A/N: So, I'm going to blame real life for the wait between chapters. That and an inability to string these scenes together in a coherent manner. Anyways, here y'all go. Hope you enjoy it. As always, feedback is much appreciated!
"Stop slaving away over there and eat something, Sam," Dean said, waving a carton of fried rice under my nose. I wrinkled my nose and frowned at the disturbance to my work.
"What do you want to eat today, Sammy-boy? You should definitely try some of these eyeballs. They're fresh from the rack. You can almost taste the pain of having them ripped out by my pets. Mmm, tangy. Or maybe you're more in the mood to gnaw on finger bones. You really appreciated those yesterday—"
"Not hungry," I grunted, interrupting the unwelcome memory. I didn't look up from my book.
Dean sighed and made room on the chair across from me so he could sit, almost toppling a precarious pile of tomes next to the table. "You haven't stopped poring over those books all day. Only thing you've eaten was a couple bites of eggs this morning. Besides, I don't know how you can even see the words. You've had a headache for the past hour."
I jerked my hand away from my temple, only now realizing I had been trying to rub away the pain behind my eyes, and glared at my brother.
"I'm fine," I emphasized and went back to the book about the Fates, inconveniently written in Ancient Greek. Old languages are never easy, but with the persistent ache in my head it became an annoying chore.
"Sure y'are, Sammy. And I'll believe it right after you eat some food." He plunked the carton down on top of my book before standing and walking to the fridge. "Beer?"
Knowing there was no use fighting my stubborn brother, I nodded and picked up the food. "A fork too," I relented and Dean grinned at the victory.
He popped the top off two beers, grabbed a fork out of a pile on the counter, and sat back down at the table. "So what have you got so far?"
Absently taking a bite of the fried rice, and pushing away all thoughts of eyes or fingers, I flipped through the notes I'd made so far today. "Not much," I said around my food, ignoring Dean's smug expression. "At least, not much we didn't already know. There are three of them, sisters, most often called the Moirai. Clotho spins the thread of life, Lachesis measures it, and Atropos cuts it."
"So which one brought you up?" Dean asked, taking a drink from his bottle.
"I'm not sure yet. Couple thousand years ago, they were a big deal. Bigger than all those gods in the Greek pantheon. I've found a few different passages…" I picked up one of the books off a pile on the ground and flipped to a particular page. "Like here," I pointed and showed Dean.
He glanced at the archaic writing and cocked a sarcastic eyebrow at me before taking another swig of his beer. I rolled my eyes. "It suggests that the Moirai actually predate most of the gods at that time and that they controlled the gods' lifespans as well as mortals'. Though books written later claim that the gods came first and the Fates were born from a tryst between Zeus and Themis, goddess of justice."
"Tryst," Dean scoffed. "Sammy, I don't need a lecture. How is any of this important?"
"Information is always important," I argued. "But this is especially interesting because of what it means."
"And it means…" Dean prompted.
"It means that the Fates are a hell of a lot more powerful than anyone gives them credit for."
"Well, they did somehow get you out of an inescapable prison," Dean said idly.
"Know what is the best part of our little hole? There's no escape. Not ever. Not for you, not for me. You're stuck with me Sam. Isn't it wonderful?"
I flinched, but covered it by taking another bite of rice. Too salty and not quite warm enough, but my growling stomach finally had something to digest. I wasn't about to admit it to my brother, but I could already feel my headache begin to fade as the food made its way through my system. Wanting to speed my recovery more, I stood and walked over to Bobby's kitchen drawers, rummaging through the one I could have sworn had...
"A-ha," I said, discovering a nearly empty bottle of Ibuprofen behind packets of disreputable herbs. Tossing the remainder of the pills in my mouth and washing it down with a swig of beer, I leaned against the counter and thought on our current problem.
"You know," Dean mused. "We can't solve our issues when we don't even know what they are. And we won't know until the Marias—"
"Moirai," I corrected.
"Whatever," Dean muttered. "We can't do anything until we know what their reasons were. We don't know how, we don't know why. We don't know what they are going to want from us. However powerful they might be, they wouldn't have gone through the trouble of pulling you out Lucifer's grasp on just a whim."
"Does it hurt when I touch you here? How about here? Oh, poor baby, I know just where to touch to make you feel all better…"
Shuddering, but forcefully not thinking anything about Lucifer or his hands, I drained the rest of my beer. After throwing the empty pill canister and beer bottle into the trash can under the sink, I sank back into my seat and opened another book.
I picked up my pencil and continued the tedious translations. "Yeah, Dean, but we need to know as much as possible before we get stuck in a situation we can't get out of." I ignored my brother's worried look and dove back into the text. My headache still lingered, as did Dean, but I didn't look up from the book.
"Suit yourself, Sammy," Dean said softly before leaving the room. But I barely heard him, already scribbling out notes about what I was reading in the book. I had to stay busy. Every time I stopped, I thought about things better left alone.
Right now my work was the only thing distracting me.
"Hey, babe, how's Ben doing? Yeah? Tell him I said…yeah exactly that. You know the drill—lock the doors, salt the windows, all that jazz…No, I'm not sure, but Sammy's been digging up intel like some sort of geek-badger. He's barely stopped to breathe, but don't worry. We already know more than before and…Lisa, I can't do that to you…Alright, alright, have I told you how incredible you are lately? We'll check in tomorrow…Okay, you be safe too. Love you, Lees."
Dean clicked his phone shut and smiled.
"What're you fool-grinning about, boy?" Bobby grunted from behind his desk. He didn't look up, but he didn't need to see to know Dean's expression.
"Just that it's nice to be 'we' again, you know?" Dean said and sat back down on the sofa. He picked up his ivory gripped .45 from where he'd set it down mid-cleaning to answer his cell and quickly finished his work. Bobby knew that despite the gun not being used on a hunt for the past few months, it wouldn't have so much as a speck of grease or dust marring it.
Bobby understood too well how much it meant to the kid to have his brother back, even if Dean couldn't express it with anything but soulful looks.
"Oh and Lisa," Dean adds with forced nonchalance, "She says we need to keep her updated, but that she doesn't expect me to come back for a while."
"Quite a woman you got there," Bobby commented.
"I like her well enough," Dean winks suggestively.
They sit in silence for a while. Bobby slowly made his way through a Sumerian passage that might have some useful information. Dean cleans all of his weapons, handling each one like a long-lost lover.
"I'm worried about Sam," Dean breaks the silence with a low murmur. Neither of the men looked away from their work, acting as if the quiet words hadn't shattered their illusion of peace. Bobby flipped a page and Dean moved onto polishing his knives.
"I don't know what I expected," Dean says almost to himself. "Some big reunion out of a chick flick movie?" He huffed a sarcastic laugh. Sam was the girl who expected handholding, not Dean. "But he's…he's different."
Bobby snapped his book closed and glared at Dean. "Of course he ain't the same, idjit. You weren't the same after your stint in Hell, were you? Sam isn't a broken mess on the ground like I half expected he'd be, and you should be damned happy for that. He's out and he's safe." Although Bobby's stare was burning a hole in Dean's head, the kid didn't look up. He was listening though, if the cessation of knife rubbing was any indication.
"But he isn't happy is he?" Dean mused.
"Damn foolish Winchesters," Bobby muttered under his breath. "The boy is bleeding happy to be out of Hell, Dean, I promise you that. He's just got a lot of things to process now. Like the fact that he was Lucifer's chew toy in the Cage."
Seeing the lost expression on Dean's face, Bobby shook off his impatient anger and sighed. "Look, just give him room, okay? We can't do anything unless Sam wants us to help. You Winchesters are all the same that way," he tried to joke. "Just let him heal. He'll be fine in no time, you'll see."
Bobby reopened his book and went back to his reading, conversation over.
He didn't see Dean's empty smile as the other hunter carefully put the weapons back in the duffle. "When have we ever been just fine?" Dean asked to no one in particular.
A/N: Reviews keep me going. Tell me what you thought!