Coda to Gekizetsu's Disinterment (this will make no sense if you don't read that) from the Salvation AU.
Sarah, Rated PG13 for language. Aftermath. (2,340 words)
Sometimes Sarah didn't want to know things.
Danielle would probably be surprised to know they shared that much. Sarah had tried not to let it color her relationship with her ex-sister in law, if only because she understood the urge. Of course, Dean hadn't helped there -- he'd been satisfied for Danielle to accept and never pushed it. Whereas Sam, Sam had never pushed either but it had been clear from the start that it was part and parcel of who he was. Sam didn't like secrets, he didn't like hiding -- it had cost him too much his whole life.
But still, there were times she wanted to unknow things.
Waking up sleepy girls and packing up their clothes and stuff from the hotel room let her not know for a little bit longer. They could have stayed there, but when Sam and Dean got back from doing whatever they were doing, when they surfaced again, they'd go home.
And one thing she refused not to know was that letting Sam come back an empty house where the glass of the back door was still broken, and God knew what other remnants of that thing might still linger, wasn't something she would let happen. She made the offer to Danielle as well, "Come back with us," but Danielle had only shaken her head and bundled Charlie up. "Dean will come to you," Danielle said with a marked lack of bitter undertones that might have tainted her word prior to this. "Have him call me. We'll be at home. Charlie will want to talk to him. No matter how late or early."
Sarah had driven them home and waited until they were inside. The lights remained on. Beside her on the front seat, Leigh ducked down and curled up, head pressed to Sarah's side. In the back seat Allie had an arm curved tightly around Mary's shoulders, the slighter girl clinging to her sister with both arms. Both of them were wide awake.
Sarah wanted to sleep for a month.
Christo was insanely glad to see them. Sam had checked on him, but they hadn't been able to take him with them, and that had only added to their daughters's distress, but he was fine if a little frantic.
Sarah sent them all to bed even though she got a stony look form Allie -- not because Allie was being asked to give up her bedroom again for Dean but because Allie wanted to wait up for her father and uncle to get home.
She'd acted like an adult through all of this and it was unfair for Sarah to keep treating her like a child. She said as much and Allie blinked at her.
"I know it's not fair. I just…be my little girl tonight. Just for tonight," Sarah said knowing she was that close to breaking and not ready -- yet -- to let Allison take that on as well.
"Will you… will you ask Dad to wake me, when he comes home?" Allison asked her, sliding into Sarah's arms as easily as if she wasn't already nearly Sarah's height and likely to get taller.
"I'll ask him. Now…go to bed. Take Christo with you," Sarah said.
Allie kissed her and squeezed hard before heading upstairs.
Sarah waited, checking locks, her cellphone, settling on the stairs while listening to Allie use the bathroom, the girls whispering. When it got quiet she made herself get up.
She wasn't all that keen to go into the kitchen. The bruises on her face had come into their own spectacular hues of purple and yellow and green, and her temple and cheek bone ached if she was tired or smiled too broadly. The former was a constant state, the latter less of a problem.
Sam had said he'd boarded up the broken window until they could get it repaired, but Sarah wasn't looking forward to cleaning up the rest: the glass, the splintered metal, the kitchen curtains that would have to be replaced. The police had been and gone, collecting evidence they'd never be able to use.
She was honestly afraid to see what else might still be there; smears of her own blood on the door, maybe even bits of the dead skin she scratched off. The thought of it made her want to throw up -- but she would not be afraid in her own house, of her own home. If she couldn’t do this, they'd have to move and she didn't want to do that either.
"I can make coffee." Coffee would take her into the kitchen but not near the back door. That she could do. It hadn't gotten into the house. She did a mental dusting of hands and got up, eyes straight ahead, and trying not to look left or right.
But of course she did, and then stopped.
The kitchen and the area around the back door was clean. She stared at it for a minute, seeing the window temporarily covered with plywood, the floor swept and mopped. Even the bag in the trashcan had been changed and when she checked the pantry she stared for a moment at the brand new broom and dustpan, the pristine mop still in its plastic wrapper.
And suddenly she couldn't unknow anything at all.
The broom was like her old one, but the bristles were not dusty, the price tag was still on the handle. There was no dirt, no glass stuck along the bottom, no smears of blood or dead flesh caught and staining the straw comb. There were no smears of anything -- not even mud or dirt on the floor, along the baseboards, or along the wood part of the door. It had all been wiped clean -- she could see it, where it had been scrubbed to the wood beyond the stain.
She'd bet her wedding ring that Sam planned to replace the whole door and not just the glass.
When she found herself sitting on the floor hugging the broom to her, she was idly, awfully glad he'd mopped it so thoroughly.
She tucked her head against her arms and knees, the broom handle pressing painfully to her cheek but she didn't move; pulled her knees in tighter and let her tears soak her jeans instead of her shiny, bright, blessedly clean kitchen floor.
She wasn't a crier -- she never had been. A few angry tears as a teenager, less restraint when her mother died. But she didn't cry in public ever -- it just wasn't done in her home growing up, and not crying in public made it harder to weep even in private.
She could feel it backing up in her stomach, in her chest, making her hands feel clammy and her face feel hot. It made no sense, to be this upset, now, to feel the need to run far and fast -- to grab her girls, grab Sam and Dean and Dani and Charlie and just run.
This thing had come to her house. Come after her family, after her life.
It had shoved her eldest daughter from child to something else and she wasn't ready for it. She thought she knew. She thought she had a handle on the whole thing. Hunting with Sam and with Dean had been as much about proving to Sam (and herself) that she was okay with the whole thing -- the whole Nightmare on Elm Street, Boogeyman in the closet, Mad Aunt Matilda in the Attic, surreality of the life Sam had been submerged in since infancy.
Sixteen years of marriage, of knowing, of watching and being there and cleaning up after, of watching Dean tear himself apart and her and Sam and their girls help him put himself back together, of watching Sam fight to balance a lifetime worth of regret with present joys and be so God Damned Stubborn about it broke her heart and filled it up again over and over and over again.
She thought she knew.
She'd been wrong, wrong, very wrong to think she understood anything about what it felt like to have something, something evil and horrible and inhuman come after her family, after the people she loved.
She understood now, what had made Dean push them all away, to go after this thing himself…to sacrifice (and there was no other word for it) himself to keep them all safe. She could only pray that he'd realized now, it didn't work that way.
If Sam ever tried the same thing, she'd personally put a bullet in his leg. But it was Sam, she knew, who had so thoroughly removed as much evidence of that thing's presence as he possibly could. Had scrubbed the door and the floor, probably swept of the back deck and maybe even washed it off so that there would be nothing for Sarah to see, nothing for the girls to accidently catch a glimpse or sense of.
She moved from fear and grief and confusion to anger that quickly, raising her head, fingers tightening on the broom handle, wanting to snap it in two.
But she didn't; she touched it, stroked along the wood, picked at the price tag until it peeled off. The anger simmered and settled. It would be back. She would take it out on something, somewhere, maybe be load up a couple of shotguns and drive out to the desert and just blast the hell out of deadwood and cans or just dirt. Blast and blast like she wished she could have done with the evil that had come to her door.
Not because of Sam or Dean but for them. For all of them. How many times had Dean said that? There's nothing, nothing that can't be killed or destroyed. You just have to know how.
Right now, though, she needed to make coffee, and make sure Sam ate something when he got back. Make sure Dean called his daughter and his ex-wife and let him -- still him -- reassure them that they were safe. That he was safe.
It wouldn't be true. But Danielle needed to know it for whatever reason and Charlie wouldn't believe it either but she'd want to hear it just like Allie did. Allie, who was probably, even now, laying awake waiting for her father to come home.
She had just enough time. Enough time before she heard the car in the drive to get coffee made (decaf), to make sandwiches. Remake the bed in Allie's room and leave Dean' s pain pills in an obvious reminder.
Enough time to put her new broom back in the pantry.
Enough time to go upstairs and lean into the doorway. "Allison," she said softly and heard Christo whuff softly. "Your Dad and Uncle Dean are home."
She didn't wait for her, but went outside, watched them get out of the car. Dean was moving more easily than he had when he left but still cautiously and Sam was moving like he was so exhausted everything hurt. She slipped between them, arm around each, tilted her head up for Sam's mouth. "It's over," he said. "All over."
"Okay," she said, not believing but right then Sam needed her to believe it. This was over. This horror.
Allie came padding out in pajama bottoms and an oversized t-shirt, chewing her lip and Sarah gave Sam a little nudge forward and walked toward the house with her arm around Dean's waist. "You need to call Danielle."
Dean only nodded, eyes on Sam's back. She gripped his shirt and made him stop and he swung his gaze to her, mild question in his tired eyes. "As long as you're alive, nothing bad's gonna happen to Sam. To any of us. You remember saying that?"
His eyes widened a little. "Yeah, I remember."
"Don't test it again. Ever," she said. "You don't have that right. Not anymore."
His eyes narrowed and he stiffened. "Sarah--"
"Do not fuck with me over this," she hissed at him softly.
"That's not fair."
"Tough. Deal with it."
He opened his mouth and closed it again. Glanced at Sam and Allie then back at Sarah. "I don't think I can promise to live forever."
Sarah snugged him tighter and smiled. "I wouldn't put it past you."
"I could get hit by a bus," he said walking them forward again.
"I could run you over with my car."
"You would. That's taking tough love a little far don't you think?" He'd relaxed some and so had Sarah. She grinned at him. It made her face hurt.
"Push it and see. Call your women."
Dean pursed his lips and nodded, then pressed his lips to her forehead. "I'll take your word for it."
Allie pulled away from her father and Sarah surrendered her spot at Dean's side.
Sam held out a hand and she took it, squeezing tightly. His hand was abraded, the palm scraped and reddened. Already there were blisters rising up over older calluses. She rubbed her thumb across them, feeling the heat in the damaged skin. She'd ask him about it later. "Don't replace the door," she said after Allie and Dean had gone inside. Sam got a(nother) furrow between his eyebrows.
"What? It's --"
"Leave it. We'll get the glass fixed. Restain it."
Sam looked down at her and swallowed, but he nodded. "Okay."
She pulled him down, felt the tension in him unwind a little, enough to make him tremble from the release of it. The door wouldn't keep the bad things out. This would. For now.
She was feeling a little flushed when she pulled back and pushed him inside the house. She turned off the porch light and stared at her darkened front yard, the street beyond. Shadows danced and played across the lawn, things rustled in the bushes. Behind her there was light and she could hear Dean on the phone, heard the refrigerator door open as Allie got something out of it.
Sam's hands rested on her shoulders. "There's nothing out there."
She nodded and closed the door.
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