Not Ever Gonna Cut You Out
Bobby knows Sam Winchester. He knows how Sam used to work things out in his head by doing layups. And after being re-souled Sam has to work out his toughest problem yet...dealing with forgiveness.
Don't Own 'em, Just Love 'em. Wished ta hell I worked for Kripke
Sam had always preferred to think things over while being physical. It was like he needed to keep his body busy while his mind worked stuff out. His mode of choice was lay ups. His brother, Dean, would take the munitions apart and clean them then maybe shoot stuff to target practice until the final piece of the problem fell into place but Sam needed the graceful pace of the set up, leap and careful aim to focus his mind.
I'd built 'em a regulation basketball court out behind the house, a special one, just for the boys to use when they were growing up. Beneath the tarmac I'd laid warding sigils and devils traps in the ground then poured and spread out the asphalt over 'em. The court was as safe as hallowed ground or as Dean used to kid, "as holy as 'The Boston Garden' domain of the Celtics as blessed a basketball team as any in the league." But the most frequent user of the court had always been Sam.
And over the years I grew to understand, just by listening to Sam running and laying up the shots, how far along in the deduction process he was by the sounds from the court. It didn't matter what the problem was Sam was trying to solve. Whether it was determining what kind of critter they were after or more weighty matters, like gettin' the courage up to ask Cindy Mason, from his debate team in high school, out for a date or the dark hours of deliberation that kid'd poured into trying to Break the Deal Dean had made.
The process was always the same.
"Bobby! I'm go'in out to shoot some hoops." The boy would yell over to me when ever the kid hit a stalemate in his research. And I'd go back to my own studies while half listenin' to the boy run the ball up and down the court.
At first Sam would always be in a burst of raw energy. Dribbling fast and slam dunking the shots. The kid could have easily made any dam good varsity team in high school as a star player but they never stayed around long enough for him to be around when the coaches picked their teams.
I'd hear the pace of near gallop at first, the thuds of the dribbles being bounced rapid fire down the length of the court eventually turn to a more easy lope and then silence during the leap and the soft bump as the ball hit the sweet spot on the backboard then swoosh! The kid never missed.
After a time the sounds changed from stepthud...stepthud...stepthud...step...(silence)-bump swoosh...thud step. To: thud thud stepthud..step thud...step...(silence)-bump swoosh..thud. which meant the question in the boys mind was coalescing. He'd begun to eliminate all the other logical possibilities.
As that boy's mind began to turn the seed of an idea around in his head the dribbling would be concentrated to just under the hoop and I'd hear:
thud...thud...thud...thud ( silence) bump swoosh thud. Step... thud...thud...thud...thud (silence)bump swoosh thud. Which meant Sammy'd narrowed his concentration down to the final process. This last phase could last a few minutes or a half an hour but the out come would always be the same. Sam would have his answer, he'd have figured it out.
Step..thud...thud...thud ( silence)bump swoosh thud. Step thud...thud...thud (silence)bump swoosh-thud. Step thud...thud...thud ( silence)bump swoosh-thud. And suddenly there would be silence and the next sound I'd hear was the back door swing open and Sam would burst into the room and dive at his laptop to confirm his suspicions.
"Knew it !" he'd say and turn to me to explain the answer. It always made me kinda proud that the boy had that much respect for my own experience that he'd want to include me in his findings. And each new discovery by him was like a shiny trophy the way that boy'd grin.
I know this kid. I know him by the way he carefully worked out the research on the hunts, by the way his big heart got worn all too vulnerably on his sleeve when he went face to face with people. The Sam I know cared about them. Even though in most cases they'd never see those same faces again, I knew that kid agonized over the losses and yearned to reach out and comfort the survivors. He didn't have to, but he'd never been able to fully distance himself, like doctors do, from the pain that he witnessed everyday in his profession.
That was the man I've come to know as Sam. And when I'd gotten demon possessed and said such hateful things to him; such awful lies like Sam had crossed some line that had made him unfit to be loved by me like a son, god... I remembered the look of hurt that crossed that boy's face even while I was under demonic influence. And I'd made damn sure the first thing I said to him after I'd killed that evil bastard inside me and was back to myself again was to promise that boy that no matter what he did I'd never cut him outta my life.
And with that memory rose another, the last time I'd heard Sam on the court.
It was almost a year and a half ago. While Dean and I were in the house with an angel of the Lord weighing our options on how to best trap the devil. I'd heard the sound of Sam outside practicing layups to focus his mind and mentally prepare himself to say "yes" to Lucifer, "yes" to jumping into hell, "yes" to the only way to save the world.
And now I'm sittin' in my kitchen wonder'n, no pray'in that I'll see some sign of that same kid again when Sam wakes with his soul back in place.
Ever since Death had pushed the shiny orb of Sam's soul back into his screaming body the boy had been hardest part was 'What if?' Death had left us with only a 75 percent guarantee that the wall he'd put inside the kids head would hold and keep Sam from reliving his time in the pit once he did wake up. And I watched as Dean got this look on his face, this look of cold fear and went out to the car and brought the Colt inside. We stared at each poor boy had the most sorrowful face I'd seen on him since that time in Cold Oak when he was grievin' over Sam's body.
He looked at me and said with a choke in his voice, "Last thing my dad ever told me...just be fore he died was...that I had to try and save Sam...but if I couldn't... then I might have to..." and he glanced down at the Colt in his hand. Then he bit his bottom lip and took a deep breath and looked at me as if he wanted me to take all this away from him, dammit. I couldn't say a dam thing. If the wall fell that Death had put in Sam's head and hell overtook him Dean was prepared to put his brother to rest and send his soul to heaven if Sam woke up screaming and his body started to bubble and melt right before his eyes.
And that thought alone froze M' heart.
I just nodded and turned away and listened to him go slowly down the stairs. I knew that I'd loose both boys at the same time if it came to that.
Dean had kept vigil in another cot set up right beside Sam. The older Winchester had only left his sleeping brothers side for bathroom breaks. I could barely breathe with dread hanging like a dead weight over M' heart as I listened from upstairs to every creak the cots made or sound of shuffling feet as Dean paced in a circle around the sleeping form of his little brother. The wait alone was killing Dean. With me 'mother henning' upstairs, bringing down coffee which Dean drank and a sandwich or two which Dean left pretty much untouched. We both worried if we should wake Sam or let him be, but he hadn't slept since he'd gotten topside so we opted for letting his body catch up on much needed rest and to keep watch on him.
It was early in the a.m. of the third day, when Sam's eye lids fluttered and he squinted over at the body in the cot beside his. "Dean?" he said groggily.
Dean's eyes opened instantly and he saw the best sight he'd seen in almost two years, the rumpled, frazzled shape of Sam shakily trying prop himself up on one elbow in the cot beside him.
Instantly Dean became aware of the heavy weight of the Colt still in his hand and as he sat up he shoved the thing behind his back into the top of his jeans.
"Whoa, Whoa," he said as he got up and reached out to steady his brother, "Easy there don't sit up too fast and make yerself dizzy. Want a sip of water?"
Sam smiled a sleepy crooked grin up at him and said, "Water would be great." And proceeded to ease his legs over the side of the cot and slowly pushed himself up into a sitting position.
Dean grabbed a plastic bottle out of the ice chest at his feet twisted the cap off and offered it to Sam. And his brother took a couple of big swigs. As he swallowed the look of utter relief spread across his face and he gave a deep sigh. Then he he smiled again at Dean and said, "What no holy water?"
Dean smiled back and shook his head, "Naw, Bobby's got the shower rigged to dump gallons on you anyway so no worries."
Sam grinned and nodded then his face clouded over and he looked suddenly up at Dean with horrible guilt. "Bobby?"
His brother knew exactly where that look came from and hastily assured him, "Bobby's fine, worried about you too. D'ya think you can make it up the stairs?"
Sam nodded solemnly and Dean ducked his head underneath one arm, helped him stand and they made their way slowly up to the kitchen.
Every step Dean gripped Sam's side tight and pinned his hip slightly underneath his brothers so that he could guide and support Sam's every footfall on the stairs.
Sam held on to Dean and tried to watch his feet and talk to his brother at the same time and couldn't seem to do both very well.
Dean stopped and pulled Sam tighter to his side and said to him urgently "Not hell! Don't even try to Sammy, Death said he put a wall, like a barrier in that ginormous brain of yours but it will only hold hell back if you don't think of it. Don't pick at it Sam, leave it be... I begging ya... don't scratch it or try to remember anything. What's done is done. As long as you don't go poking at it you'll be fine."
Sam just looked at him puzzled.
"Promise me!" Dean gave him a squeeze for emphasis, "Promise...me."
"Sure Dean...I don't remember that...time...anyway. But.." Sam tried to turn a little more on the stair to face his brother better and they both almost lost their balance.
"Whoa there Sasquatch," Dean said as he steadied them both, "This is too small a dance floor for moves like that, let's take it upstairs ok?" and he nudged Sam to take another step up.
"kay but Dean I do remember somethings."
"Yeah? Like how amazingly more handsome I am for real than in your dreams?"
Dean could feel Sam's body tense and he heard the 'Huff' his teasing provoked, Sam shook his head "yeah..right. But seriously Dean...I remember..."
At that moment they hit the top stair and with the next step they were standing in Bobby's kitchen.
"Hey Bobby!" Dean yelled and I came rushing in from the other room. "Wanna say 'hi' to sleeping beauty?"
I swear to God the sight of them two rumpled and swayin' under eachothers weight was the best sight these ol' eyes have ever seen. It only took two breaths before I was squeezin' the both of them in the tightest bear hug I never had known I could give!"
After some gentle back slapping the owner of Singer's salvage stepped back and wiped his eyes saying, "Well aren't you a sight!" Then, "Dean let the boy sit down won't cha?"
"It's alright Bobby," Sam humbly said, "I should probably try to make it to the can anyway."
"Right, right." I agreed said then to Dean, "Well boy don't drop him along the way, go on now!"
Dean grinned and said to Sam under his breath, "It's like he's the cheerleader to us running the three legged race."
Sam grinned and joked back, "Don't make me laugh, not now wait till I get out, man."
And Dean knew he had him back. Sammy was back.
As soon as Sam was safely in the downstairs bathroom Dean yelled through the closed door, "Sam! Take a shower dude, you reek! I'm gonna grab some clean clothes for you."
From the other side of the door Dean heard Sam say, "You're no rose petal yourself, I'll try to save ya some hot water when I'm done."
"Yeah, that's just manly musk, sorry we don't have any of that girly shampoo you like you'll have to use Bobby's essence of ol' fart." Dean kidded.
"I heard that!" I growled, "If you must know that's expensive imported body wash my neighbor lady gave to me for Christmas...don't use it all up on me!"
Out of Bobby's sight Dean looked at the bathroom door at the same time Sam looked at it from his side and they both wore the same "Who'da thunk it?" expression on their faces.
Sam came out less rumpled, he'd even taken the time to shave. And while Dean took his turn in the shower Sam came into the kitchen and sat his big lanky form down onto one of the chairs.
"How's something easy on your stomach sound?" I asked him.
Sam smiled shyly and said, "Easy'd be good."
"Scrambled eggs?" I suggested.
"That'd be fine, thanks." Sam replied and looked down at the floor with his lips pursed together. And I could feel that elephant in the room start to make his appearance.
"Yeah kid?" I kept scrambling, my back to him so's he could spit it out and we could move on.
And I froze mid stir. "Dean told you about not tryin' to remember hell right?"
"Yeah, he did and I don't...I...erm...what I do remember is how I... what I tried to..."
And this time I had to turn around.
I saw Sam's pained expression and tried to stop the flow of words about to come outta the kids mouth. He was just fresh from dam near death and this rehashin' old news could wait til he had a few more days as his ol' self. So I says, "Look, it wasn't one of our stellar bonding moments but I don't blame you fer what happened..."
He stood up, took a step and reached out toward me to beg my forgiveness, "But Bobby I was gonna kill you, man!"
I reminded him I was just as ready to blow his legs out from under him at the time, so that sorta made us even.
He hung his head and mumbled, "You shoulda done it, coz I deserved that."
"Dammit all boy! Quit it! You weren't yerself." And I swear he was about to wobble on those long pins of his so I grabbed his head and made sure he was lookin' right in my eyes. "You saved us! You saved all of us...the whole freakin' world and what did you git outta it? A year and a half of being a shell, all hunter and no heart, no conscience. Now I don't know what all you did since you got topside but you weren't YOU. Leastwise the you I know, so cruel as some of them things mighta been," and I shrugged, "whatever got done, it weren't you doin' em. Get it?"
The kid's face began to crumble and he grabbed my shoulders in those giant paws of his he's got fer hands. And I felt the full weight of him lean in on me.
"But Bobby?..." his voice cracked. And that got me all choked up.
"Look, what we're gonna do right now is sit and have breakfast," I said looking as ernest as I could muster. "What's done is done but in my book we're square, you got that?"
He took a shuddering intake of breath and replied, "Yes sir."
"Don't 'Sir' me I ain't yer drill sergeant or your parole officer."
He looked down at me and I swear I saw a fleeting glimpse of the same face he'd had as a teenager all twisted up and trying to be brave in spite of the pain.
"Look at me," I says to him, "what you're gonna have to do is reconcile yerself with all those things that that shell you were did while your soul was gone. You gotta come to terms with that or it's gonna eat you alive with guilt, boy." I cupped his big face in my left hand and I told him as gently as I could, "I forgive ya, Dean forgives ya we're just glad to have ya back. But we want ya whole so you gotta find a way to get right with yerself, ya hear me?"
And that's when he hugged nearly the life outta me. I felt his breath shudder and I got up the courage to pat his back. "S'okay, s'okay that's...it's alright..." The kid was a mess and I'd be dammed to have my own face crumble then who'd get us out this? Dean? Not likely, the older one s'been more EMO this past year than Sammy'd been for the past two years. And that realization made me start to feel like I'd lose it too. Because seriously, when had Sam had a break from all this demon shit-huh? Demons be dammed! He'd fought tooth and nail to do the right thing and shrug off their influence harder than any man alive. And he's never even known anything else! Even when he stumbled and was hopped up on demon blood and his conscience began to take a back seat he still fought to git himself back to his right mind. Cold turkey. That takes more courage than most. And right now holding his ginormous frame in m'arms and feeling him weep for my forgiveness after all he'd sacrificed to save the world makes me feel the smaller man by far, I'll tell you what! ... I am so damned proud to say I know Sam Winchester' And that's when I told him, "No matter what... you gotta know... I ain't never gonna cut you out of my life ya hear me son?"
That's when Dean walked in. Instantly worried and demanding to know what happened.
I told him as Sam pulled away from the hug and wiped his big hand down his face to wipe the tears away, "We decided to have scrambled eggs for breakfast."
"Uh...ok." Dean looked back and forth at us still puzzled. "I'd hate to see what effect pancakes woulda had on ya"
Sam snickered while still wiping his eyes and Dean came up to him and threw his arms around him hugging him tight. And said into his shoulder, "You good?"
Sam grinned and squeezed Dean back hard enough for him to gasp a little but they didn't let go for awhile. Finally Dean said softly, "S'good ta have ya back Sammy." And they slowly pulled away from each other and stood there.
Finally I says "If we've all had our BFF moment I still got eggs to cook and one of you two ought to butter the toast."
Dean quips, "That should be Sam coz he knows his way around all things lube like."
"Shut up!" Sam cranks back. And things settled back to as close to normal as it gets around here when those two are under this roof.
About two days of resting later I hear a sound out back that I hadn't heard in a while, the sound of the two of them running up and down the court shootin' hoops.
After about an hour Dean comes in all sweaty and outta breath to tell me he's gonna hit the shower and I ask him where's Sam?
"Ah, he says he's gotta work on some advice you gave him so I let him be to do his layups thing."
Another forty five minutes goes by and Sam makes his sweaty appearance in the back door as I'm making a pot of coffee. He pauses a minute like he wants me to notice him standing there.
"So," I says, "What are you working on?"
And he looks down at the floor and then back up at me and says, "You were right Bobby, if I'm gonna live with myself I gotta come to terms with what I did and find a way... to...forgive myself."
I couldn't help but fight the smile that tried to break my stony stare, "And how's that com'in?"
He looked over to the window that faced the court and then back at me, "I got a ways to go yet...but... I've made a start."
"Well, that's good to know, now ya better hit the showers before ya kill all our appetites for lunch! I'm buying Chinese, now go get cleaned up!"
And with a flash of dimples that I hadn't seen in nearly two years he was heading for the shower.
I know it won't happen next week or maybe in the next few but I know Sam and given enough time listening to those layups, well...I know Sam would have his answer...he'll have figured it out. He always has.