Word Count: 4800
Author's Notes: 13.23 episode coda, Jack POV on Sam, based on prompt: “something with Jack, Sam, and Sam's powers”. We’ve seen Sam self-destruct after Dean dies, and this was a good chance to explore what that looks like when Sam’s not alone.
Summary: It’s a slow procession out the front door of the Bunker that first week until it’s just the two of them left. Jack wants to comfort Sam after Michael takes off with Dean but doesn’t know how, and Sam is obsessed with how to get his brother back, no matter what the cost.
It’s a slow procession out the front door of the Bunker that first week.
Sam says he can’t blame them for leaving, but Jack can.
Cas is the first one out. He waits only long enough to make sure that Sam and Jack walk in the front door alive, before mumbling something about radio silence in heaven and giving them awkward hugs and walking back out the same door.
Jack follows him. There are things he needs to ask, things that Sam wouldn’t talk about on the ride home, but as they step outside Cas turns and places a hand on Jack’s shoulder.
“You need to stay,” Cas says and glances over Jack’s shoulder. “Take care of Sam. He… he doesn’t do well without Dean.”
Sun glints off the gold hood of Cas’s car as it rolls down the gravel road and Jacks goes back inside.
Rowena is next. She arrived in the chaos that followed the arrival of Lucifer and Michael, and lingers only long enough for Sam to confirm that Lucifer is dead and Michael is out and about wearing a Dean-suit. She side-eyes Sam’s slumped shoulders as she strolls through the library, slipping a few spell books off the shelves and into her bag. The witch’s energy and smile are off. She makes Jack nervous, but Sam doesn’t seem to notice.
“Take care of yourself, Samuel,” she says as she stops in front of him, looking small as a kitten, with claws just as sharp. Sam leans down and for a moment Jack thinks he’s going to kiss her on the forehead, but instead he pulls one of the books back out of her bag and Rowena shrugs.
“Word of advice. Leave Michael alone and maybe he’ll leave you alone.”
Sam never responds when people talk about the archangel or Dean, just looks away, so Jack’s surprised when his hug envelops the witch, smothering her for several minutes until she pushes back. “Give me room to breathe, giant.”
She wipes her eyes before moving onto Jack, and pats his cheek. “Too bad the wee battery here can’t recharge.”
Jack holds his breath at the touch of her palm on his skin. The dabb of grace that Lucifer left inside him still gives him the ability to sense emotions, although they are muted and dull compared to before. Rowena’s hand on his cheek sends off waves of fear and loss and envy layered with self-preservation and concern for Sam that makes Jack want to fall on his knees. She sweeps out the door and Sam spends the rest of the day meticulously painting angel sigils around the Bunker’s main door.
Bobby and Mary are the last two to go. They stay for a few days longer, and watch Sam from doorways and whisper together in the kitchen. Bobby takes Sam aside in the war room and outlines how the two of them are eager to get out and start the hunt for Michael, and Sam listens and nods without saying a word. The two pack up a car from the garage and hit the road two days later.
Sam tries to get Jack to leave with them, says it would be good for Jack to be around good people, hunters that he could learn from. Bobby and Mary would take good care of Jack but Jack refuses to go, hiding out in his room as they leave.
Quiet falls over the Bunker that night. Jack was used to hearing Sam’s soft footfalls or Dean’s more purposeful ones in the hallways, the clatter of pots in the kitchen while dinner was made, the tinny sound of music playing loud in Dean’s headphones, or the tapping of laptop keys as Sam spent a late night at one of the library tables. There was a thrum of energy to the place. Tonight, it’s gone silent.
With his ear pressed to Sam’s door, Jack hears nothing on the other side except the whirring of the ceiling fan. He was hoping they could talk now that everyone is gone. Some of the things that Lucifer said before he died, why Dean would say yes, and about this clenching he feels around his heart when he thinks of Dean. Jack caused all of this suffering when he brought Lucifer back to the Bunker and he doesn't know how to make it better, how to say he’s sorry, but Sam always knows the right thing to say.
If he would just come out of his room.
Instead, Jack sits in his bed, rewatching Clone Wars. As the sixth episode starts, he punches his pillow up a few times and curls around it, drifting off to sleep.
In his dream, they ride in the Impala together. He can see the backs of their heads from where he sits in the backseat. Dean’s short hair and Sam’s long, their stubbled jaw lines as they turn to talk to each other. The sounds of Sam’s laughter and Dean’s jokes mix with the murmur of the radio.
“You did it.”
“No, we did it.”
The windows darken as a rain of ash falls across the windshield.
He wakes up choking in the dark of his room, trying to dig his way out of the ash, only to be wrapped in sheets and blankets.
The next few days roll by slowly. If the noisy exodus of people looking to hide from the coming apocalypse or hunt down Michael frustrated Jack before, this quiet is worse. Sam is usually up first and fixes coffee without a word before retreating to the same chair in the library and the same dusty stack of books, his laptop screen open nearby. Jack isn’t sure that Sam is aware of him, is aware of himself as he wanders like a ghost through the hallways. Jack can’t remember the last time Sam ate solid food or changed his clothes or slept more than two hours at a time, and Sam’s stony face makes it clear that he shouldn’t ask.
Instead he watches reruns of Super Friends with his headphones on and sits in one of the leather chairs in the corner of the library, one eye on his screen and one eye on Sam.
It’s not that he thinks Sam would leave him to look for Dean, not really. It’s just that he’s not sure Sam would notice that Jack wasn’t in the car with him.
With all the focus on his father returning from the other world, Jack had pushed the thought of Michael to the back of his mind. Sam has yet to talk about how Michael came to be inside Dean and how he came to rescue them. Cas’s explanation was succinct. “He choose you, Sam. Again.”
Jack senses there was a lot more behind that answer but the angel he once called his father didn’t stick around to explain. Jack doesn’t know much about what’s happening in heaven that Cas needs to fix and he doesn’t really care.
That night he hears gunshots. He peeks around the corner into the shooting range to see Sam taking target practice. An open box of ammo is spilled on the counter and Sam is firing at a shredded target down the range. When the gun is empty, Sam methodically loads it back up again and fires until empty again. Fire and load. Fire and load.
Sam’s face is blank and his jaw tight as he changes the paper target out. Jack wants to reach out, to comfort, but waits because this isn’t the Sam he knows.The feelings of pain that roll off this Sam are sharp and cold as a tomb.
As the target goes up and Sam starts firing his fourth round, Jack can’t bear to feel that pain and runs. Through his tears, he stumbles into the garage and crawls into the Impala’s back seat. The leather smells the same as before. The small army men stuck in the ashtray are the same. He closes his eyes and can still smell Dean’s after-shave. He remembers looking at the bristly hair on the back of Dean’s head and the wavy curls at the back of Sam’s. During all those rides, he would sit in the back seat and watch them talk to each other, always turning to each other, as they would talk and joke and argue.
Jack falls asleep, cheek pressed against the leather and his hand resting on the banged-up boxes of cassette tapes on the footwell.
The next day, he wanders into Dean’s room. This room was always off-limits to Jack - Dean made that very clear. Photos are scattered across the desk and a few are propped up by Dean’s lamp. Despite the yellowed paper and tattered edges, it’s easy to recognize Mary and Sam in many of them, and there’s a man who looks like Bobby and another with a bearded man who is large and dark haired holding two small boys on the hood of the Impala. Jack pulls them in front of him, flipping through and tracing Sam and Dean’s faces along the cracked and glossy surfaces. They looked happy. They looked like a family.
In the last one, Mary holds a baby with dark hair which must be Sam. Hard to imagine a time when Sam was that small. He rises up tall in all Jack’s memories from the very beginning, bigger than ...
Sam is standing in the doorway when he looks up.
“Sam, I’m sorry—“
“You should probably get some sleep now.”
Jack flushes at the words. He stands up and puts the photos back where they were and gets a nod from Sam and a wan smile as he leaves the room. Jack thought he’d be angry to find him here, invading Dean’s space, but he’s not and Jack isn’t sure which is worse.
“Hey,” Sam calls out as he walks out. “Sorry I haven’t been here for you. What Lucifer did to you - I should have warned you what he was capable of.”
Jack pauses and considers how much to jump through this open door he’s been given to talk. “All of you tried to tell me but I didn’t listen.”
Sam shrugs. Nothing more can be said right now, so he turns away and his footsteps echo back down the hall as Jack falls into bed.
“You up?” Sam asks from the half-opened door.
Jack pulls himself up against the old headboard and nods, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes as Sam sits beside him on the mattress. Dark smudges are under Sam’s eyes and his hair is greasy and lank, but he’s sitting close to Jack and that’s another door that’s now open. Strong emotions are still coming off Sam - anguish, despair, rage - but his face doesn’t show any of it.
“We should check that wound.” The knife wound from where he stabbed himself in the chest with the archangel blade has started to crust over and he rubs at it as Sam opens up a banged-up First Aid kit on his lap. “Another thing you’re not used to yet, huh?”
Sam waits patiently for Jack to lift his t-shirt and then sets to work changing the bandage there. Care is taken to peel the days-old bandage off and Jack feels his eyes fill with tears.
“You okay?” Sam’s brow wrinkles in concern and Jack nods, wiping at the corners of his eyes. “It’s been a long week. For all of us.”
Sam packs up the kit again and heads out of the room before Jack can work up courage to say anything. It’s no surprise that he finds Sam leaning over the War Room table, his long fingers grazing across the vellum pages of a large book.
As Jack watches, his stomach gurgles - another thing he’s getting used to now that he’s mostly human and apparently still growing - and he heads to the kitchen. Ten minutes later he walks back out, carrying a tray carefully as he winds through the hallway. He sets the tray on the table and pushes it towards Sam with a smile.
“Toast. Dean showed me how to make it. In the toaster. Orange juice too. He said vitamin C was important.”
Sam smiles and when Jack doesn’t leave, he picks up a piece of toast and takes a bite to make him happy.
“I want to help,” Jack says. “And you need a shower.”
Sam chokes on the toast and set it down on the plate. “I guess I do.”
“You’re the reason I’m alive,” Jack blurts out. “This was all my fault. Lucifer coming into the Bunker. Dean--”
Sam's eyes open wide. “Jack, it wasn’t your fault. Lucifer manipulates everyone. I should have told you before, talked about the things he was capable of, but--” He sighs and closes his eyes for a moment, and when he looks up again, his eyes are wet and his mouth is a tight line. “But I couldn’t.”
When Jack starts to protest, Sam waves him off. “If you want to help, I have an idea, thanks to Rowena of all people. Not sure it’s a good idea but we got nothing else. Let me shower and we’ll talk. Okay?”
Sam scrubs a hand through his hair and ambles towards his room and Jack takes his place at the table, pulling the book towards him.
In Norse mythology, the apples of Iðunn are what kept the gods and goddesses forever youthful and their powers strong. Her name translates to “ever young” and she is often referred to as the Rejuvenator.
Jack is well into a story about Loki and his role in kidnapping Iðunn when Sam walks back into the War Room with damp hair and wrinkled but clean clothes.
“Do you see?” Sam says as he pulls out the chair next to Jack. He shakes his head and Sam takes a minute before he speaks again. “The apples - the fruit - help the gods to stay youthful but more importantly to us, it keep their powers strong. It rejuvenates them, recharges them like a battery.”
Too bad the wee battery here can’t recharge.
“You think we can charge up my powers?” Jack says. Hope flood his system and he pushes the chair back. “So that I can fight Michael?”
A flicker of guilt travels across Sam’s face and it’s too much for Jack.
“I’ll do it. Whatever you need.”
He doesn’t know a lot about spellwork or witchcraft, and listens carefully to everything Sam says about the careful measurements, the precise annunciation of the words. He is planning to combine a few of the spells from the Men of Letters archives and use the last remaining fruit they have from the Tree of Life. It’s a risk because it’s the last one they have and Cas isn’t answering his phone or any of Jack’s prayers. Sam reassures him that Cas always comes back and heaven’s issues can be next on their list after Michael if this works.
It’s a reach. Sam doesn’t know whether the modified spells will work together, and Rowena would only offer lukewarm encouragement from a distance. She wants them to succeed but has no intention to get involved with archangels again.
He watches Sam. Closely. That gray cloud of desperation and guilt that has surrounded Sam since that awful moment in the church - thanks for the suit - has lifted and now there’s a steely focus to his thoughts that Jack’s never felt before.
That afternoon, the two of them drive to a Wiccan shop called The Green Witch in Kansas City. It’s sunny and beautiful outside and Jack rolls down his window to soak in the warmth while Sam talks more than he has in the previous week. As they drive, he points out Lawrence, where he was born and Dean spent the first four years of his life, and talks about the case they had in their childhood home. Jack asks questions about John, what kind of father he was, and Sam answers obliquely about the time they spent on the road, changing schools every few weeks, and some of the craziest motels they stayed at as kids.
“Dean’s favorite when we were little was this cowboy hotel out in Wyoming. They had two wooden horses out front, painted to look real. Dean insisted that we sit on them and Dad took our picture. Wish I knew what happened to it. That picture. Could have been at Bobby’s house when it burned down.”
Jack doesn’t interrupt the nostalgic flow of words and lets it all wash over him. It’s comforting to hear the sound of Sam’s voice again after so much silence and they arrive in Kansas City before he hears everything he wants to know about that high school they went to in Ohio.
Sam recognizes the lady behind the counter at the Wiccan shop. She’s thin and pale and reminds Jack of the elves in Lord of The Rings, minus the pointy ears. She nods solemnly as Sam reads off his list of ingredients and Jack explores the display of crystals in the front window. They’re pretty, clear and pink and purple, and they sparkle in the sun but he’s not sure what they have to do with witchcraft. He wraps his fingers around the largest one and feels a humming sensation deep inside his core.
“They have the amber and oil of acacia,” Sam says as he comes up behind Jack, eyeing the crystal. “Maybe you shouldn’t touch that. It looks expensive.”
“We need to buy this.”
“We need to go and I don’t have an extra--” Sam pulls the price tag away from the crystal and his eyes roll back. “$300. Definitely not.”
When Sam goes to walk away, Jack grabs his wrist. “It helps. I can tell.”
Sam sighs and picks it up. “Can’t hurt.”
It’s dark when they return to the Bunker, and Jack is exhausted. Sam heads to the library, paper shopping bags in his arms, as soon as they walked up from the garage.
“Wait, Sam. You need sleep too.”
Sam pauses with his foot on the step leading up out of the War Room, the soft golden glow of the library desk lights reflecting on the planes of his face. “We’re so close, Jack. This can’t wait.”
“You’ve only slept a few hours since your mother left. I’ve been watching,” he says and when Sam doesn’t move, he adds, “You said spells are easy to mess up and this is too important.”
Sam considers this and nods. “You’re right. I’ll get some sleep.”
His dream tonight isn’t about the other world. It isn’t about the archangels. Sam is with him in a forest; the leaves rich and green and fluttering in the wind and the branches so dense that the sun doesn’t hit the ground where they stand.
Sam stands next to him - well, stands above him, broad and imposing like he isn’t in real life. His muscles and neck are thick, his face as dark as the forest around them. Jack wants to ask where they are going but Sam grabs his hand and pulls him along. He’s unsure where they’re going, but Sam seems to know so he just stumbles behind.
When he walks through the hallway the next morning, he can hear Sam talking inside the kitchen and waits outside the door.
“Max, I could really use your help.”
When he peeks around the corner, Sam is seated at the canteen table, holding his cell in one hand and rubbing his temple with the other.
“This is about Dean. This spell I’m working on - I’m not sure if I’m doing this right. If you could—“
Jack hears the tinny response of the person on the other line and Sam’s irritated breaths as if he’s holding back words. Finally the words stop and Sam sighs.
“Of course, Max, I understand you’re busy. If you can’t come, at least tell me if you think it’s going to work.”
Jack wants to grab the phone out of Sam’s hand and yell at this Max person to help but instead he listens as Sam talks through the ingredient list and writes down a few adjustments.
Jack doesn’t find Sam at the shooting range that night. Instead, he’s slouched at the library table, halfway through a bottle of Jack.
“Sam,” he calls softly. Sam tosses back the last of his drink and looks up. The cold, stone anger from the shooting range is gone. Sam’s eyes are wet and Jack can feel a flood of sorrow washing over him. “Please, let me help.”
He pries the glass from Sam’s hand and moves the bottle back before pulling him to his feet.
“It’s all my fault,” Sam slurs. “If I could just stop dying, Dean would be here. He should be here.”
He guides Sam to his bedroom and lays him across the mattress. As Jack pulls off his boots, Sam begins to snore.
That next morning, they rise before sun-up. Sam makes a thermos full of coffee and has Jack pack up the last of the donuts they got when they were in town yesterday. Jack likes the filled ones, the lady behind the counter called them bismarcks, while Sam got a few cinnamon sugar ones. They head out to the nearby state park and find a spot by a creek that Sam remembered.
Max thought it was important for the spell to be done out in the open, over grass and dirt instead of concrete, with water running nearby, so they could draw upon all four elements. As the night sky begins to turn indigo with the dawn, Sam sketches out a sigil in the dirt with a stick and starts a small campfire in the center that is more smoke than flame. He then crushes the last of the Fruit of Life with his mortar and pestle, and the two of them settle down on opposite sides of the circle.
Jack pulls an envelope out of one pocket and the crystal from the Wiccan shop window in the other. The ink on the envelope is smudged from where he held it tightly in the car but he can still read the words to the spell.
He takes a deep breath. Not that he’s worried about whether it will work or what it might feel like to have his powers back. Michael deserves to be destroyed after everything he’s done. Jack was so sure of this when they were on the other side but now, killing Michael could mean he kills Dean, then Sam would have nothing left.
As the sun cracks the horizon, Sam puts the fruit inside a small metal bowl and sets it over the fire in offering to Iðunn. The mixture begins to smoke, and he nods at Jack to begin the incantation with him.
Sam’s deep voice and Jack’s higher one repeat the lines again and again, and nothing happens. There’s no flash of light, no sound from the fire, and Jack feels no different even as Sam searches his face for some kind of sign of transformation.
Sam’s eyes close and he continues to chant the words of the spell so Jack does the same until he hears Sam’s voice come to a halt. In the silence that follows, a few crows can be heard cawing from a nearby field and little sparrows hop on the ground nearby and let out their sharp trills. There is a splash of small fish in the creek, but no sign.
“Sam?” Jack opens his eyes.
Another ten minutes go by before Sam begins to put out the fire and gather up their things to leave.
When they arrive home, Sam disappears into his room and Jack sits in the library for hours. He practices and practices but the pencil won’t rise off the table, no matter how hard he tries.
Mary calls the next morning. She and Bobby are following a lead. A well-dressed man matching Dean’s description was seen in Chicago, and they promise to send Sam the security camera footage later when they get to the motel. He nods and his eyes are blank as he hands off the phone to Jack. Mary asks him how things are going, how Sam is doing and Jack’s answers are vague. If Sam didn’t tell her about the spell, he’s not going to either. Not that it matters.
While Mary talks on about them stopping by old Bobby’s junkyard in Sioux Falls, Jack watches Sam pulling books from the library shelves and piling them up on the table next to his laptop. The pile grows as Mary talks. By the time she says goodbye, Sam waves off the phone when Jack offers it again, pulling out a large black book from a drawer under the card catalog, leafing through the chicken scratch writing on its vellum pages.
He puts the phone back in its cradle in the kitchen and a wave of angry tears surprise him. No amount of toast or apologies will help get Dean back and without his powers, he’s useless. Impotence gnaws at his insides and the idea of walking back out to the library to face Sam crushes him, but he is tired of being alone. He wipes the hot tear tracks away and breathes in and out deeply, a tip Sam taught him those first few days in the Bunker.
Ice cream, he thinks. Sam bought me some ice cream yesterday. It’s ridiculous but it’s all he can think of to do right then, digging the carton out of the freezer and scooping the cookie dough ice cream into two bowls.
Sam doesn’t look up when Jack walks back in with the bowls; instead he slams the book shut that he’s reading, running a hand through his hair. “More pages are missing. Goddamnit Rowena!” Tears are welling up in Sam’s eyes as he sweeps the book off the table and the Black Grimoire lands at Jack’s feet.
Jack hesitates; he can’t pick it up with his hands full and senses that this is a bad time to comfort Sam.
“Goddamnit!” Sam’s face screws up and he slams his fists down on the table, and then all hell breaks loose in the room. The laptop spins off the table to hit one of the brick pillars, cracking open and falling to the floor, and the bowls in Jack’s hand explode and he can feel stripes of cold ice cream where it hits his face and arms. There’s a moment of silence in the room that is broken as Jack drops the remaining shards of ceramic to the ground.
They look at each other in shock.
“Was that you?” Sam whispers to Jack who still hasn’t moved. He doesn’t feel the same coursing of energy through his body like before or its glassy after-effects and shakes his head.
“That wasn’t me.”
The blood runs from Sam’s face and he plucks at the front of his plaid overshirt as he stumbles back. “No, no. That’s not possible.”
“Sam,” Jack wipes his sticky hands on his jeans and steps closer. “Could the spell have--”
“NO.” The sound that Sam makes is high and desperate, and Jack can feel it now. The power coming off Sam is like the hum of an electrical station.
“It’s not me, Sam. It’s you.” He grabs his hand and Sam flinches back. Jack’s heard some of the stories from him - the visions, the demon blood, the mistakes - and what it was like to struggle with powers you didn’t understand. “Your powers from before? Or maybe some leftover angel grace inside you?”
Sam slumps down against the pillar, next to the ruined laptop, and Jack doesn’t let go of his hand, sitting cross-legged on the floor next to him. Sam’s breathing is ragged and his eyes move between the busted laptop next to him to the ice cream mess at the entrance and then back again.
“This is not good. This is never good,” he whispers.
Jack squeezes Sam’s hand until he finally looks away from the wreckage. “It can be. Don’t you see, Sam? We finally have a way to face Michael.”
Sam’s eyes roll back and Jack squeezes again. “I know you’re scared, but I’m here to help you, just like you helped me. Remember what you said to me, Sam? The choice is up to you what you do with your powers. And I know you can be good.”
He can sense the panic and the fear, but Jack has faith in Sam. This is something that he can finally help with, something the two of them can use when they catch Michael and maybe, just maybe, rescue Dean. He smiles and helps Sam to his feet.