In the beginning, there was SamRecipient: wetsammywinchesterRating:
Mentions of trauma and abuse, spoilers up to season sixSummary:
Dean is content to drink himself to death the in company of Ben and Lisa, but when Bobby calls, asking for help, he can’t let his friend down. Omens creep toward Sioux Falls, a trail of breadcrumbs leading right up to one very not-dead, very blind little brother. AU after season five.
Dean was daydreaming when his phone started vibrating. He jumped, switching his beer to his left hand and pulling his phone out of his trousers with the other.
He answered the call without thinking. “Dean here,” he said, waiting for a work buddy to ask him to a cookout or for Lisa to ask him to pick Ben up again.
“Dean,” a gruff voice said. It was one he hadn’t heard in over two years, but one that was as familiar as his own nonetheless.
He swallowed, chewing at the inside of his cheek, debating on hanging up right then or there.
“Dean, you know it’s me, son,” Bobby continued, unperturbed, “you know I wouldn’t bother you unless it was real important.”
Dean closed his eyes, sinking into the couch cushions.
“What is it?” he asked several beats later, hating himself for biting when he should’ve swam to safety.
Dean ended the call feeling more numb than he had when he was drinking. He put his phone back in his pocket and stared at the T.V. It was off. It had always been off.
He was home alone, and there were empty beer bottles scattered around the coffee table, and a bottle of Jack he’d have to put back in its secret hiding place before Lisa came home.
Inside, it was dead silent. Outside, kids were playing in the yard across the street, shrieking and laughing.
Dean got up and packed his things, leaving behind a simple handwritten note for Ben and Lisa.
Singer’s Auto Shop lowered his blood pressure upon sight of the rusty iron gates. Bobby’s house was a static piece of Dean’s life, always there, immovable, unchangeable. When other kids had blankies and pacifiers, Dean had busted hub caps and playgrounds made of junkers.
It was miracle alone he’d never gotten tetanus.
He’d almost not had the heart to drive the Impala out here, and debated over leaving it in the garage and just taking the trunk.
In the end, he pulled the tarp off of her, made sure everything was still in proper order, and went out onto the road.
The drive was made just as uncomfortable by the lonely interior as it was by the incessant phone calls. Dean had to turn his phone off before he even hit mile fifty, hoping to hell that Bobby didn’t have any last minute, pertinent information to give him.
He parked his car next to Bobby’s well-loved Chevelle and cut the engine. He spent a moment lingering in the driver’s seat, hands tightening around the wheel.
By the time he was out of the car, Bobby was thundering down the steps and heading over to him.
Dean’s initial reaction was to flinch and back up, but Bobby didn’t release him from the bone-crushing hug until he hugged back, albeit half-heartedly.
Bobby pulled away, keeping a hand on Dean’s shoulder and squeezing. His hat did little to hide the tears beading in the corner of his eyes. “It’s good to see you, son,” he said.
Dean nodded. They broke apart and headed inside, Dean trailing after Bobby, re-memorizing every detail of the house, every notch in the crown moulding from some monster fight or another, every sigil that was hidden unless you knew where to look, every crumpled beer can littering the various surfaces.
He relished the familiarity but did his best to stay a step removed from all of it. If anything, this was a goodbye tour, the band getting back together one last time before the true breakup. He couldn’t get attached.
He was helping a friend. That was all.
Bobby led him into the kitchen and they sat down across from each other. Bobby gave him a beer and Dean drank it down like water, and downed another in the same fashion.
Bobby either didn’t think anything was amiss or chose to ignore it.
Dean cleared his throat, folding his hands on the table and staring down Bobby, who kept his face blank. “So, what we got?” he asked.
Bobby eyed him for a moment, silently deliberating something. After a beat, he appeared to come to a conclusion, and sat up straighter, leaning in close. Dean leaned in, too, out of habit.
“Somethin’ came home,” Bobby said, ever the cryptic son of a bitch, and took another sip of his beer.
“What are we talking?” Dean asked, all business. “It’s gotta be something big leagues, right? Demonic?”
Bobby tilted his head. “Not sure.”
Dean was losing patience. “Gonna need more than that, Bobby,” he said.
Bobby gave him that one. “Alright,” he said. “But I’ll warn ya, the story doesn’t fill in the blanks.”
Dean waved him on.
“Lotsa omens happening recently,” Bobby began. “Somethin’ heading from the west into Sioux Falls. Spontaneous lightning strikes. Things burning outta nowhere. Farm animals eviscerated.”
“So the usual,” Dean said, dry as ever.
Bobby nodded his head. “At first,” he acquiesced. “But then it got littler.”
“Littler?” Dean repeated.
“Littler,” Bobby confirmed. “Windshields bursting into pieces, cats going crazy. It took me awhile to see it, but after awhile, I noticed a pattern. Everything was happening in a line. A line heading straight my way. And last night, there was a lightning storm over the pond and nothing else. Strikes after strikes in the same place.”
“I went out there after calling you,” Bobby said. “Found a perfect circle of the ground completely burnt. All black ash, hard-packed like something big had been there. Can’t explain it. It’s not in any mythology, anything Biblical. Hell, I even tried the internet. Only got a few extraterrestrial conspiracy website hits, fiction books, the like.”
“Okay…” Dean said. “But nothing’s out here killing people?”
“Dean,” Bobby said, shaking his head. “Whatever this is, it’s as big as we’ve ever seen it. After radio silence for two years, no angels, no demons… don’t you think it’s a little off?”
Dean sighed, scrubbing a hand down his face. “Okay, so it’s weird,” he said. “And local. What the hell do we do next?”
“Well, I thought a pair of fresh eyes might help,” Bobby said. “Why don’t we head out back, down to the water. Maybe you’ll find something that I missed.”
Dean didn’t have a better idea, so off they went.
Dean crested the hill before Bobby, who wasn’t all that young anymore, so he was the first one to see it.
“Uh, Bobby,” Dean said, not turning as his uncle approached. “I definitely think you missed something.”
In the dead center of the circle of dead earth was a naked man, ghostly white and slim, and naked as the day he was born.
If he was even something that got birthed.
Dean approached slowly, one hand in his jacket pocket, ready to pull out his pistol at even a twitch of a toenail. Bobby stayed behind him, watching his back. For all they knew, it was a setup or a ritual or something else entirely.
When Dean got a few paces away from the shore of the water, he could make out more details of the figure. He was long, with long, ragged brown hair that fell past his shoulders. Dean could only see his backside, but he was the one shape in the whole world that Dean would recognize anywhere, even emaciated and wild-haired.
Dean ran forward, ignoring Bobby’s warning shouts behind him. He tumbled to his knees beside his brother, the cracked, black earth digging into his knees. His hands hovered above Sam’s prone form, heart crawling up his chest, skin overheated.
Sam was so still. So pale. Yet unblemished, his skin devoid of any familiar scars, or worse, mutilation from unspeakable acts in a land impossibly far beneath them.
After a moment’s hesitation, Dean reached out and took Sam by the shoulder, rolling him from his side to his back. Sam’s head lolled against the ground, but his skin was warm.
His tattoo was gone, but it didn’t surprise Dean, considering the circumstances. His ribs poked out of his chest like they were struggling to burst free. While his hair was wild and long, his face was naked of hair. His lips were slightly open, and Dean ran a hand over them, feeling faint warm breaths meet his palm.
He let out a choked-out sob of pure relief, feeling his whole body go weak. He put a hand on Sam’s sharp collarbone and shook him gently.
“Sammy,” he grunted, voice cracking over the syllable. “Hey, Sam, you there?”
Bobby sat across from him. “Dean…” he said.
Sam moaned quietly.
Bobby shut up.
Dean leaned over Sam, watching his eyelids flutter, feeling uncontained joy threatening to burst out of his chest like songbirds taking flight, soaring toward the sun, toward the beyond.
The feeling of unimaginable freedom, of flight, abruptly ended when Sam’s eyes opened, blinking tiredly, his milky white eyes roving endlessly, searching for sights he could not see.
Sam freaked when they tried to move him, crying out wordlessly and lashing out, but he seemed to still be able to hear, for all it took was Dean’s bedraggled, desperate pleas for him to calm down, blinking rapidly.
Sam touched his own face, lips turned down in a small, puzzled frown, and Dean reached out to grab at his hands, unable to tolerate Sam’s self-exploration of his newfound blindness.
Dean curled his fingers around Sam’s bony wrists, rubbing his thumbs over the jut of bone there. “Hey, hey, hey, shush, it’s okay,” Dean said, even as Sam sat frozen in silence, “we’re gonna patch you right up, bring you home to Bobby’s, okay? You’re safe. You’re here with us.”
Bobby cleared his throat, giving Dean a warning look, but Dean cut him off with a fiery glare. He knew the dangers of the situation. If Sam were to rise up to thrice his height, borne on a throne of smoke and disease, Dean would welcome his inevitable death, willing to trade it all for seeing his brother one last time.
Sam was able to walk on his own back to the house, heavily assisted by Dean and Bobby. Once in the bedroom, he collapsed onto the bed, breathing harshly.
Dean sat by his side, running a hand uselessly up and down Sam’s arm as Sam struggled to catch his breath. “You’ll be okay,” he said absently, “don’t you worry.”
Sam was compliant when Dean gave him a shower, and even dressed himself in a t-shirt and sweats. His wet hair curled around his shoulders and Dean’s heart constricted at how damn normal he looked, save for his colorless eyes.
Sam was compliant when he was fed Bobby’s best chili, and didn’t flinch or gag when they gave him a silver spoon and a glass of holy icewater.
Sam kept eating when Bobby got up from the table, keeping up a constant dialogue about innocent flirtations with Sheriff Mills, all the while slicing at the back of his forearm and drawing an angelic banishing symbol on the wall in his own blood.
He pressed into it and nothing happened, not that Dean thought anything would if it were the Prince of Darkness sitting across from him. If somehow Lucifer had returned, they might as well sit back and enjoy the vessel, for all the shit they could do to stop him.
Dean couldn’t even feel grateful for Sam’s docile nature. While it was better than a cornered, scared animal, or a scarred, paranoid survivor, it was disconcerting.
He wasn’t acting like Sam. He wasn’t acting like anyone. He obeyed their requests and stared blankly ahead. He clung to Dean’s arm when Dean led him from one place to the next, but beyond that, he was a statue.
Dean hoped to god he wasn’t a monster. He could deal with a brother with PTSD. He couldn’t deal with something taking his form, taunting him with reminders of Sam’s horrible sacrifice.
After a day of bringing Sam from place to place like an elderly dog, Dean was at wit’s end.
He practically dragged Sam into the Impala, forcing him into the passenger seat. After making sure Sam was in place, he ran over to the driver’s side and put the key into the ignition, the car rumbling to life beneath their bodies.
He grabbed Sam’s hands and tried not to feel guilty when Sam flinched. He put Sam’s hands on the dashboard, palms-down.
“Recognize that?” Dean barked. He watched Sam’s skeleton fingers brush across the plastic and chrome, bumping along radio dials and AC covers. “You remember this?”
Dean took an exaggerated breath. “Smell that?” he asked.
“Gunsmoke, leather, and shitty takeout,” Dean said, forcing a laugh through the lump in his throat. “Fuck, Sammy, say something, anything. You grew up in this place. You remember, right? Prove it to me. Tell me you remember.”
Sam’s lips thinned, his white eyes going red at the corners. Sam felt for the glove box, pulling it open and dragging the shoebox of cassettes into his lap. He counted the spines of the plastic casings, stopping at the fifth from the bottom. Led Zeppelin IV. He took it out and held it out to Dean, sniffling, hand shaking.
Emotion. It was pain, it was the raw pain of a man and a bittersweet reunion, but it was life.
It was Sam.
Dean put the cassette into the player and took them on a drive.
Jody Mills came by once, with a case of beer for Bobby. She seemed embarrassed to be there in front of Dean, but Dean felt a rush of warmth in his chest at the way the two of them acted around each other.
She stopped by again, a day later, with a foldable cane for Sam.
After that, Dean was open with his blessings.
She was family now.
Progress was slow but steady after that. Sam learned to get around with little supervision, getting a feel for the space. He still didn’t talk, but he ate, bathed, and got dressed. He slept at night without nightmares. He regained color and muscle mass.
It was the only positive Dean could find, and to be fair, it was a massive one. Sam was the biggest positive the Earth could boast.
But in his free time, Dean researched ways to give Sam his sight back. He was older, and wouldn’t dare use a demon deal, but it was off the table regardless, for there weren’t any crossroads demons to be found.
He prayed a hell of a lot. Half of his constant internal monologue was addressed to Castiel or heaven in general, asking for information, for help with Sam’s eyes, for answers as to what the hell was going on, begging for the angels to give a shit, because this was obviously a big fish sorta thing.
No one ever responded. Cas never came.
While it hurt, Dean wasn’t surprised.
It hurt more to not know. To maybe never know the full story.
The hardest adjustment to make was Dean coming to grips that Sam would most likely be blind and mute for the rest of his life.
Dean tried not to be too phased by it. If he were asked if he’d rather have his brother burning in the deepest circle of hell, or alive and well but blind and mute, then it was seriously a laughable question.
Sam grew more into himself each day, grinning in that familiar, lopsided, dimply way when Dean told an awful pun. He bickered without words, stealing garlic toast from Dean’s plate with incredible accuracy for a newly blind man.
Sometimes, though, he scared the shit outta Dean.
Dean would be blabbing his ass off, doing the talking for the both of them, rambling about some childhood memory they shared, when Sam would just… change.
He went from a sickly fawn to a soldier home from war, eyes gaunt and drawn. Even without pupils, Dean could tell when Sam’s eyes went far away, when his shoulders went stiff.
He hated it more than anything. He hated it more than the uncertainty he felt about their future.
It was Sam remembering something no man should remember.
Dean did his best to distract Sam, to make him happy, to make him feel safe, and ninety-nine percent of the time, it worked.
There were always those moments, though, when Sam was hundreds of years old, not thirty.
Life with Bobby and Sam became the new normal. After Sam magically silently forced the truth about Dean’s last two years with Lisa and Ben out of Dean, it became Sam’s mission to get Dean to tell Lisa a real goodbye.
He’d press Dean’s phone into his hand at the oddest of moments, looking in the general direction of Dean’s face with an open, expectant look.
Dean buckled embarrassingly early.
He called Lisa with Sam right there by his side, solid and listening.
Lisa understood. Dean missed her. She missed him.
But the wound healed far faster than Dean would ever admit.
Two weeks after Sam came back, things changed.
Dean didn’t know why he’d been so afraid of going back down to the pond, but in the end, it was Sam who asked to go. He took Dean by the hand and brought him to the back door, knocking his cane against the kickplate.
Dean shook his head, but shrugged. “Go ahead,” he said, and Sam unlocked the door.
They walked down together. Sam valued his independence, so Dean only reached out to help him walk when he lost his balance, tripping over a stone unseen by both among the tall grasses.
The closer they got to the black mark, the more tense Sam got, eyes wider.
Without any assistance, he stopped in the perfect center of the circle, turning to face the lake.
Dean stood by his side, silent, just an observer in whatever the hell was happening.
“Do you know what this is?” Dean asked, his voice jarring the stillness of the scene. “Do you know what happened, Sammy?”
Sam’s eyes flashed, and he grimaced, staring out across the unseen waters.
“Sammy,” Dean said. “What is it?”
“You won’t… find it in any book,” Sam said slowly, grating out the syllables like a disused robot with a rusty jaw. “It is… the Winchester Gospel.”
Sam shuffled closer, seeking comfort. Dean wrapped an arm around his shoulders, grounding him.
“In the beginning, there was Sam,” Sam started, and told Dean all about his god sacrifices and second chances.