|As The Dancers Shall Say
Fifth in the Second Sight Series
Supernatural, all audiences, future-fic.
The characters and situations portrayed here are not mine, they belong to the WB. This is a fan authored work and no profit is being made. Please do not link to this story without appropriate warnings. Please do not archive this story without my permission.
§As well the singers as the dancers shall say, All my springs are in thee.§ Psalm 87:7
Despite Dean's teasing or even maybe his held-close-to-the-chest insecurities about Sam's smarts, Sam had studied his ass off in school and in college to get and keep the grades he had. Secondary school had all been about Sam studying hard enough and forward enough to be able to catch up at the next school when they inevitably moved. College had been as much about knowing he was going to get one shot at this, one, as wanting the life he saw for himself.
The side affect to that need to stay ahead of the curve had manifested itself in a lot of ways; Sam's need to question, to push, to stay ahead. Maybe it had caused him to look beyond the life he'd always known -- to want more. He'd probably never know.
As a teen, keeping in shape had been as much a part of their routine as anything else. In fact, it was probably the only routine John held them to that Sam could remember. Hours in the car? Get out, unload, meet me in the parking lot in five minutes, boys. Move to a new town? Find a field, a gym if they could find one, find a firing range, or make one.
They ran miles. They ran miles carrying gear. His longer legs were the match for Dean's competitive edge.
Had they been any where long enough for him or Dean to enroll in some kind of team sport, Sam could probably have gotten a track scholarship as easily as an academic one.
His Dad's assessment of himself as a drill sergeant hadn't been far off the mark, but boot camp hadn't ended until Sam took himself off to college.
And even then, it was so ingrained in him, he hadn't been able to shake it and it was California. It seemed like everyone ran or jogged or something.
When the studying made his eyes blur and his head ache, Sam ran. When a paper or project just wouldn't come together, he ran. When loneliness or frustration or doubt hounded his sleep, he ran.
He'd been running when he met Jessica.
The whole year he spent crisscrossing the country with Dean, he hadn't really missed the running. They'd gotten plenty of exercise. It had taken them months to get back into even a facsimile of the synch they'd known before Sam left.
A couple of months after they settled in Winnetka, Dean started getting up earlier -- not something he ever expressed any love for. He'd leave when he thought Sam was still sleeping, come back a half hour or forty-five minutes later, shower and be ready to drop Sam off at school or at least see him in the right direction before heading to work.
"Where do you run?"
"Huh? Oh, uh, around the school grounds. It's a mile, mile and half," Dean said, doing his best not to hover while Sam fixed dinner.
He'd done it a couple of times now. The apartment's small kitchen didn't allow for much of anything fancy, but Sam could make soup, could put together spaghetti. Dean wasn't allowed to help, not even with clean up, except to check Sam's work.
Cooking and cleaning relied on a level of detail and pattern that Sam still had trouble with. There were lots of tools and aids, thermometers in Braille, the label gun, the need to train himself to never, ever grab at something quickly, which really, could only be imprinted by trial and error; burning his hands, cutting his fingers.
Sam wasn't sure if it were he or Dean who had the harder time with it, mostly because Dean didn't see why Sam couldn't just accept that Dean would keep Sam from cutting himself or burning himself. God help him if he fell down the stairs.
Some days the urge, the desire to let Dean do all that he so obviously wanted to do for Sam, (which was pretty much everything,) was so strong, it took everything Sam had to make himself refuse the help. He was never very graceful about it, and Dean would go silent for a bit, and Sam would think dying would have been easier.
He had a hard enough time dealing with his own guilt. Dean's would break him if he let it.
So, he learned to clean the counters by touch, by deliberate patterns, splash guard to counter edge, guided by his hands. The first time he heard Dean go quietly behind him to clean a spot he'd missed he nearly shoved Dean into the wall.
He hadn't missed Angela DeBarges gentle reminder that with a blindness as absolute as Sam's, he'd never be able to be fully without assistance of some kind. He could dress himself, but it wouldn't take much for him to end up dressed like a five year old, in mismatched colors, mismatched socks.
He'd gotten turned around more than once in the school building, between classes, able to find the Braille marked signs but not good enough yet to read them with complete accuracy.
Asking for help was hard as hell. Actually accepting it was harder still.
"Is it level? I mean…"
"It's not bad. Sidewalk mostly. Some curbs, ramps…I mean there's some broken--" Dean had paused. "You want to go?"
"If guys with no legs can play basketball, I think I can learn to run. If you help," he said. He would have killed to be able to see Dean's face just then.
They'd walked it first. One huge square block. "There's not usually a lot of people when I go," Dean said. "So, the chances of you knocking some little old lady down are pretty slim."
"Unless you get distracted by some pretty younger lady," Sam shot back.
Dean had chuckled. "Point."
Sam couldn't count the number of steps from curb to corner. It would be different when he was running.
"Okay, now I really feel like a guide dog," Dean said, when he had to guide Sam around street side trash cans and adjust for steps that jutted out into the sidewalk.
"Is that what you feel like?" Sam asked, dropping his hand.
"Jesus, Sam. Maybe we should practice more on your going back to ignoring half of what I say." The exasperation was plain in Dean's voice. He grabbed Sam's hand and put it back on his arm. "You want to do this or not?"
"Yeah. Yeah I do. Let's go."
Sam punched him in the shoulder.
The first time was more like a kind of paced trotting. They tried it with Sam's hand on Dean's arm but it was awkward, threw Sam off his stride. A hand on Dean's shoulder was better and Sam had to concentrate on not gripping him tightly as much as the length of his stride.
He got used to it though. Not that he didn't stumble and even fall a couple of times. Luck or Dean's quick reflexes kept him from spraining an ankle, but his left arm and wrist were swollen for a week. But after a couple of weeks it became as familiar as finding his way around the apartment.
It wasn't the same as running alone, but it was close enough and Dean surrendered his usual chatter for softly spoken descriptions of their path.
"Curb, three, two, one." They only stumbled a little, the jarring of stepping down without knowing how far was something Sam could only learn by practice.
The feel of Dean's shoulder moving under his fingertips, the sound of his steady breathing, the rhythmic pace of their shoes hitting the pavement…
It was as close to peace as Sam could find any longer.
He counted the steps, the strides, until he almost didn't need Dean's breathless warnings any longer.
On the long stretch along Oak street, he dropped his hand from Dean's shoulder and Dean stumbled, faltered.
Sam should have warned him, he knew. Maybe should have stopped but he didn't. Didn't miss his stride, his count. It took a few moments for Dean to catch back up to him, arm brushing Sam's just briefly.
Just a few steps from the corner Sam lifted his hand and found Dean's shoulder again, gripped his shirt, let go, and rested his hand there along the much more problematical and obstacle laden Provident Avenue.
Dean didn't say anything until they finished the course, walking a bit to cool down. It was neither a long nor hard run for either of them.
"You could have run into something," Dean said finally, but he sounded more curious than angry.
Sam grinned. "I think the likelihood of me running into things is pretty high no matter what."
"You knew where you were, though. I mean…"
Sam bent over at the waist, breathing out. "I know how long that stretch takes us and I knew where you were…I just, you know…" But Dean didn't and Sam didn't know how to explain it to him without it coming out wrong.
In some ways he was so very much alone it scared the shit out of him. In other ways it felt like he was never alone. He could find solitude if he absolutely needed it, but he couldn't just…go. Run, walk, wander. He couldn't get ahead of himself or anyone else. He had a hard enough time just trying to keep moving forward.
"You know…there's a park just a few blocks over," Dean said after a moment.
Sam hadn't. There could have been an ocean or a cliff the next block over and he wouldn't know that either.
"It's got a decent cinder path, right along the lake…" Dean added. "Probably five miles worth."
"Than buildings and streets? Yeah, Sam."
"Women in running shorts."
"More like women pushing those monster running strollers," Dean said but Sam could hear the smile in his voice. "There's a nice long stretch on the back side, straight shot…you could probably run flat out a quarter mile or so."
And maybe it wasn't so much himself he needed to get ahead of as much as he just needed to keep up with Dean.
There were worse goals to strive for.