Title: From Yesterday
Characters: Dean, Sam, and OCs
Disclaimer: They're not mine. More's the pity. Title is from a 30 Seconds to Mars song of the same name. Rated very much PG-13 for language (mostly Dean) and a couple of mature scenes
Summary: See Prologue.Part 2: Chapter 10-B
Stella bought the first round of drinks.
That cemented Dean's approval as he watched his brother grin sloppily behind the bar, his friends toasting his birthday with pints of Ad Astra and Copperhead, local beers brewed by Freestate. Dean sat off to the side, a comfortable observer as the after-hours crew celebrated his brother's birthday.
"How old are you, Sam?" asked a bearded bartender as he slid another pint Sam's direction. "Should I card you for this one?"
"Today," Sam said, holding up the pint of beer in a salute to the friends, "I am twenty-eight years old."
His friends laughed, and cheered, everyone downing half their pints in a gulp. Dean started to count heads, wondering how many he'd have to drive home at this rate. Stella, he saw, wasn't drinking quite as much or quite as fast. And the way she was watching Sam felt oddly like she was trying to fill up her eyes with him.
One last look.
"Last year," Sam continued. "I was in a…a bad place." He looked around, his hazel eyes serious. "I had made some bad choices and I…I almost lost my brother because of it."
Sam found Dean with his roaming eyes and Dean lifted his chin, letting his brother ramble and trying not to think of the church where he'd found Sam, Lilith, and Ruby. Trying not to think of the complete terror they'd each felt the moment they realized Lucifer was rising from his Cage.
"But he found me," Sam continued, raising his glass. "He found me and he hauled my ass outta that bad place. And because of that…and so many other things he's saved me from…today? I am twenty-eight years old."
Dean found himself very quickly moved from comfortable observer to center of attention. He tried not to visibly sweat.
"To Dean!" Stella called first.
Five voices echoed her and everyone raised what was left of their pints. When all had finished their drinks, Dean slapped a fifty dollar bill on the counter.
"Next few rounds are on me," he said, grinning at Sam.
"You're my favorite brother, man!" A blond with mutton chops yelled down the bar to Dean.
Dean tipped him a two-fingered salute. He was pretty sure this one was Brian. Or maybe Brad? He wasn't really great at keeping Sam's friends straight.
"What was your favorite birthday, Sam?" asked Stella.
Dean watched his brother, wondering what he'd say – especially considering the world had started to soften around the edges a bit if the way Sam was leaning against the bar was any indication.
"Besides this one?" Sam asked, his smile only for her.
"Besides this one," Stella confirmed.
"I got three," he said.
"Let's hear 'em," called a tattooed man – Ryan, Dean was pretty sure – sitting on a stool near Sam, his feet up on the edge of the bar.
"My sixth, my thirteenth, and my twenty-first."
Dean tilted his head at those choices. He wasn't there for Sam's twenty-first, that had been while he was at Stanford, and Dean was willing to bet Jessica had something to do with that one. But his sixth—
"Okay, now tell why," Stella pressed.
"My sixth was my first birthday cake," Sam said. "My brother made it and it tasted like shit, but it had Star Wars action figures on it."
Stella glanced down at Dean. "How old were you?"
"Ten," Dean said, smiling. He remembered that cake. "I only had two eggs," he explained. "And I stole the action figures."
The group laughed, though some looked like they weren't sure if they should believe him.
"On my thirteenth birthday, we set off fireworks," Sam said, his eyes on Dean. "Some random clearing somewhere…I don't even know where."
"It was around here, I think," Dean supplied.
"And Dean just hauls out this box of fireworks. No idea where he got 'em."
Ryan, the tattooed guy, called to Dean. "Contraband?"
"Something like that," Dean agreed.
"What about your twenty-first?" Stella asked.
"Yeah," Sam blushed, then took another long drink. "That's a story for another time."
"Bet I can guess in two words," his bearded friend said. He counted off the words on his fingers, "Got. Laid."
Sam finished his beer and slammed the pint glass down on the counter while his friends roared in laughter around him. The laughing continued, though the drinks tapered off. Dean could see that Sam wasn't drunk, but was very clearly comfortably numb. As the stories turned toward topics Dean knew nothing about, he wandered outside, thinking he'd let Sam spend a bit of time with just his friends, and ran into one of the guys out on the smoking deck.
"Sorry, man," Dean held up his hands, skirting the lit cigarette.
"Dude, no, I'm sorry," the guy replied. "Wasn't paying attention. Name's Kirk."
Kirk huffed out a laugh. "No introduction necessary, dude. Everyone in there knows who you are. Half of their girlfriends know who you are."
Dean pulled his brows together. "Why would their girlfriends know me?"
Kirk rolled his eyes and almost giggled. "Because you're hot."
"Uh, okay…," Dean shifted slightly away, keeping a false smile plastered on.
Kirk outright laughed that time. "No worries, man. I'm not hitting on you. I've got my set up and it's solid. I'm just telling you what those guys hear from their honeys every time you come in here to meet Sam."
"You got that whole bad boy image going for you. Air of mystery and all that. I'm telling you, if you wanted to get laid, there'd be a line down the block."
Dean shook his head. This was the weirdest conversation he'd ever had. And that included the time he and Bobby debated the best way to skin a dragon. Self-consciously, Dean rubbed at the scars around his eye.
"You got those at Stull, right?"
Dean frowned, dropping his hand. "How'd you know that?"
"Sam," Kirk tilted his head back toward the door. "Said you fought off the guy that attacked you guys and shot him."
"Right," Dean bobbed his head. "I kinda…forget sometimes."
"Yeah, I'd probably block that shit out, too," Kirk nodded, then finished his cigarette in one long drag, crushing the butt under the toe of his Converse sneaker. "Heading back in. You coming?"
"Uh, no, thanks," Dean smiled. "I'll just wait out here for Sam."
As Kirk waved goodbye, Dean moved closer to the street, leaning against one of the young trees that lined Massachusetts. It was too late for the usual pulse of people on the sidewalks, and just late enough for the clubbers to slip from side door to side door.
He looked up at the stars, realizing that he'd officially been in one place long enough to catch on to the habits of the population. It had been a long time since he'd been able to say when the streets would be busy.
He turned at the sound of his brother's voice.
"Hey," he greeted. "You drink the place dry?"
Sam shook his head, a sad smile ghosting his face. "You ready to head home?"
"Thought you'd be going to Stella's," Dean replied, confused.
"Yeah, I was, but," Sam cleared his throat, looking down. "She got some news earlier."
Dean stepped forward, his face pulling into a frown. "What's going on, Sam?"
"She, uh…," Sam looked up, a forced smile pulling at his lips. "She got an offer on the building she owns. The one with the club and her brother's old apartment? It's a lot of money."
"And she's thinking of taking it…and leaving Lawrence."
"Oh," Dean said, feeling himself deflate on his brother's behalf. "Oh, man, I'm sorry."
"She hasn't made up her mind," Sam said. "She's…she's wanting to know if there's a reason she should stay."
Dean nodded, unsure how to help his brother with this one. Even without the threat of an unbalanced normal constantly hanging over his head, giving a girl a reason to stay was a big commitment. And not one Dean was in any way equipped to help his brother deal with.
"Kind of a shitty thing to find out on your birthday," he offered.
Sam shrugged, looking all of twelve. "She told me yesterday, but…," he looked up and away from Dean. "I didn't know what to say. So I told her I'd tell her tonight."
"And, did you?"
Sam shook his head. "I played like I was too drunk. She said she'd call me tomorrow."
Sam looked down, toeing the sidewalk with the tread of his boot.
"You want to walk for a bit?" Dean offered.
Sam looked out, then up. "You really think that clearing where we set off fireworks was around here?"
Dean nodded. He knew exactly where it was.
"Can we go there?"
"Sure, Sammy." Dean smiled.
They walked toward the Impala which was sitting like a protective gargoyle on the nearly-deserted street.
"Think regular life is this hard for people who live it all the time?"
Dean was quiet for a few heartbeats. "I think life is hard. Regular or otherwise."
"Yeah." Sam's tone was resigned.
"But…I also think," Dean continued, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his green jacket, bouncing his shoulder off of Sam to get a reaction, "that if it wasn't hard…it wouldn't be any fun."
Sam huffed out a laugh. "You got a weird definition of fun."
"I also got a fifth of Jack and three bottle rockets in the Impala."
"Liquor and explosives," Sam laughed. "Now that's a birthday."
Dean climbed behind the wheel, pointedly ignoring the little voice in his head that said it was too dark, he couldn't see, this wasn't smart. He drove to the clearing out near Clinton Lake and shut off the lights, letting the radio play. Ted Nugent's Stranglehold offered a soundtrack for their celebratory illegal acts, making Dean smile as the grinding beat brought back memories of other times, other clearings, other birthdays.
Sam pulled the bottle rockets out of the back and they moved around to the front of the car.
There was the normal life everyone else lived, Dean thought as he watched his brother set up the first rocket, and then there's our lives.
The rocket exploded in a shower of lights, dazzling Dean's eyes and illuminating Sam's grin.
"Hook, hook, jab, jab…cross! Hook, cross! Jab, jab, jab…cross!"
Sam slouched on the cot in Mason's back room, texting with Stella as Dean worked the heavy bag. He'd ended up at the shop after his run and decided to just wait out Dean's work out time and catch a ride back home with his brother. He'd started running around the first of the year, finding the constant movement soothing to his jumbled nerves and the exercise sufficient to keep his muscles toned, his body in check as he consciously transitioned from having to be constantly in fight or flight mode to having to be in steady-state mode.
Ryan – one of his friends from Freestate – had encouraged him to start lifting weights to help repair the muscles damaged in his shoulder and between that and the six to eight miles he ran every day, Sam was in more than decent shape.
The sound of gloves hitting the leather bag intermingled with Mason's barked commands. The radio in the garage blared Linkin Park's Papercut and Sam unconsciously mouthed the words as he scrolled through his recent texts with Stella. He could hear Dean puffing out breaths, grunting as he put more force behind one punch than another.
Glancing up, he saw the sweat coating his brother's face, but knew that he was far from done. Dean could go at this for hours if Mason pushed him. The months he'd been working at Mason's garage had toned Dean, building muscle and balance, turning his left hand into a weapon, and training his right to support. Though Sam doubted Dean would ever truly regain the same weight and muscle-tone he'd had before Stull, what he'd managed to replace it with kept his brother healthy and strong.
Dean was thinner – his hips narrow, his body basically muscle and bone – but Sam saw that as his brother turned and twisted in obedience to Mason's commands, the muscles along his ribs and back were tight and toned, ready to keep him going and able to protect him against possible attack – supernatural or otherwise.
Sam had seen his brother manage to bend the tips of his fingers – just enough to load a clip into a gun for the shooting range – and with a boxing glove on he could wale on the leather bag. But without the protection of the glove or the caution of Mason's watchful eye, whenever Dean would attempt to use his hand, he'd go pale and his entire arm would start trembling. Dean had described it as crushing glass in his palm, and to Sam it looked exactly like that.
It had taken nearly six months, but Sam realized he'd actually stopped constantly worrying about his brother's well-being. Physically, at least.
The nightmares were another story.
Dean hadn't had another break like the one back in February – and both Mason and Sam had managed to keep anything triggery like the dead deer away from him – but Sam was never really sure how much his brother slept. Even with the music bringing him back and grounding him, Sam was often startled awake in the night by a cry of fear from his brother's room.
"You gotta bob and weave, bob and weave," Mason was shouting. Sam could see Dean duck and shift, moving around the bag as if the thing had the ability to hit back.
The only thing Sam had been able to do to help with Dean's apparent – and undiagnosed – PTSD had been to not bring up anything about the amulet or Rufus' theory of it being bound to Dean. They'd used their connection a couple of times, but outside of that, it was as if nothing were different about his brother. Sam felt a bit like he was holding his breath, waiting for when the angels would descend and grab Dean away, claiming him as one of them.
Sam felt his phone vibrate with another text from Stella, and smiled as he read her suggestion for their time together that night. She'd accepted the offer on her building and had decided to leave town, but without a direction to go, the departure was a slow one. She had options in several different locations; after talking through it with Dean, Sam had decided that the better tactic was using his road trip experience to help her pick the best place for her rather than trying to convince her to stay.
It wasn't like he wanted her to leave, but, as Dean put it, if Sam kept her here on a what if chance for something permanent with them, she would always wonder. And it wasn't like they weren't familiar with the road; Sam could always visit. Stella had responded with such immense relief by Sam's offer of help, she'd seemed to delay her departure inevitably, content with growing closer to Sam and learning – bit by bit – more about his tangled past.
When the call came in, Sam ignored it in lieu of replying back to Stella first. Once he hit send, though, he pulled up the voice mail that had been left. He didn't recognize the number, but the area code was somewhere in Colorado. His first thought was that Rufus needed something. He put the phone to his ear, eyes on Dean and Mason as he listened.
Sam – this is Virgil.
He jerked the phone away from his head as if it burned him. Hearing that voice – a voice he would have been willing to swear he'd never hear again – rattled him to his boots. He stood up from the cot and began to pace, replaying the message.
Listen, I'm sorry; I don't know if you even kept up hunting after your brother died, but…I need your help. It's about Brenna. I wouldn't call if it weren't important, but believe me…there is literally no one else I can call about this.
He played it once more time, before looking over at Dean. His brother had his gloves up, his eyes on the bag, his body taut, coiled as he followed Mason's barked instructions.
If I did have a choice in all of this, I would choose to find you.
Sam swallowed, waiting. Dean caught his gaze and straightened, his gloves coming down as he stared, puzzled, across the small room.
And I'd choose to stay this time.
"Dean, uh…," Sam shoved his hand through his hair, dreading his next words. Especially after he'd demanded no secrets. After he demanded Dean try to have a normal life. After Dean had turned himself inside out to keep his promise. "We need to talk."
Continued in Part Two: Chapter 11.
a/n: Everything changes from here. I hope you're still intrigued enough to continue.
Just a note about the mythology and explanation surrounding the amulet – I took some from Wikipedia, some from superwiki, and made the rest up. It's a total amalgamation of fact and fiction. So, if it doesn't follow your thinking as to the significance of the amulet, I hope you can roll with it for the sake of this story. There's more for the boys to learn about their 'connection' in the chapters to come.