|For How Shall I Endure
Thirteenth in the Second Sight Universe By Maygra
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.
§For how shall I endure to see the evil that shall befall my people? and how shall I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?§
Ruth dies in April, in her own bed, in her sleep. Sam woke to a pain in his chest, and unable to breath or move for a few moments before it passed. Sam doesn't tell Dean until the next morning, lets the shock and anger and grief wash over him as Dean works through it.
"There was no reason to wake you up. She went quiet. No way to explain how we knew she was dead in the middle of the night."
Dean doesn't like it, not so much for Ruth (although that's bad enough) but because Sam kept it from him, spent the night with it alone. The cops and the coroner seem grateful in a weird way. Old woman, living alone, could have been days, if she didn't have neighbors looking out for her.
The roses in Ruth's garden are in full bloom, spring flowers so bright they make Dean's eyes ache, and the scent of them spreads across the yards and fills the air, like something of Ruth remains even after she's gone.
They met Ruth's sister a couple of years ago, are there when Avis arrives, with her husband, her oldest son. They have the service here, in town, where Ruth's friends are, bury her in the cemetery here, next to her husband.
She left them a few things, a little money, instructions to take some cuttings from her garden. She knew Sam liked the roses, the fragrant-sweet lillies, and soft, thick lambs ears. There's a few other things, small things, remembrances that Avis doesn't begrudge them; a couple of cookbooks, some old recordings and the still functional turntable to play them on, the glider on the porch and the chairs and table set in Ruth's backyard.
Avis finds a gift already wrapped in birthday paper with Sam's name on it.
The house is on the market within a couple of months. Dean comes home one night to find a landscaper there, digging up some of the rose bushes, trimming the shrubs away from the porch. Realtor wants curb appeal, the guy says, and doesn't protest when Dean takes a few of the rose bushes. Lets him borrow a shovel, suggests putting them at the end of their porch where they won't catch on clothing, will get plenty of water from the gutter run offs.
By the time the landscaper is done, Ruth's house looks totally different, kind of hollow and naked and Dean's glad Sam can't see it.
In May, Sam spends the better part of the first half of the month in bed, or so it seems. First Bobby, who loudly proclaims he's not doing shit these days and too old for this stuff, but he foregoes his annual trip to Lake Michigan and fishing. When the ferry goes down with all hands but six, Bobby's way of saying thank you is to send along clippings of all the people who died when Dean asks him to. Dean sits in Sam's room and reads them until they both have them memorized.
On the third of the month, Dean spends a couple of days on the phone trying to track down Will Abrams. They haven't seen him since they were both in their teens, but he gave them a couple of weeks of quiet on his farm in Minnesota after a hunt for an Ahuizotle along the Yellow Medcine River. Sam ended up with a broken arm, Dean with a badly wrenched knee, and John was near blind for three days where the thing had clawed at his eyes.
Will is no longer on his farm, and it's his son who goes and picks him up from the nursing home for the day. The fires start in Will's room, spread to that wing and four of the elderly residents and one nurse's aide die before they got the rest out. Will is another one who isn't angry but asks Dean not to call again.
Sam has at least two other visions over the next two weeks but he won't tell Dean what they are, makes no calls himself. It's a couple of months before Dean learns of the two other deaths -- one by drowning, one in car accident. Other friends, people they haven't talked to in years.
The only reason Dean knows was that at the first, Sam woke up choking and gasping for air, skin damp and face twisted up in panic and fear. For the second, he's in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner when he goes down like someone punched him, reeling against the counter and the table, taking dishes and chairs with him. Dean thinks he's having a seizure at first, but it passes; leaves Sam with a bloody nose and more bruises than his fall could cause.
Dean gets him ice and helps him upstairs and thinks of Missouri, and Sam knowing what she thought and felt when she died; of the curse of Sam's blindness and the payment exacted over and over again,
They've never really tried to find a way to try and undo this, never investigated it or at least Dean never has, too wrapped up in making a home and a life for Sam and himself. He calls his father while Sam sleeps.
"I've got a job for you."
"You think I haven't been looking?"
His father isn't angry and Dean's shame lasts about as long as it takes for him to remember wiping the blood from Sam's nose and rubbing cortisone and arnica into the bruises on his face and chest.
It's bad enough that Sam keeps seeing the deaths of people he knows and cares about. Dean will be damned himself if Sam's going to bleed for the ones he can't save.
June is uncharacteristically hot, and Sam spends his Wednesdays at the local library, part of the reading program there. Half the kids start coming because their friends tell them about the blind man who reads to them, but the ones that stay do so because Sam makes the stories sound exciting and interesting. He tries his best not to get close to the kids, and for the first year or so it works. He doesn't know their names really, does his best not to recognize their voices.
But when the vision of a bicycle and a car and the screech of metal and the small, broken thump comes to him on the way to the library the third Wednesday of the month, he calls in sick and throws up for the rest of the afternoon.
He doesn't know her face, doesn't hear her voice. Sends his condolences to her parents and her brothers and sisters when he finds out who she was. Goes to the funeral.
He listens to Dean when his brother tells him that she had been riding her bike with a dozen other kids. That she'd been in the front of the pack of them, the first into the street. Tries to believe that if not her then maybe a half dozen other kids.
Tries to stop thinking of ways he could have stopped them all, of what the exponential loss of life could have been.
But all he can really think about is that her name was Annie. She was nine.
He calls the library a week later. They'll need to find someone else to read to the kids.
Sam doesn't leave the house at all in July except to occasionally sit on the porch. Mrs. Xiang from the store on the corner stops by one day, just to see if he's all right, brings him a package of the almond cookies he favors and a pound of the coffee he usually buys, tells him she misses him. He thanks her, offers her tea. He tries not to notice the slow, warm, pulse of blood in her hand when he shakes it when she says good-bye, tries not to hear the heavily accented tone of her voice. Resolutely refuses to think about that hand growing cold or that voice going silent.
At the end of the month, Dean calls in an anonymous tip to the cops, but the vision hits Sam too fast and they get there too late to save Mrs. Xiang, although they catch the guy and none of the other customers in the store are hurt.
The local papers theorize that the shooter had a partner who got cold feet and called in the tip.
Dean has two weeks off the first of August and the plan is to load up the car, spend a few days with their dad then just hit the road, like old times. Sam's more than willing, more than ready to go. August is hotter than hell and the air so still he can't seem to breathe right.
The day before they are supposed to leave, he wakes up in a cold sweat and makes his way to Dean's room, wakes him up early and tells him not to go in.
"What are you seeing?"
"One of the lifts...you in the bay. There's something wrong with the lift."
Dean goes in anyway, early, takes Sam with him. He's not going to call in sick -- he knows the guys who work there, their families. The shop's been here for years and he's already tallying up the would-be costs when he calls in to tell the gas company he smells a leak. He's inviting disaster on the gas company guys, but he grits his teeth, makes his own guys stay out of the shop when they show up for work. Puts a closed sign in the driveway and watches a half dozen cars slow down like they were coming for oil changes or brake jobs or something and he turns them all away.
The gas guys don't find anything, of course -- there was never any leak. Dean has the guys check the hydraulic lifts, calls the service company to come out and check each of them. The far left one is leaking fluid and it fails the third time they test it, slamming down into the bay and torquing the frame. Had a car been on the pads it would have slide right into the bay. They'll have to replace it and it will cost a lot of money but no one minds that, and Dean is lauded as a hero which makes him angry. He hides it, taking their thanks and their gratitude while watching Sam sit in his office with his head back and his face pinched and tight.
Across town a guy in a mini-van plows into a busy intersection when his brakes fail.
When they get home, Dean throws the last of their stuff in the truck, locks up the house and heads out of town. Sam hasn't said a word since this morning and Dean doesn't push it. When they arrive at their father's house and see him on the porch waiting for them, Dean stops in the driveway, reaches across and grips the back of Sam's neck. "I'm not sorry."
Sam nods and pulls his glasses off, rubs at his eyes, which are red around the edges and watery. "Me either," he says and puts his glasses back on.
Neither of them really are, and that, Dean knows, is part of the problem.
In September, a family buys Ruth's house, a couple and their two kids, a girl and boy, ages twelve and nine. There's no way to avoid introducing themselves -- the neighborhood is and always has been friendly and close. Sam clips roses from Ruth's bushes which are doing freakishly well in their new home, and Dean picks up a bottle of sparkling cider and a fresh loaf cake.
Kelly and Miranda, Angela and Peter. Peter wears thick bottle bottom glasses and Angela has a lisp and the scars from a repaired hairlip from infancy. Kelly is a CPA and Miranda teaches middle school.
They stay only long enough to be polite, will let other neighbors tell them about Ruth. Back home, Dean pulls out a couple of beers and they sit on the porch sipping them, feeling the first cool breezes of autumn stir the air.
"We could move," Dean says quietly, listening to the voices next door, waving to a few people on the street. They could. They've got enough equity in the house to get a good price. The town is growing. It's a good place for people to settle and raise families.
Sam thinks about it, peels the label from his bottle and rolls it into a little ball. He finishes his beer and drops the wad of foil and paper into the neck. He sets the bottle down and leans back on his elbows. His glasses are off and the milky-whiteness of his eyes seem to glow but they reflect nothing, not even the stars starting to dot the night sky. "We could," he says and blind or not he finds Dean's face without even trying. "In the middle of nowhere. Where you have to go into town once a week or once a month to pick up supplies. Get a satellite dish and never have visitors except Dad now and then."
"That's not what I meant."
"I know it's not," Sam says and there's no apology in his voice.
"Do I need to lock the guns up again, Sam?" Dean asks. "It's been a rough summer."
"There's something ironic about the idea of hiding guns from a blind man."
"You're not exactly an ordinary blind man, little brother."
Sam looks away, out into the street. "Do you think moving would actually change anything?"
Dean doesn't. "I just want you to have some kind of life. Not hide in the house, avoiding people. If you're going to do that, we may as well move."
Sam reaches out and knocks his empty bottle over, manages to catch it before it rolls off the porch and shatters on the stone steps. "I'm not the only one who deserves a life."
Sam goes inside. It takes a few moments for what he's said to sink in and this time it's Dean who has to rub his eyes.
He finishes his beer. Across the street a couple of leaves fall.
When he goes inside, Sam's hidden all the guns.
"That doesn't exactly help," Dean says, leaning in the doorway of Sam's room, watching his brother read.
"No, but it'll be fun watching you try and find them," Sam says. He's made coffee, and he has a plate of almond cookies by his bed.
Three weeks later Dean finds the last of the guns in the dishwasher they never use. He cleans them, oils them, puts them in a box, and the box in the back of his closet. He doesn't really think Sam will try anything, but he hasn't touched them in months except to practice.
A week after that he finds the box on his bed, and the guns laid out side by side.
He gets what Sam's trying to tell him.
In October, Sam gets busy at work, taking on a whole new project to read children's books for the books for the blind company he works for. Dean sits out in the hallway and listens to him sometimes, understands why Sam won't go back to the library -- not yet.
The air turns crisp and clear over a weekend, sharp, but not cold. A Saturday morning and Dean's sitting out on the porch with the newspaper, the windows upstairs are open and he can hear Sam's steady voice reading Black Beauty. He can only barely hear the actual words, but Sam's voice rises and falls, not hypnotically but in such a way that makes Dean wish he could hear better.
Dean puts down the paper, takes off his glasses and sees Peter standing at the end of the sidewalk. At the corner of the yard, his Dad is waiting, watching, a faint smile on his face.
"Hey, Peter. What's up?"
"I wondered...you coach the little league baseball team, right?"
"I'm one of the coaches, yeah."
"I wondered...if you could coach me, a little. Maybe."
"Season's over, Pete."
"I know...I just...I've never," he hesitates, pushes the thick glasses up on his nose and looks to his father. "I'd like to try out in the spring, but I've never...I've never played."
Dean glances at Kelly, who wanders over. "I don't play," Kelly says. "Never have. Chess man."
"I should turn you loose on my brother," Dean says and looks back at Peter. Angela is chatty and friendly and Dean's seen her with her new friends, running all over the place. Peter's quieter, a little shy. Reminds him of Sam.
"I don't see why not. You're going to have to practice though."
Peter's face breaks into a grin. "I'd like to learn. When?"
Dean gets up. "Need to get you a mitt."
"I have one!" Peter says, and runs back to his house.
Dean smiles. Looks like they are starting now.
"Thank you," Kelly says. "He really wants to play on the team with his friends. You're apparently their favorite coach."
Dean shrugs. "All the kids in the league get to play. Glad to help."
Peter comes back with his brand new glove.
"Nice one. Tell you what, you go into the back yard, I'll get us some balls and my mitt. You gonna join in?" he asks Kelly.
"I've never --"
"Never too late to learn," Dean says.
"Maybe I'll watch."
"Your choice. Chess you said? You any good?"
Dean nods. "Be with you in a minute."
He gets his gear, stops by Sam's office. "Kelly plays chess."
"Thought you might like to know -- give you a chance to play against someone who might be able to kick your ass at it."
Sam hesitates. "I need to finish this."
"Okay. I'll be in the back yard with Peter, coaching the next Greg Maddux."
Dean spends a little time telling Peter about the rules of the game. Kelly sits on the back porch steps and listens. Then they start tossing the ball. Peter's got a little depth perception problem, but he really wants to do this, so he listens when Dean tell him he needs to think about how short the ball is likely to fall from where he sees it.
By the time Sam comes down Pete's doing pretty well, catching three out of four, but a little frustrated and getting tired. Dean calls a stop before his failures outweigh his successes, and Sam offers them something to drink. Dean shows Pete how to care for his new glove, how to break it in, while Sam and Kelly talk quietly in the kitchen.
After they leave, Dean sees the chess board set up on the coffee table, fingers the braille marked pieces and doesn't say anything to Sam. Halfway up the stairs he stops and listens, settles down on the steps, lets Sam's voice roll over him as he finishes reading.
"My troubles are all over, and I am at home; and often before I am quite awake, I fancy I am still in the orchard at Birtwick, standing with my old friends under the apple-trees."*
A light breeze works through the house, the scent of Ruth's roses carried on it.
*Quote is the last line from Anna Sewell's Black Beauty, originally published in 1877, this edition is from 1911.