back.'

That was unfortunate, it was, but my question – every single night – was why Cas and angels like him didn't save those people. The answer was always the same. He still couldn't pin down any angels and even though he was out saving who he could, he had bigger fish to fry – he was trying to restore heaven.


This night though, after a few minutes of silence he said something different, something I had never heard him say before. 'Sam, if you don't tell him, I will.'

My head snapped up. 'Don't you friggin dare.'

'It has been two weeks.'

'Is that a long time is it?'

'It's too long in the job you are in.'

'Were in. Go find some other hunters.'

'There's no one like you and Dean. You and Dean know more than anyone else.'

'Lucky us.'

'So it has to be you.'

I wanted to tell him never to say that to me but it was too late, he already had, and I was out of energy. All I wanted to do was go to bed so I could not sleep. Just lie down and wonder what the hell I was going to do with this second – or was it third – or fourth chance I had been given because I really did not know.


It was three-thirty in the morning when I pulled out my phone from my jeans pocket and sat down on the front stairs with my bottle. I felt sorry for Bobby, especially when I would call him at these ungodly hours on unpredictable nights, but he always answered and never told me to stop, so I always kept on calling him.

'Hey.' I greeted as he answered and I took another swig.

'Struggling?' He asked me as I heard him sit up.

'What else is new?'

'Why don't you come and stay with me for a couple of days? Get some different scenery?'

'Because that scenery isn't different. It will just make it worse.' I already knew that because I had already considered it. Just the thought of stepping into that house brought more tears to my eyes. It was the closest thing Sam and I had had to a home and we had been through so much there, especially Sammy.

'Okay, so why don't I come out to you?'

'You can do that. Anytime. You know that.'

'I think I should. Where's the closest motel?'

'You can stay here, with us.'

'You know as well as I do how much of a bad idea that is. Where's the closest motel?'

'When are you coming?'

'First thing.'

'I'll call them in the morning and book you in. There are two. One on the main road and one just around the corner. I'll call you when I check their vacancies and have the details.'

'Okay. I guess I will see you tomorrow then.'

'Thanks Bobby.'

'You're welcome and son, as for tonight, try to get some sleep okay?'

'Okay.' I said knowing that was not a possibility. What was a possibility was this bottle getting emptied ..and now.


I skipped on work but I didn't tell Lisa. She didn't need to know and would only freak out thinking there was something even more worrying about me. All I wanted to do was see Bobby and spend the day with him, whether it be in his motel room or at the local bar – or showing him around town. Wherever and whatever. I had never needed him as much as I had then.

The Store Manager had seemed a little pissed that I wasn't turning up to work even though I knew I sounded damn convincing on the phone. For once I didn't need to fake it. I could use my real voice and sound as sick as I felt. He didn't seem to care how I was sounding though, he didn't care about anything except making money and I wondered how my life had come to this. From saving the world for everyone else to saving a dollar for someone else. No way could I ever be more unsatisfied.

Instead of calling the motels, I decided to go myself and check them out. It was hard, but also comforting for some reason. I didn't know why but I felt pulled towards them both. Maybe it was because they felt like some sort of usual for me or maybe because they felt like some sort of connection to Sam. I hadn't done many things like I used to do with him since...he had been gone, so stepping into reception areas of old and worn motels brought a little bit of normalcy back.

First motel I checked had vacancies. Good. I told them I may be back and drove over to the other one around the corner. That one had vacancies as well but only two. After doing a quick check I decided this one was probably worse than the first but nevertheless, for some reason I wasn't sure of, I booked him in, paying for three nights for one room with Lisa's real credit card.

After calling Bobby with the address and room number, I sat down on the overly soft bed and looked out the window. This felt like home more than the house I was living in and I found myself feeling guilty for even letting that thought enter my head. This place was old and crummy and crappy yet I felt more comfortable here than with the woman I thought was the one in a nice house with all the creature comforts. There was something definitely wrong with that and it wasn't fair on her.

So I knew, without a doubt, that I had to leave her and soon; as soon as I could muster the nerve to do it. As soon as I could take being alone; alone with only my thoughts to haunt me, all day, every day...

...okay so maybe it wasn't going to be so soon.

(to be continued)

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