Category: Gen, Drama, Humor, Angst
Characters: (Past) Dean, John, Bobby; (Present) Dean, Sam, Bobby, Castiel
Spoilers: Through I Believe the Children Are Our Future
Summary: When Dean suffers a relapse of a debilitating supernatural illness he once had several years earlier, Bobby must bury his feelings of helplessness and inadequacy if he's to help Sam find a way to save Dean without reliving the mistakes of the past.
Word Count: 17,400
Disclaimer: See previous posts.
[Chapter 1] [Chapter 2] [Chapter 3] [Chapter 4] [Chapter 5] [Chapter 6]
The victims don't remember a damn thing. That didn't change if it happened fifty years ago or if it happened today. Nearly seven years ago, when Bobby had looked into Dean's eyes, he had seen the ghost of a broken man. Now, that man was older and still just as broken, but this time there was a spark of something else, of something light in there.
"A bori, huh?" Dean asked, limping alongside Bobby's wheelchair.
Bobby nodded and let himself relax as Sam pushed his chair. Anyone could tell the feeling hadn't fully come back to Dean's left side yet, leaving him a bit off-balance and lopsided, but at least the scratches on his right arm were hidden under his jacket sleeve. Dean didn't seem to want to dwell on it, and once he figured out where he was and what happened, he'd snapped back into his bravado.
That was a good sign.
Dean stretched his mouth in an exaggerated motion to get the left corner of his mouth working. To Bobby, it was almost comical. Almost.
"I nailed one of those suckers years ago."
No surprise he left out the part where it nailed him back. Bobby could imagine Sam rolling his eyes behind him.
"Bori don't strike twice," Dean added.
"Cas thinks a pagan god was involved somehow," Sam added. "Used your last encounter and ran with it."
Dean shot Bobby a curious look before he glanced back at Sam. If Dean was afraid that Sam had seen a less manly side of himself or had found out what happened back in '03, he didn't voice his fear. He just looked down to Bobby, raised his eyebrows, and grabbed the corn dog. "Where is Cas anyway?" he asked between mouthfuls. "Didn't want to come to the show?"
Bobby or Sam didn't have a chance to answer. As they approached the Impala, the three of them found Castiel among a crowd of people, showcasing the car to eager listeners.
"The hell? He's pimping my car!"
Dean shoved the half-eaten corn dog into Bobby's hand and stumbled after Castiel, still uneven as the poison worked its way out of his system. Sam and Bobby let him go.
"You think he'll be okay?" Sam asked.
Bobby watched Dean block Castiel and start spouting off a dozen specs for the Impala, pointing out to the enthusiasts all the work he'd done in keeping it top notch without sacrificing its integrity. Naturally, given where they were, they all hung on his every word. Dean ate it all up.
"I was wrong," Castiel said, leaving Dean to join them. He turned to Sam. "You have learned good judgment."
"I don't know. I'm not really sure what snapped him out of it. I really wanted to give him a new memory, something to make up for…" Sam sighed. "It could have been anything."
Dean cherished many things, and those little trinkets, whether an amulet or memories or his car or everything in between, switched focus on his priority list on a daily basis. Only God knew what really had dug into his mind this time around. But hey, maybe the old African myth was right. Maybe cars were their own kind of music for Dean.
Maybe it wasn't.
"Doesn't matter," Bobby said. "You got him back."
"We did," Sam corrected.
Sam might want to play the "we" card all he pleased, but Bobby had only been there to watch. He kept wishing maybe he was something more, and even though Sam and Dean told him repeatedly he was like family, he just was feeling less and less like a part of this group. Not without his legs.
He sighed. "Might as well try to drag wonder boy away from his adoring fans."
They gave Dean a few more minutes to shine in the spotlight before they encouraged him to pack it in. He did, rather reluctantly, and once the crowd dispersed, he helped Sam assist getting Bobby into his van. He didn't need the help, of course, but it was hard to argue when the Winchesters insist.
"All set," Sam said, giving the side of the van a pat.
Castiel held out his hand to Dean.
"I need it back."
Dean made a disgusted face at Castiel before slipping off the amulet and handing it back. "Same rules apply," he grumbled.
"Of course." The amulet disappeared from sight. Castiel then placed his hand on Dean's shoulder and gave him a significant look. "It's good to see you're not acting like a dog now."
Dean stared at him. "All right," he finally said, waving Castiel's hand off his shoulder. "That's enough weird for one day." Dean headed for the driver's side.
Sam stopped him short. "You probably should let me drive."
Dean groaned and threw the keys at Sam as they switched sides. "I'm not a freakin' invalid."
Not that it was funny, but Sam and Bobby laughed anyway. Just wait until he found out an angel had given him a sponge bath. He hoped Sam took pictures of his reactions when Dean heard that one.
"Oh, hey. Scorpions," Dean said, flipping through the cassette box Sam had left out for him. "I haven't listened to that album in awhile."
As Dean prepared to turn on the cassette, Sam leaned over and peered out the window. "We'll be in touch," he told Bobby.
Bobby was sure they would be. It didn't make the pain ease any.
"Thanks, Bobby," Dean said, waving as Sam started to pull out of the parking spot.
"Thank your brother," he called back.
But Dean was already lost in the music. As the two of them headed out of the lot, Bobby could see Dean mock drumming, while the faint sound of his off-key voice filled the air as he sang, "Here I am! Rock you like a hurricane!"
His voice faded, leaving Bobby with boisterous sounds of people entering and exiting the sports grounds, and an awkward looking angel standing outside his van.
"I would heal you if I could," Castiel told him.
"But maybe you need to find a way to heal yourself."
"So helpful," he muttered. When he went to face Castiel, the angel had already vanished.
Once again, Bobby was alone.
With a sigh, Bobby started the engine and headed home. He decided he would check the fridge for any leftover pizza, if Dean hadn't eaten it all, and settle in with some whiskey and a late-night western on one of those pay channels. Same old thing he did every night now when he wasn't helping the Winchesters.
Maybe some day it would be different. Maybe not. He didn't know.
Part of him just didn't care anymore.
As his old junkyard came into view, he thought about John, Dean, and Sam and everything they'd been through both together and apart. Bori were demented suckers. They preyed on people's insecurities and chose their victims wisely. But Bobby was starting to think the victims weren't just those that were stung. Bori infected everyone in that circle, bringing all the good and bad to the surface. They tore apart both victim and those who cared for them. The strength of a person was weighed in what choices they made. What memories they could bring out of the dark into the light.
Maybe they'd never know exactly what saved Dean that day, though Bobby was positive it wasn't about a "what" but about a "who." Maybe it all depended on the person having the ability to make any memory bright, to make new memories in times of despair. Maybe it had nothing to do with memories at all.
Bobby didn't think he'd ever know.
Little did Bobby know that one day he would find out. For what it was worth, in the years to come, Dean would constantly talk about that one special time his little brother cared enough to take him to a car show.
And the grumpy wheelchair-bound man who had stood by them to make it happen.
A/N: Thank you for anyone who has been reading. :)