Sam tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable on the extra-firm mattress that had been in the room when he and Dean and moved into the Bunker all those years ago. Dean kept bugging him to get a new one but he continued finding reasons to put it off. They weren't hurting for funds AS much as they used to be, thanks to a few artifacts he’d auctioned off online as well as Charlie, (THEIR Charlie) showing Sam a few tips in "Creative Fundraising" as she'd called it. But even so, he didn't NEED a new mattress. It's not like the springs were poking out of this one or anything like that. It just wasn't as comfortable as Memory Foam. Which was okay. He didn't need that much extra comfort. He didn't spend that long sleeping anyway.
With a sigh he turned over again and peered at the red numbers on his alarm clock. 2:30 am. He'd be getting up in a few more hours to check on any messages that might have come in during the night from the teams out on hunts. Plus, he still had some more research to do. One group was running into some problems with some murders that weren't fitting any of the standard lore. And he was still researching ways to take out an archangel. Dean was getting more and more antsy about that. Not that he blamed him. It wasn't easy knowing that the thing that had ridden you around for a while was still out there, still causing trouble, still hurting people, and you couldn't stop it. They still didn't know WHY Micheal had just let Dean go like that. Dean didn't want to talk about that either, and again, Sam couldn't particularly blame his brother. But it still niggled at the back of his mind. Micheal never seemed to do anything without a reason.
His arm started to get sore so he shifted over onto his stomach, tucking both arms under the pillow as he tried to get his thoughts to settle. But they continued to flit around in his head like a herd of humming birds. Or would it be a flock? Did humming birds flock? That would be pretty loud. They were louder than most people realized. He remembered one time they'd been in Colorado on a case. Boulder, wasn't it? They were interviewing a witness, sitting out on her back patio, and the little jeweled things had been zipping all around them, from one feeder or brightly colored flower to another. The buzzing of their wings had almost made him think of large insects. Dean had almost swatted one, purely on instinct as it buzzed just a little too close to his head, and the nice old lady had actually hit him with a fly-swatter, scolding him for trying to hurt her babies...
...Why the hell was he thinking about hummingbirds?
Rolling back over, he looked at the clock again. 2:40.
Thing was, he was actually tired. He felt like he should be able to sleep for days he was so bone-deep weary. Not that he could. People needed him to be there, doing what he did; keeping things running. Cas and Jack were off on a small case, just a little over the border in Nebraska. Dean was about ready to jump at any sliver of a chance that came up of dealing with Michael, whether or not they could confirm it was actually a “good” chance. Ketch was still trying to track down another of those golden eggs. (Apparently, the one they'd used on Lucifer back in the day, and then handed over to Cas for safe keeping had burnt itself out on the Archangel. Now it was a pretty paper weight sitting on Storage Shelf 32-C.) Jody and the girls had just had Thanksgiving with Donna over, had invited them all too, but... there was just too much going on. Always too much going on.
At least Jack was okay though. Well, mostly okay. His soul was keeping him alive now. That was another thought that lurked at the back of Sam's mind, like a dark-colored cat hiding in the shadows, ready to pounce when you weren't looking. One of their babysitters when they were kids had had a cat like that. It’d hated Dean for some reason. Was always trying to attack his legs when he’d least expected it. Sam had managed to coax it into letting him pet it a few times. He kind of wished he could get Jack a pet. Something he could feel responsible for, that would also return his affection unconditionally. Goodness knows, the kid needed someone or something that could be there for him.
A tightness formed in Sam's chest at the thought. He WANTED to be there for Jack. He wanted to tell him that he understood, maybe better than Jack thought. He remembered being able to help people with his powers, and then not. Of feeling that helplessness when faced with a demon wearing some innocent person when once he'd been able to pull that sulfurous black smoke right out of the person without killing them. But that was all tangled up in so many other things. Things about demon blood, and the Apocalypse, and his role in it, and Lucifer and Michael, (their Michael) and... and other things. Things he wasn't ready to talk about. And Jack didn't need all of that. He still blamed himself for so many things that weren't his fault. He didn't need to hear about all the horrible things his biological father and uncle had tried to do to the world. And Sam definitely didn't want to get into what it had taken to stop them. It wouldn't help Jack to know that about Lucifer now.
And in the same vein, he wanted to explain to Jack why it was SO important to use this new magic of his sparingly. He wanted to tell him why it was imperative that he not risk his soul. Because he knew... he had two sets of memories still, of that time when his soul had been in one place, and his body and mind in another. He honestly tried not to think about either. One left him reeling in agony, even to this day, and the other left him feeling cold and hallow. But how could he possibly explain to Jack about why he'd been running around soulless for about a year and a half without explaining everything else? He wasn't even sure if he would be able to if he tried. The mind had so many layers, and those memories, both halves, he'd tried to bury as deeply as he could because his brother had been right about hell. There was no "getting over" it. It would be there, forever. It wasn't meant for mortals to comprehend, and it couldn't be fixed with some therapy and talking it out. (Or screaming it out.)
And anything else he tried to tell Jack felt like it came up short. It wasn't enough. Wasn't what he needed. Same with Dean, really. He could probably understand how his brother felt better than anyone else. But the words, or at least the right ones, always seemed to get stuck in his throat. Plus... well, some comparisons he could draw might only make Dean feel worse. He didn’t have the words to help either of them, even as he saw them both struggling, so he’d put all his efforts into helping in any practical ways that he could; making sure Jack ate right so his body would have the strength it needed, researching solutions to the Michael problem, keeping the AU Hunters organized so Dean wouldn’t have to worry as much about all the other monster problems out there, even shouldering as much of the parenting responsibilities as he could so Cas could also be there for Dean. His brother didn’t exactly have a wide support system, so he wanted to be sure he and his best friend had chances to talk. If his brother ever actually felt like talking.
2:55. Exasperated, Sam gave up and got out of bed, deciding to give the bathroom a visit. Then maybe he'd find some boring lore to read.
After washing his hands a few minutes later, he started wandering in the general direction of the library. He paused for a moment as a yawn nearly dislocated his jaw, then noticed light coming from under and around a door that was just barely cracked open. He glanced at the room number but something about it... he shook his head abruptly, trying to clear it. It was like when he'd been up WAY too long, and he'd read the same passage in a book over and over again and none of the information would sink in. He hadn't thought anyone else was up...
"Um, hello?" He knocked tentatively on the door, but there was no answer. Opening it cautiously, he peered inside and raised his eyebrows a little. It was a room with the same concrete and brick walls and tile floor as most of the ones there, but where most had a utilitarian, or stuffy feel, this was... cozy. Set into the far wall was a fireplace of green marble that had white and black veins running through it, and a fire was already flickering inside behind a brass screen. Next to it was a coordinating brass bin that held extra wood and on the other side were some fireplace tools. In front of it on the floor was a braided rug in autumn colors upon which sat a comfortable looking armchair, complete with footstool and a small table next to it. The lamps scattered throughout the room gave off just enough light to make it feel inviting without being too bright. His eyes were next drawn to a bookshelf just to the right of the door against the wall. He barely noticed the door closing behind him as he moved to inspect it more closely, finding quite a few titles that he'd often intended to read just for the fun of it but for one reason or another had never gotten around to.
Well, he'd been looking for some way to get his mind to settle... Smiling, he pulled one from the shelf. Its cover was a faded red, almost the color of creamy tomato soup, and on the front in friendly, inviting letters was printed "The Marvelous Land of Oz". Stepping over to the armchair, he settled down into it with a contented sigh. It was comfortable. Really comfortable, considering he usually found it difficult to find chairs that actually fit his long legs and torso just right. A soft, plaid blanket that he hadn't noticed before was slung over the back and he pulled it forward, draping it over his legs before propping them up on the footstool. The lamp on the little table next to him gave off just the right amount of light; enough so he could read easily without straining his eyes, but not so bright as to be glaring. Comfortable now, he opened the book and began reading, the delightful prose helping his thoughts to calm their constant whirling.
Sam was just about to start into Chapter 10, "The Journey to the Tin Woodman" when he realized he was a bit thirsty. Dreading the long trip to the kitchen when he was already so comfortable, he almost considered ignoring his thirst for now when his attention was caught by a small but serviceable looking wet-bar against the far wall, made of the deep, rich mahogany that much of the furniture in the Bunker seemed to have been fashioned from. Strange... he hadn't noticed it earlier. But, he thought to himself, he hadn't really looked THAT hard at that particular wall either. Standing up and stretching, he then padded over to it, finding everything in good (and clean,) condition. He considered some of the alcohol that was available but wound up going with just some ice water (yeah, that was fresh ice in the bucket,) for now.
As he sipped the water he took a moment to really look around the room. It had a few wall-hangings, giving the place some color without being jarring to the eyes. Most were replicas (he figured) of old tapestries. There were also a few oil paintings of pastoral settings. In one of the closer corners was an old-time gramophone, the brass edging on the black, lacquered bell gleaming warmly in the firelight. Curious, he set his glass down and walked over to it, examining it carefully. It seemed like it might be in working order. Opening the wood-inlaid cabinet it was sitting on, he found an array of discs for it. Flipping through them idly at first, he paused when he came to one titled “Assorted works by Bach”. A soft smile pulled at his lips and he nodded a little to himself as he straightened back up again. Bach had always appealed to him; something about the precision and purity of the music helped him relax in ways that few other things could. After a few moments he got it working and soon the strains of two violins could be heard coming from the antique music player. He set the volume down low, not wanting to awaken Dean, then took his water back to his chair.
As he sat back down again a feeling of peace seemed to settle over him. A cork coaster was sitting on the small table next to the lamp, (had it been there before?) ready for his glass, and as he leaned into the supportive padding of the backrest, he felt it give way just a bit, and the entire back began to lean back with just a little intentional pressure applied.
If he thought about it... this room kind of made him think of the "Dean Cave". In the way that the "Dean Cave" was the ideal place for his brother to sit back and really relax, this place was ideal for him. Had Dean put this together for him? He was pretty sure they'd found every room to be found in the Bunker, and he would have remembered one like this. And honestly, Dean HAD put his own rec-room together entirely without Sam noticing. With a shrug, he decided he'd ask him about it in the morning. For now, he wanted to get back to his book. Pulling the blanket back over his legs again, he picked it up and delved into the next chapter.
Ten minutes later he was blinking as he tried to keep his eyes open, the lower sounds of a cello now reaching him from the far corner.
Twenty minutes later he was snoring softly, the book resting open across his chest. Gradually, the lights in the room seemed to dim, even the fire itself burning down low to just some softly glowing coals which kept the room comfortable but not too hot. The seat reclined back further and Sam sighed, unconsciously pulling the blanket up closer in his sleep.
“Where the hell is he?!” Dean yelled. Again.
If Castiel weren’t just as worried as Dean, he might have found himself annoyed at his friend’s constant repetition of the same question which obviously still didn’t have an answer. But, the angel WAS worried. “I don’t know Dean. We’ve searched every room in the Bunker. We even found a few previously undiscovered ones.”
“And none of the cars are missing.” Jack added in, holding up a clipboard with a sign-out sheet, listing all the vehicles the Bunker crew had. Included were the antique ones left over from the previous Men of Letters as well as the random stolen or otherwise obtained ones used for the various other Hunters who came and went. Sam had put it together some while ago when most of the AU Hunters were still using the Bunker as their base of operations. It had made things much less confusing when trying to figure out what was available for supply runs and what was being prepped for going out on hunts. Jack had thought of checking it to see if anything was missing that shouldn’t be. “All the ones not here were signed-out a while ago by people out on long-distance hunts. So, he didn’t leave by one of our cars.”
“It’s been THREE days!” Dean yelled, his voice a bit rough. He’d been doing a lot of yelling for the past two. “His phone’s still here. His clothes are still here. His laptop’s still here. Looks like his bed was slept in. But no Sammy.”
Cas and Jack both nodded. They’d heard the litany of things-not-missing since Dean had called them about two and a half days ago. They had just been wrapping up the hunt they were on anyway, so they’d made their best speed possible back to the Bunker. (Cas didn’t usually like to go over the speed limit by THAT much, but they had mainly been traveling country backroads that were mostly deserted. And Sam was missing. Neither he nor Jack had debated the urgency of the situation.) When they’d arrived Dean had already searched the place high and low, but they’d all done another, even more thorough search; not just looking for Sam himself, but for any clues as to his mysterious disappearance. Little to nothing had been discovered though. There were no signs of blood or other injury, and as Dean had just said, none of the usual personal items were missing that Sam would normally take with him if he were leaving of his own accord. (And with his cell phone there in his room on his nightstand, they couldn’t try tracking him with that.) He hadn’t left by car, or at least, not by any of their cars. None of the warding had been tampered with, nothing looked odd or disturbed outside the bunker, and Castiel hadn’t sensed any odd energies or residues that weren’t normally there. It was like the younger Winchester brother had simply vanished.
He was trying to remain calm for both Dean and Jack’s sakes, but the truth was, all of them were very worried.
“Alright,” came the thick, brogue-accented voice of the most powerful witch any of them knew personally. (And fortunately for them, she had been feeling heavily inclined towards helping them in the past several years, especially, the angel had noticed, if it had anything to do with Sam.) “I think I’ve gotten all the things I’ll need. Now, if ye’ll all just clear one o’ these tables, I’ll get this set up.”
Usually ready for a snappy comeback, Dean instead set right to work clearing-off the table in the middle; the one that had his and Sam’s initials carved into it. Cas and Jack moved to help him with it.
Rowena set down the large bronze bowl she’d been carrying and began removing items from it: several different candles, a mortar and pestle, a silk cloth in which some various herbs were wrapped, a box of matches, and a few other bottles with different liquids or other substances. Her hand brushed briefly over Sam’s initials as she considered them. “Did he by chance carve these by his own hand? Or did ye each carve each other’s?”
Dean looked up briefly, apparently taken off-guard by the question, but noticing that she seemed to be asking in seriousness, he shrugged and shook his head. “Naw, we each carved our own.”
She nodded firmly and began pouring ingredients into the bowl. “Wonderful. I can use that as a focus.” Noting everyone’s perplexed expressions, she rolled her eyes a bit. “Think of it like a lightnin’ rod. Since he carved it, it’ll help draw the energies I’ll be usin’ t’ scry for him. Now, Dean, did ye get a hair or fingernail or somethin’ like that of his like I asked ye to?”
Dean paused in his pacing, nodding as he fished a small envelope out of his pocket. “Yeah, found a few hairs on his pillow.”
Rowena accepted them while Cas and Jack stood a bit to the side, watching curiously. Setting them carefully aside for the moment, she went to work grinding the herbs.
“Thar we go, I think we’re about ready.” Straightening up, she looked over her work again and nodded before waving an elegantly manicured hand at Jack. “Jackie-boy, would ye be good enough to turn off the lights in here?”
Nodding, seemingly glad to have something to do, Jack moved to turn off the overhead lights then each of the various table lamps. Meanwhile, Rowena began lighting the candles which were arrayed in a particular formation around the bowl with one alone, the white one, sitting directly on Sam’s initials. She lit it last, and once they were all that was illuminating the library she began chanting while methodically adding the last several ingredients. Last of all she dropped in the longish, brown hairs and the white candle flared brightly. Cas noticed that everyone, including himself, seemed to lean in closer, uncertain as to whether it was working or not. Rowena’s gaze remained fixed on the white candle, her brows slowly furrowing.
“I don’t like that look…” Dean grumbled under his breath.
The red-head seemed to ignore him for several minutes as the candle flame alternately flared high then down low, almost winking out altogether. Eventually, it grew steady and even and Rowena blew out an exasperated sigh. “Well… that could’a been more helpful…”
“What? What’d you find out?” the anxiety that had gripped Dean since his brother’s disappearance plain as day in his voice.
“Well…” she paused for a moment, seeming to be gathering her thoughts more than any attempt at drama. “I found out that he’s alive, first and foremost.”
The relief Castiel felt was clearly shared with the other two, if their expressions were anything to go by. “But,” she added, holding up her hand to forestall comments, “I canna tell where he is. At all. Well, he’s somewhere on Earth, I can say THAT at least. And that he doesn’a seem in bad health. But wherever he is, it’s blockin’ any attempts at findin’ him.”
Dean sunk into one of the chairs, a defeated look on his face.
Jack looked over at Cas, raising an eyebrow questioningly. The angel shook his head though. “I already tried contacting Naomi. Apparently, I’ve “used-up my favors” in Heaven at the moment. And besides, the Enochian sigils I carved into his ribs a while back would prevent him from being found by angelic means.”
Jack nodded, though his brows scrunched up in puzzlement. “Why would you have-”
“Jack.” Dean’s voice, though not raised like it had seemed to be a lot lately, still held a note of command. “ So not the time for that conversation.”
Jack sighed but nodded, his shoulders drooping as a feeling of despondence seemed to settle over him as well.
Rowena, who’d begun blowing out candles and packing up the supplies after turning on the nearest lamp now paused to rest a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Don’a forget, wherever he is, he’s alive and he’s well. We know that much at least. Now, all we can do is wait an hope he returns.
Jack nodded slowly, though he felt a burning in his eyes that had nothing to do with the wisps of smoke rising from the extinguished candles. “But… what if he doesn’t?”
Rowena tried to smile encouragingly, but even she couldn’t keep the sadness from her eyes. She didn’t have an answer for him, so she just gave him another squeeze before going back to clearing-up.
Sam yawned and stretched, slowly waking up. As he did so, the lamps in the room gradually brightened and the fire flickered back to life, crackling merrily by the time he’d opened his eyes. Though he was completely comfortable, he also felt fully rested and sat up, the armchair reassuming its original configuration. At some point in the night he must have put the book on the small table because there it sat with a bookmark in it, next to the glass of still cold water. Feeling a bit thirsty, he drank down the rest of it before standing up and stretching, hearing several of his vertebrae popping.
“Might have to come in here more often…” he mumbled to himself, giving the room a last fond look before opening the door and walking back into the hallway. Everything still seemed pretty quiet, so he had no idea what time it was. (He made a mental note to see about putting a clock of some kind in there, next chance he got.)
After using the bathroom he followed the smells of frying bacon and eggs towards the kitchen. Stepping down into the room, he waved casually at those gathered, mumbling out a “Mornin’ everyone.” on his way to the coffee pot, pausing when he belatedly realized that not only had Cas and Jack apparently gotten back in the night, but Rowena was there too.
He didn’t really have time to ponder that before he was attacked by three grown men (well, two grown men and one angel,) trying to hug him all at once, and everyone was yelling, and asking him questions, and he couldn’t understand any of them cause they were all talking at once, and he was feeling very confused.
“Enough!” Rowena’s commanding voice cut through everyone else’s causing them to fall silent, though no one seemed inclined to let go of Sam anytime soon. “Samuel, dear,” she inquired sweetly, “Would ye be so good as to tell us where ye’ve been fer the past FOUR days?”
Sam’s eyes widened as he looked between those hugging him and the witch. “Four…. Days?” he responded weakly. (Cas seemed to have forgotten his own strength and breathing was steadily becoming more difficult.)
The red-head rolled her eyes. “Och, will ye all let him breathe for a minute before ye suffocate the poor lad? Come on…” She tapped at various shoulders until, reluctantly, they let go of Sam who was starting to be able to breathe easier again.
Shaking his head at the shocking news, Sam moved over to the table they’d all just recently been sitting at. (Well, Cas, Jack and Rowena had been sitting at. Dean had been over by the stove cooking something.) “Dean,” he waved over towards the stove. “Think your bacon’s burning.”
Shaking his own head, his brother grumbled as he stalked back over to it. “Vanishes for days and then what does he do? Lectures me about my cooking.” There was no venom in it though. In fact, relief seemed to practically pour off of him even while doing something as simple as turning off the stove and dumping the extra-extra-crispy bacon onto a plate, which he brought over with him to the table.
While Dean was doing that, Sam did his best to collect himself as he tried to reconcile what they’d said with what he remembered. “I was here the whole time.” Reaching out, he idly took one of the pieces and began crunching on it. “In that new lounge room. Though I could swear I was just there from last night… well, early this morning really, til’ now.”
Four confused faces regarded him and he held his arms out in exasperation. “You know, that room I’m guessing you set up for me? Has a fireplace, a comfy armchair, some books, is actually decorated nice…” The faces only grew more confused and he realized now how unlikely it would have been for Dean of all people to have decorated a room like that with tasteful wall-hangings and oil paintings. “You didn’t put it together.”
It wasn’t really a question but Dean shook his head anyway.
Jack, who seemed not only confused but also getting close to irritated also shook his head. “That doesn’t make sense. We searched the whole Bunker. Several times. We looked in every room and broom closet and corner in this place.”
“Samuel,” Rowena interjected, “Why don’t ye just show us where you were?”
Nodding, Sam lead the way back down the hallway, making a few turns until he at last came to a stop outside… a mop closet? Shaking his head, he opened and closed it a couple times, but it didn’t seem inclined to change back to the cozy room he’d spent the night, (or, the last 4 days) in. “I swear, this is where it was.” He was starting to understand how Lucy from the Narnia books had felt that first time she’d stepped back through the wardrobe. Only, the time dilation seemed to run opposite in this case.
“Hold on.” Cas said, and stepped closer, opening the door again. On the inside of it was tacked an envelope of some thick, old-fashioned-looking paper. Taking it down, he turned so everyone could see it. On the outside, in neat handwriting was written:
Room of Revitalization Report
for Samuel Winchester
Men of Letters Legacy
Cas turned it over and broke the red wax seal on the back with the Aquarian Star stamped into it. Opening it, he took out a sheet of paper, also written in the same handwriting. At the top was the current date then the following message:
Four days prior, the Room of Revitalization was activated due to the physical and emotional distress of one Samuel Winchester. (MOL Legacy, descendant of Henry Winchester) As per protocol 158-B the RoR provided comfort based on Samuel’s subconscious needs, releasing him once his chronic fatigue had lessened to acceptable levels.
In order to avoid future reoccurrences of this problem, the following steps are recommended:
- Samuel should make all reasonable attempts to sleep for a minimum of 7 hours each night, though 8 would be ideal.
- His work-load should be lightened. High levels of mental stress were detected in addition to the physical fatigue.
- Several unresolved emotional issues were also detected in relation to close-working colleagues or family members, and should be discussed with them to help improve overall morale.
- Several hours each day should be set aside for leisure activities.
- It is suggested he be sure to ingest 3 nutritionally-balanced meals per day as well as keep himself hydrated.
- Attention to personal hygiene is not only good for the body, but for his and others’ morale as well.
Had matters continued unchecked, Samuel would likely have experienced a mental and/or emotional break, as well as causing physical damage from aforementioned fatigue. We hope he will take these recommendations to heart so further intervention can be avoided.
This concludes this report, and the Men of Letters hope Samuel found his stay in the Room of Revitalization enjoyable and restful.
The signature at the bottom was next to impossible to make out.
After everyone had read it, they looked back and forth between Sam and the “report”, and for his part, Sam felt his face heating with embarrassment.
After a few awkward moments, Dean cleared his throat. “So… Looks like this place has an automatic ship’s councilor and holodeck.” He winked at Sam. “Was there a hot-chick in a skin-tight grey pantsuit in there too?”
Huffing a laugh, Sam swatted at his brother, honestly grateful for the tension-release. “Yeah, you wish. Maybe your version would feature Councilor Troi.” He started walking back to the kitchen and the others followed.
Later on that day after Dean had personally seen to it that Sam ate a full breakfast and then shooed him off to the shower, they all said goodbye to Rowena then settled down in the library.
Despite Sam’s insistence that he “really was fine now” Dean, with both Cas and Jack fully backing him up, were adamant that at least some of Sam’s workload should get redistributed. By now he should know which people could be relied on to do what so he didn’t have to micromanage everything. Jack was actually very helpful with that, having several ideas as he’d been observing the AU Hunters for some while now. And after a phone conference with Maggie, she agreed to help with organizing the various hunting parties and everyone (including Dean) insisted that they would help out with research.
After that, seeming to sense that the brothers needed to talk alone, Cas offered to go with Jack on a food run and they headed out, though not without both again expressing how glad they were that Sam was back and okay.
Once the steel clang of the door heralded their departure an awkward silence fell between the two. Sam idly scraped at some wax that had dribbled onto the table, not meeting his brother’s eyes.
“Look,” they both wound up saying at the same time. After a brief chuckle, Dean gestured for Sam to go ahead. Nodding a little, the younger brother again fixed his eyes on the tabletop and the wax. “I’m sorry. Really. I know how worried you must have been.”
Dean was about to open his mouth, ask if he really did but then paused, considering, and…. Yeah. Sam would know how he’d felt. All the times Dean had died, or vanished, or been angel-napped? And then it hit him just WHAT Sam was apologizing for. “Sam. No.”
His brother looked up at that, his brows furrowed, clearly about to say something but Dean held up his hand, silently asking him to let him talk. “Look, I’m not happy that I spent four friggin’ days not knowing where the hell you were, but I’m glad it happened. Man, I know you’ve been pushing yourself. And I shoulda seen it sooner, I should have noticed how bad it was getting. And I’m glad that that “Room of Requirements” or whatever-”
“Room of Revitalization,” Sam corrected, but Dean waved it off and continued on.
“I’m glad IT at least noticed, and did something before it was too late. And… well, I want you to know, if you… you know. Need to talk…”
Sam half smiled but shook his head. “Dean… really. It’s okay. It’s just… lots of stuff is going on. I want to help Jack more, but I don’t know how. I can tell Mom’s still having problems but I don’t know how to help her either. I’m worried about whatever it is Michael is planning. I’m worried Jack’s going to run into problems eventually with his soul.”
Dean didn’t miss the expression that flashed across his brother’s face for just a moment there, that almost haunted look. He’d never really asked him what all he remembered from being soulless, but it was at times like these when he figured it was more than probably either of them would like. He was also aware of the one thing Sam wasn’t saying, the one person in his list of people he was worried about that he hadn’t mentioned. And he could pretty-well guess why.
Ever since Dean had come back, his possession, what he’d actually experienced and even more so how he felt about it, had been the proverbial elephant in the room with them. He knew Sam wanted him to talk about it, and he had to an extent… but he was also painfully aware of certain aspects of the whole situation that neither of them had come close to addressing; aspects of it that he tried to avoid even thinking about. Because even more so than the horror of what he’d experienced at Michael’s hands, what really got to him, and what lay curled somewhere deep in his gut was the knowledge now of just WHAT it was that he’d done to his brother all those years ago. But he knew Sam would never press him about it, and he just… he couldn’t talk about it. He still couldn’t talk about it.
So, taking a deep breath, he nodded. “Yeah, I get all that. Some of it you can’t really help with though, as much as you want to. Some people… well, they have to figure out their own shit, you know?” He met his brother’s eyes, hoping he’d hear what he wasn’t saying. “Sometimes, even if you know what someone else is going through, they still have to go through it on their own. They have to find their own ways to deal with it. But trust me… They know you care.”
Sam met his gaze and slowly nodded, letting what was unspoken remain that way.
Dean managed a half smile though. “But hey, maybe with Jack you two should go do something together. Hang out. Remind him that you aren’t just the “Rules Dad”, but the one who seems to really get him.”
Sam nodded, returning the half smile, though it seemed genuine. “Yeah… I think that sounds like a good idea.”
“Also,” Dean leveled a stern look at his little brother, “under absolutely NO circumstances are you to get anything less than 7 hours of sleep a night.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “Oh come on, 6 is standard for hunters. And I can make due on 5 without problems.”
“Nuh-uh.” Dean was already shaking his head. “I’ll have Cas knock you out if I have to, but you’re getting your sleep. We’re not risking this happening again.”
“Well, what about you then?” Sam raised an eyebrow.
“What about me?” Dean tried to look innocent but he had a feeling it wasn’t really working.
“Come on Dean, you barely get 4 hours if you’re lucky.”
“Hey, I’m not the one the Room of Recharging or whatever-”
“Right, I’m not the one it cherry-picked for some enforced R&R…”
Their debate continued on in typical sibling fashion, but it was clear that most of the tension in the situation, at least for now, had been released. The spellwork that had been laid into the very walls of the Bunker long ago reverted back to its dormant phase as the crisis threatening one of its inhabitants was averted for the time being. But it would activate again if the need ever arose. Because Men of Letters tended to be a stubborn lot, and working themselves into the ground seemed to be a universal trait among them, which was why the room had been conceived in the first place. The Bunker watched over its own.