I was so pissed with myself. Ever since I had been back – even since before I had been back – when I thought it was only a measly possibility I would get out of there – the one thing I planned if and when I reunited with Dean was to be all kinds of happy fun for him.
But no, I couldn't even do that. Instead I did what I always somehow managed to do and get him all worked up and worried about me. I wasn't stupid; I could see it in his eyes. I saw it as the lines in his forehead surfaced and the creases in his face deepened. I wondered if this had been the first time he had worn this expression since I had left him. Probably. It was probably only me that did this to him.
All he wanted to do was go to a mall for God's sake; to buy clothes for me. That was nice, he was being nice and I had thanked him by almost having a freaking panic attack. It wasn't that I didn't want to go; well actually it was. The thought of all those people either rushing past or stopping in front of me kinda made it harder to breathe. There were always so many people at the mall, at any mall, all the time.
The bar I could have probably dealt with – if it wasn't too busy – or loud – or smoky – or hot. No, probably not the bar either and Dean had seen that in me before I had time to even work out how to fake it. Uggh! I wanted to kick myself. This wasn't what I wanted. Not at all.
So now, here I was sitting in my room opposite my brother while Bobby and Cas had driven off in the impala to go and buy some new clothes and groceries and more toiletries for me. Like I was three years old…and I had let them. In fact, I had been happy and relieved about it.
What was wrong with me?
Having Dean looking at me asking himself the very same question made me feel sick.
'I got your stuff back at my – back at Lisa's place. I'll bring it all over.' He said to me when I was finally able to make eye contact with him.
'Thanks.' God, how could I pep myself up? This was crazy. This was all I had wanted and now that I had it, all I could feel was freaked. Okay I had to force myself. I had to say something. 'How is it going over there anyway? You look like you've settled in okay.'
Oh my God, did I seriously just say that?
All I could do was watch his face contort. 'Huh? How would you know that?'
'Umm…Like I said, I went over there but I didn't come in. I just saw you through the window.'
He nodded understanding but then asked; 'How many times?'
Again, this wasn't going how I wanted it to.
I shrugged. I could only shrug.
'Sam, how many times?'
I wasn't sure if he wanted to know so he could yell at me for spying on him and his family or so he could be even more worried about me. Either way, both ways sucked and I wished I could have lied to him to make the two of us feel better. One thing I knew for sure though was that I was never going to lie to him about something important again, that was a damn fact. Not ever.
'Nearly every night.' I admitted.
'Dude,' he sighed sadly, 'You really should have come in.'
I had to handle this with care. I needed so badly to know what had happened to him 'downstairs' but I knew not to ask that question just yet. The kid was obviously still so traumatized and even though I was the one person who could get it; above and beyond anyone else, his experience was probably a lot different to mine.
Especially seeing as though he was locked in a cage with the most evil son of a bitch of all time.
I couldn't assume anything and I didn't assume anything. I wouldn't do him the injustice of that. I just had to help him.
Whatever it took.
My usual reaction would have been to kick his ass if I learnt that he was standing out the front of the house alone while I was inside agonizing over him, but I couldn't blame him and deep down I knew he was doing it for me and not for himself. He wasn't to know he had it all wrong. He, being Sam, thought he was doing the right thing, he thought he was putting my happiness above his own.
At least there was something left of him intact. At least the devil hadn't ripped that from the inside of him out. And at least he was out of there and free. That was the main thing. He was out of that horrifying and malicious place and back with us. Safe.
The rest would come; I would make sure of that.
'So I'm gonna take another day off tomorrow and you and me are going to go for a drive. Just the two of us – or Bobby too if you want.' I told him.
'You don't have to do that.'
'I know. I want to. It's not every day you get your brother back.' …from hell. Steve at work would just have to understand and deal with that and if he didn't, tough. Bad luck for Steve.
'Where do you work anyway?' He asked me.
'Walmart.' I smiled which caused him to smile too. As if that wasn't the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard. So ridiculous we laughed and I tried not to think about how long it had been since we had both laughed together.
'What do you do there?'
'Unpack boxes and deal with customers can you believe it? God, we thought ghosts and monsters were bad…'
Okay so that was a dumbass thing to say. I expected his face to drop but instead he laughed again. Only this time it wasn't a real laugh, it was definitely a put on laugh. The kid was trying, I had to give him that but he should know by now that he couldn't fool me. I could see when he was faking it. Regardless though, I let it go and sat back in my seat.
The hideous clock on the wall caught my eye and I realized I would usually be pulling up in the driveway around this time. Lisa would be cooking dinner and Ben would be in his room doing his homework or watching TV. It was always the same thing – apart from date nights. Date nights were different. I would get home on a date night, shower quickly, get dressed up and drive Lisa and I to one of our favorite restaurants in town where I could pretend for a minute, maybe two that my past wasn't actually my reality. That I was just a normal everyday guy living a normal everyday life with his normal everyday girl.
Date night was tomorrow night. Date nights were one of our better nights. I would usually look forward to date nights.
Date night wasn't going to happen this week.
'You have to go home?' Sam asked.
'Dean. It's five-thirty. You always get home at this time.'
'Not tonight Sammy.' As if I was going to leave him here alone on the first night I had gotten him back. There was no way. No frickin way.
'Then at least call her.'
My phone was still in Bobby's room. In my mad rush over here I had left it sitting on the table. I could call her. I should call her. 'I'll be five minutes okay?'
'Yeah. Take your time.' He smiled at me.
When he stepped out of the room, I felt even more alone than I had the night before. That was just selfish and pathetic. Dean was going to make a call to his girlfriend so he could stay here with me and here I was feeling jealous and abandoned. What the freaking hell? I stood up to shake out that ludicrous feeling and paced around the room.
I stopped at the mirror that hung crooked on the murky wall and for the first time really took in my reflection. Wow. No wonder Dean and Bobby and even Cas were so eager to get me some supplies. I honestly looked like a big lump of crap.
I was so in need of a haircut, but then again that would mean someone touching my head and standing over me and next to me and all around me. Maybe Bobby could do it. I could handle Bobby doing it.
God, talk about being desperate for a shave as well. It hadn't felt all that long ago that I had taken a razor to my face but in all likelihood it was probably more than four days ago. And my teeth; I was usually so pedantic about brushing my teeth but now I could feel the roughness when I ran my tongue over them. I couldn't even remember the last time I had picked up a toothbrush. To make matters worse, I had lost weight too. My dirty t-shirt was hanging all over me while my jeans were hanging off me and my eyes were showing all the signs of my inability to sleep.
To put it simply, I was a crazy mass of mess and I had chosen now to reveal my arrival back on earth to my brother? Before I picked myself up and fixed all this? What was I thinking? I couldn't believe it. I just kept staring at myself not being able to believe it. Dean had looked so great when he arrived back, just like normal while I looked like death warmed up. Worse even.
And they wanted me to go out like this? I was kicking myself for even gracing the general store with my disgusting presence every day. They must have dreaded my arrival, the poor people. No wonder they never made small talk with me or never smiled, no wonder I always got speedy service; they wanted me out of there as quickly as humanly possible. At the time I didn't realize because I didn't care, but now, now I understood completely. It was because I was a repulsive, filthy animal.
'All good.' Dean smiled at me as he re-entered the room holding his phone.
I forced myself to sound cheerful. 'Great. What time do you have to be home?'
'Friday?' I knew my days had been all whacked out but I was kind of pretty sure it was Wednesday today.
'Yeah I told her Bobby was in town and I was staying with him for a couple of nights.'
'She's fine Sammy. I'll just go and get some things when the guys bring back the impala and I'm all yours.'
'Isn't she wondering why you have to stay with Bobby?'
He shrugged. 'Nah. We don't have any room for him there and she knows how much I need-.' He stopped himself before he continued. 'She's cool. It's okay.'
'So I'll take the couch and –'
'I'll take the couch.' I offered. He was leaving a comfortable house and a comfortable bed so he could stay with me - for me - so he should have the bed, not the lumpy, old couch.
'You're taking the bed. I'm taking the couch.'
'I don't mind.'
'Either do I. You are taking the couch.'
That was an order, I knew that tone, and so I nodded and sat down, resting my elbow on the table. 'Okay.'
'Dude, you alright?' He asked me out of nowhere.
I ran a hand through my hair and tried so hard to make myself sound strong when I answered a convincing yeah. Thing was though I didn't even get the word out. Thing was, instead of saying anything, some more tears fell from my eyes.
All I could do was stand behind him and massage his shoulders for a bit while he cried and I fought back tears of my own.
I didn't know where this had come from but it didn't surprise me. I just hated thinking he had been going through anything like this alone while I had been only minutes away. But at least I was with him now. That was something.
He was trying so hard to stop his sobbing. It was so sad to watch him hitching and then trying to pull himself together and then failing and breaking down all over again. I grabbed a chair from the dining table and sat down next to him. In silence.
I cast my mind back. What had I wanted and needed when I had first gotten back? Everything was just happening all around me, what with demon central around the block and Cas making his grand entrance and legendary announcement. As soon as I had found Sam I was basically on the job again. Maybe that helped a bit, maybe it got my mind off a little of it.
Who was I kidding? The torturous memories from hell couldn't be dulled. There was no taking your mind off it. It was always there, in you, forever.
I hated that my brother had to suffer that same affliction. I hated it more than I hated anything, more than I hated being in hell itself.
'I'm sorry Sammy.' I said as I pulled his hand away from covering his face. 'I shouldn't have let you go there. I'm so sorry.'
He shook his head to argue but he was still unable to talk. I felt a few tears fall from my own eyes as I flung an arm around his shoulder. 'It's okay. Just breathe, okay?'
He nodded and he tried, but it was too fast and I worried he would start hyperventilating. 'Slowly. Sam, slow it down.' Luckily he was listening to me. 'Deep breaths.'
I had seen one of Ben's friend's mothers try to calm her son by saying the exact same words at a barbeque we had been to only a month ago. He had tripped on the wet cement and smashed his head on the side of the pool. He was okay injury-wise but he had completely freaked out at the sight of his own blood gushing from his wound. I had helped fix the gash but the poor kid was so upset that even after half an hour later he was still not coping too well.
His mother sat there with him though through it all and never gave up. Just sat there calmly. I remember admiring how calm she was actually. Lisa was like that too with Ben. She loved him more than anything but an aura of strength would envelope her the second anything threatened her boy, as if she could take on anything. She didn't often lose all rationality like I had been known to do.
I had to be the same for Sam; calm and strong...and rational.
Even though I was completely losing it on the inside.
'Sorry.' He said to me once he could manage to speak again. He stood up, stepped away from me, wiped his tears and shook his arms. 'I didn't want to do this.'
He couldn't look at me; instead he turned his attention to the window. 'Be like this.'
'Be like what?' I said as smoothly and evenly as I could.
'Like this.' He said again.
'Look at me Sammy.'
When he didn't, I said the same thing again but a little firmer. That got him turning around and when he looked into my eyes, I spoke.
'You be who you are. That's all I want.'
And instead of calming him, I had singlehandedly set him off again.
(to be continued…)