A couple of days went by the motel room, barely noticed by the inhabitants. As Sam finally found himself after the trials of the punishment, his weight improved a lot: he was almost back to his normal body. His independence, though, had the most of progress to show. Now he could be left alone for longer periods of time, even for hours, but only if Dean told him if he would go away and possibly when he'll be back.
At this morning Dean was away on food and supply run. The alarm clock's radio was on, letting the songs gently float in the room. Sam was currently lying on his bed, tapping away the rhythm or humming along his favorites. He was looking around the room with interest and to practice his eyes. Last night after he came out of the shower's steam, he noticed that the haze in front of his vision thinned some and he could finally make out the outlines of his surroundings. When he told it to Dean, the man was ecstatic to hear it and told the boy that he has to leave his eyes open, as long as he can. So, Sam was now doing just that.
As a faster song finished, Sam heard the opening of the motel room's door. He sat up and felt for the radio's knob and turned the machine off, listening for any sounds. Light steps walked cautiously to the entrance of the sleeping quarter, which Sam hazily followed. Thanks to the hindrance of his sight, his hearing was a little better.
"Hello?" Sam immediately recognized the female voice. "Sam? Are you here?"
"Yes" the boy called guardedly. How did she know his name? Dean could have told her. But Sam never met her; he just heard her voice talking with Dean.
Suddenly a smaller form appeared in the doorway; Sam could see black hair and pale white skin. The girl slowly came closer to him, causing Sam to tense and push himself slightly back into the headboard.
"You don't need to be afraid of me" the girl spoke up soothingly. Sam found himself relaxing from the calming voice that wasn't as high-pitched as the boy imagined for her, judging by her form. "I'm not gonna hurt you." With that she held out one small hand to Sam, who examined it as attentively as his poor vision let him. Seeing no harm at him, he carefully took hold of her hand and shook it slightly. His brow furrowed from confusion; something stirred in his mind…
"My name is Julia" the girl said, pulling Sam out of his thoughts.
"Nice to meet you" the boy answered shyly. Julia chuckled at his timid greeting, but didn't say anything. "Please, sit down" Sam said politely and he slid away to give some place to her. Julia took a seat next to him. Sam nervously looked around, listening for any sounds that indicated Dean's arrival. His fingers played with each other, not knowing what else to do. The girl hasn't seemed to mean any threat to him, but Sam has some trouble defending himself. All of a sudden a hand on his bicep made him jump.
"You okay?" Julia asked. But before Sam could answer, his eyes widened as something clicked in his mind. A memory…
"You…" he breathed shocked.
"Me?" Julia asked confused.
"You have been here…" Sam continued and tears welled in his eyes. "You had given me water…" A soft gasp let Sam know that Julia understood what he was trying to say, so the boy leaned closer to her and wrapped his arms around her. "Thank you…" he whispered in her ear. Then he felt small, lithe, but strong arms encircle him and a hand started stroking his back.
"You're very, very welcome" Julia whispered back. After a few seconds Sam pulled away from her and wiped his eyes.
"So" he started, clearing his throat, "how come you're here?"
"Well, I just wanted to see how you're doing" Julia replied.
"I'm better, much better. Dean is helping me a lot and I can feel myself getting back to normal. And my sight improved, too."
"That's really good to hear" Julia stroked his arm encouragingly. "And how are some other things going?"
"W-what do you mean?" Sam asked a little insecurely.
"I think you know" Julia answered quietly. After a longer, slightly uncomfortable pause, though, she spoke up again:
"Okay, subject change." Sam let out a relieved sigh which made Julia giggle a bit.
"Can you tell me what happened during…" Sam swallowed hard "… that?" This topic is still a sensitive one for him, but he has to know.
"Well" Julia started with a sigh and a deep breath, "as you already know, it was me who came to you with water. But I wasn't alone. Dean came with me all the time, because he wanted to be there for you or at least see you." Sam looked at her stunned. Dean was here? "When he saw how the whole thing breaks your will down, he got a little mad and a lot scared. I'm sure you know why."
"Because he didn't want this" Sam nodded breaking out of his stupor." He wanted to lure me closer with his tenderness. But I was an idiot" he finished, bowing his head in shame.
"You panicked" Julia laid a hand on his shoulder in comfort. "You weren't the only one. He had one break down, too" she continued. "When you started begging me to set you free, I actually looked at him. Through his tears he just looked at me helplessly and shook his head. That was when I shut your mouth in the middle of your words with the tape. After that you started screaming for me and he just couldn't bear it: he ran out of the room and away. I hadn't seen him until he came back for the next drinking."
"Oh, God" Sam breathed, fighting with his tears and his closing-up throat. Julia wrapped an arm around his shoulders and started shushing him.
"But now it's over" Julia said, shaking up the broken boy a little. "You can concentrate on each other now." Sam nodded, sighing out a 'thanks' to her. "So" Julia continued with a lighter tone, "what's your opinion about Dean?"
"Um…" Sam blushed a little, but knew he could answer the 'obvious' question honestly. "At first he was a bit… I mean very… intimidating, I guess…" he was cut off by Julia's louder giggle. "What?" he asked, finding her reaction strange. Julia just shook her head and waved at him to continue. With a shrug he did just that: "But as things progressed, I found out that he can be very sweet, kind and gentle… especially when I was a mess…"
"What helped your improvement?" Julia asked carefully.
"I had an accident. One morning I woke up to his absence and I panicked. I didn't know where I was going and I tripped on a chair leg. Dean said I hit my head in the edge of the counter pretty hard." Julia's soft hiss interrupted him for a moment. "When I woke up a lot later, Dean was beside me, sleeping. Soon he woke up and completely broke down, he was so worried about me…" Sam scratched his face under his eyes, getting rid of the tears subtly.
"I can imagine" Julia commented.
"But since then everything is great" Sam smiled happily, looking at her. "And I'm getting back my confidence bit by bit, so… we're alright."
"Good" Julia said with a smile. At that moment the entrance of the motel room opened up. The two of them looked towards the sound.
"Sam, I'm back!" Dean called out. Julia noticed that a dreamy, happy smile bloomed on Sam's face at the man's voice. 'That's definitely a good sign', she thought.
"Hey, Dean!" she greeted loudly. Within moments Dean appeared in the doorway.
"Hey, Julia!" he stepped to her and hugged the petite form, actually lifting the girl up a bit. "It's so good to see you here!" Putting her down, Dean noticed a frown on Sam's brow that couldn't mean any good. Before anything unforgivable could have happened, Dean sat down beside Sam and pressed a long, but loving kiss on the boy's face, who blushed from it. As the man wrapped his arm around Sam's back, he felt Sam's hand slip onto his lower back lightly. The boy leaned his head on the strong shoulder with a pleasing sigh, earning a kiss on the forehead by it.
"Aww" Julia cooed with a small giggle. "So cute…"
"Yeah, he is" Dean breathed and nuzzled the brown locks. "You need a haircut, beautiful" he teased Sam gently. The boy pulled away with a sad nod; he liked his long tresses, but this was too long. "Hey, if you let me do it, it's not gonna be shorter than it was" Dean said with a serious tone.
"Really?" Sam asked, perking up a little bit.
Sam thought about the offer then with a wide smile he nodded. Dean grinned as well and pressed another kiss on the boy's cheek, but it landed almost on the edge of his mouth, causing Sam's face to darken to a ruby color.
"Hey, boys" Julia spoke up all of a sudden, startling the pair. "I would watch you two all day, but I need to go. I just wanted to tell you that the gang's gonna camp out in the next room tonight" she said to Dean. "We're gonna have a party."
"Cool" Dean replied. "But I can't go."
"Of course, I know" she waved to silence him. "I just wanted to inform you, so you'll be able to sleep tonight." Dean nodded gratefully then stood up to follow Julia out. The girl ruffled Sam's hair in a way of saying goodbye, but the boy swatted her hand away with a laugh. "Bye, sweetie" she called back from the doorway.
"Bye, Julia" Sam replied cheerfully. As he leaned back on the headboard, he heard Dean and Julia's hushed conversation.
"So, what do you think?" Dean asked his voice anxious.
"He's sweet and innocent" Julia replied in her calm voice. "I'm sure if he finds out everything, he will understand."
"How do you know that?"
"Because I experienced it, you know that. If none of you messes it up, then everything will work out just fine. I can see it in his eyes, not as strongly as in yours, but it's there. And it will grow into fullness. You're treading on the right path right now, so try not to stray from it. Understand?"
"Yes, ma'am" Dean replied quietly.
"He's good for you" Julia finished. "Don't let it go! I don't want loose him either. He's a cute little boy and already like a s- a little brother to me." There was a brief pause in their conversation then Sam heard Dean hug the girl.
"Have fun tonight!"
"Will do! Bye!" and with that the door closed. Sam stood up and carefully walked out into the kitchen.
"How are your eyes?" Dean asked as he helped the boy into a chair and packed the food out.
"Still the same" Sam answered a bit sadly. "But I practiced with them, just like you said."
"Good" Dean sat down beside him and started feeding him. "They will be as good as new in no time. You'll see."
The rest of breakfast passed in silence, the two of them just enjoying the peace around them.
"You're ready, Sammy?"
Sam looked up at Dean, as he finished his coffee, raising an eyebrow at the nickname.
"Sammy?" he asked incredulously. He made out Dean's shrug and knew the man was blushing and was looking at him sheepishly. "How did you come up with that?"
"I-I…" Dean rubbed the back of his neck embarrassed. "Just thought it fits you…" he finished with a mumble. Sam smiled shyly at that.
"Ready for what?" he finally asked, changing the subject. He heard Dean's relieved sigh then a snap of scissors.
"I'm going to cut your hair" the man answered. Sam nodded and stood up, waiting for Dean to tell him what to do. The man pulled a chair from the table in the middle of the sleeping quarter and led the boy to it, helping him sit down. Sam felt a sheet that Dean was tying around his neck and then a comb started sailing through his messy tresses.
"So" Dean spoke up, as the scissors snapped a lock in two halves, one falling down on the floor, "you finally met Julia. What do you think of her?"
Sam jumped a little at the first snap; it was a long time ago that he let his father cut his hair, he forgot the sounds. After a minute the question registered in his brain and he replied:
"She was really kind and it felt good to talk with her. It's so easy despite her being a stranger. And… I know she was the one, who had given me water…"
The snaps silenced abruptly, indicating Dean's surprise.
"When she put her hand on my arm" Sam explained quietly, "I remembered her touch and her small fingers, when she wrote me a message." After a few moments Dean continued his work, but Sam was not done:
"She told me you had come with her every time."
The scissors landed on the carpet with a short, loud thud. Sam started trembling, thinking he had done something wrong, but nothing came. After a minute he turned around and saw Dean's back turned to him. The sight was accompanied with an almost inaudible sniff. Sam carefully laid a hand on the man's back; he felt the trembles wracking the other's body.
"I'm sorry" Sam whispered. "I don't know why I said that. I know it was hard for you, too. Julia told me."
When he got no reaction out of him, he gently grabbed Dean's arm and turned him back. Pulling him closer, the boy put his arms around the distraught man and laid his head on the other's stomach. Slowly Dean's arm wrapped around his shoulders and the other hand stroked through his hair. For a few minutes they stayed like that in silence, just comforting themselves and each other. At last Dean pulled away and caressed the dear face looking up at him then he leant down to pick up the scissors and continued his work as soon as Sam turned forwards.
"What else did you talk about?" he asked lightly, but Sam heard the slight tremble in the man's voice. Then he decided he would cheer him up.
"She always asked about the two of us" he replied with a smile. "She tried to be nosy."
"Yeah" Dean laughed, his heart freeing from some of the weight on it, "that does sound like her."
"All in all" Sam finished "she's a good company." He bit into his lip before asking away:
"What did she think about me?"
"She said that you were sweet" Dean replied. "She already feels like you're in the family, even though she got to know you just today."
"How did the two of you met?"
"When I was a kid, I got lost in a forest. After a lot of wandering I stumbled upon her little shack and slept through the night in there. In the morning she found me there and took me in. She helped me and took care of me till I got myself together." Even though this wasn't the complete truth, it was the closest one to it.
"What about your family?" Sam asked confused.
"I don't have one" Dean replied quietly. "Not by blood. Ever since I can remember."
"It's okay, you didn't know" Dean stroked the boy's hair. "Since I met her, she is my family. And, of course, the few others that are her family."
"When have you met?"
"I was six. I was adopted at the time, but when I got lost, they never tried to find me. A few days later I found out that they died in an accident, just after the day I've gone missing. Fortunately I was able to go to their funeral. I could say goodbye to them."
"I'm sorry" Sam whispered. He could sympathize with the man; his situation was similar to the boy's, except that Sam couldn't remember any of it, because he was too young. "I lost my parents, too."
"But you have a father" Dean said a bit confused. "You were adopted?"
"Yes" Sam nodded, "I found out when I was eighteen. But I love Bobby like my own father. I always called him Dad and it felt strange when he suggested that I call him Bobby, if I wanted to. So I stuck with Dad."
"It's great if you have a good relationship with your father" Dean said. "Even if he's not your real father." Sam agreed with a nod. After a few snips, Dean put the scissors down and took the sheet from Sam. The boy immediately felt for his hair; he gaped from shock. His locks were just like before this whole thing.
"Wow" he breathed. "Thank you. It's perfect."
"You look younger like that" Dean commented a bit dreamily. Sam blushed lightly at the praise, causing Dean to press a kiss on the boy's cheek.
"Can I ask one thing?" Sam spoke up as Dean was putting away his tools. After an agreeing hum, the boy continued:
"How long did the punishment last?"
Dean froze for a few moments then turned back to Sam.
"Five days" he answered in a pained voice. "You got water twice a day: in the morning and at nightfall."
Sam nodded and stepped to him, giving the man a comforting hug. He felt the strong arms embrace him, pull him in tight, Dean's face buried in his neck. They stood like that, just enjoying each other's presence, as if the world around them has ceased to exist.
The crickets were quiet for once in the night, but their music was substituted with another melody. Their silence was so deep like they were also listening to the other music. In the motel room Sam sat on the table, legs folded into a pretzel, body turned towards the wall of the kitchen area. In the next room, their neighbors were partying free from care. One melody was played again and again, but Sam couldn't find it in himself to get bored by it. He was swaying slightly with the rhythm of the music, eyes closed as he enjoyed the violin. Luckily the party wasn't too loud, but it definitely let everyone in the whole motel know what's going on in that room.
"How do you like it?" came a deep voice from behind Sam. The boy smiled widely hearing it, but didn't stop to turn around. Soon two arms wrapped around just tightly enough so they could sway together to the music.
"Is it always like this?" Sam asked curiously. The reply came with a distracted hum that made him snicker. "It's good. I like the music."
"Yeah, it's their theme song" Dean smiled, eyes closed as his head rested on the boy's shoulder. "Pity I can't go."
"Yes, you can" Sam huffed out. "I would be fine."
"I wouldn't" with that Dean pressed a soft kiss to Sam's neck, putting a stop to the argument. They enjoyed the music for a little while then Dean straightened out. He stepped in front of Sam and held his hand out to the boy. Sam quirked an eyebrow at this, but he carefully – his hazy vision was worse at night than in the day – took the offered hand and stood up. Dean led him away from the table.
"Do you trust me?" he asked softly. Sam nodded right away; it shouldn't be questioned! Suddenly Dean pulled him closer and wrapped his free arm around the boy's waist. "Put your hand on my shoulder!"
"Dean, I…" Sam blushed from embarrassment. "I can't dance…"
"Don't worry about that!" Dean interrupted with a smile in his voice. "It's gonna be fast, but we'll manage it. And we're alone and just having some fun."
Finally Sam nodded, so the man could start a slow sway, finding the rhythm of the music. After a few minutes he quickened it a bit, letting the other catch up with him. Soon Sam was smiling in delight, as he succeeded to stay in rhythm without tripping or falling on his bottom.
"You see?" Dean asked. "You can dance. Just try to let go and enjoy the music!"
The two of them slowly caught up with the actual beat of the melody and they started to go around. All of a sudden Dean twirled Sam around, who laughed out in surprise but went along with it. Finally the two of them let themselves go and just enjoyed their little fun. Even Sam forgot his insecurities and went along with the various twirls and moves Dean made him do with a lot of confidence. Both of them were laughing with the others in the next room, when some of the amusement broke through the wall between them and the party.
After almost an hour of dancing they slowed down a little bit, to catch their breaths. The same melody was playing over and over again, but it had some magic in it that made it enjoyable even after the hundredth time. Sam leaned his body against Dean and laid his head on the man's shoulder, who freed his other hand from the boy's to hold him. Sam hooked his arm from Dean's shoulder around his neck, the other one lying against the man's chest. They swayed along the music, just enjoying each other's presence, their eyes closed. Only when Sam couldn't stop a yawn, did Dean stop the dance and with a kiss to the boy's forehead, he led him to his bed to tuck him in. As soon as Sam fell asleep, he got in his bed, letting the melody lull him into sleep as well.