|For Thou Desirest Not Sacrifice
Fourth in the Second Sight Universe
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.
Spoilers for Nightmare and Shadow.
Author notes at end.
§ For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou hast no pleasure in burnt-offering.§
Sam had laughed at him. "What, bells and alarms? Spring loaded sword blade?"
"Oh, now that would be cool. Seriously though, Sam, this thing is flimsy as all hell. Don't hit anyone with it. They'll laugh in your face."
Dean was entirely ready to deal with a bunch of uptight, uber-PC, disability geeks when they reached Winnetka and the Hadley School. They'd gone without any guarantee that the school would take Sam, only the vaguest idea of what it would entail and less than five hundred bucks between them. Pastor Jim had slipped Dean an extra hundred while Dean was packing. "You pay it back when you get a chance," he'd said and it had immediately gone into the column of debts Dean would actually repay.
The chick they'd dealt with over the phone had sounded encouraging, though, happily set up the appointments both with the ophthalmologists and the course instructors.
Not everyone at the school was blind. Some weren't blind at all, some were only "markedly impaired" and Dean was surprised to find as many adults as kids.
And dogs. Lots of big, quiet, well-trained, indispensable guide dogs.
It took him about six weeks to start feeling like one of them.
He had to find a job and did. Regular hours, pay that made him roll his eyes, but as well funded as the school was, they didn't provide food or clothes or anything but basic shelter and given they weren't that far out of Chicago and rent wasn't cheap Dean didn't bitch about it, not even in private to Sam.
He had classes of his own, once they'd settled the opening salvo of questions on the entrance interview.
"So, Sam, are you looking at full independence or permanent assisted living?" Her name was Angela De Barges, and she was almost as scarily tall as Sam. She had the glossiest brown hair Dean had ever seen, a generous curve to hip and breast, and wore those kind of retro-fifties cat's eyes glasses with dark shading that Dean thought were both cool and classy.
"Full independence," Sam said while Dean was still contemplating how much he already loved this school and they'd only been here two days after acceptance.
"Hey…I'm not going anywhere," Dean had snapped to Sam's answer. He was totally capable of multi-tasking.
"I know that," Sam said on a chuckle.
"But…what's the deal. I mean, like living alone?"
Angela had smiled and sat back in her chair and crossed her legs in a completely distracting way. "Many blind people do. Granted, for people with complete blindness, like Sam's, some kind of assistance is necessary part of the time -- through services, friends, family, neighbors. One of the assessments we'll make is on your current living quarters," her fingers had skated across a page, mixed text and Braille and Dean had tried to read it. "You're staying at one of the guest apartments. What about afterward? Do you live in a single family home, apartment, condo?"
"We've been staying with a friend, for the past month. He's got a farm outside of Boise."
"But other than that…Family home?"
"No," Sam said. "I was...we, my brother and I…I was enrolled at Stanford, pre-law. I took a year off after--we've been on the road. Were, when I lost my sight."
Anyone else looking at Sam might have backed off, backed down, not pressed.
Angela, of course, couldn't see the expression on Sam's face, couldn't see Dean's face…
"I'm going to be looking for a place while Sam's learning all the cool tricks of the blind trade," Dean said smoothly, gripping Sam's shoulder. "Might help to know which would be easier. House, apartment…"
"Either. Full independence means there are services -- grocery stores, drugstores, Laundromats…close by or who pick up and deliver. It's familiarity that makes independent living even possible. We tend not to rearrange furniture much," she said and smiled.
She had a killer smile. Almost rivaled Sam's. She couldn't see Dean's at all, of course. Hadn't known he'd been checking her out, appreciating her assets.
He felt vaguely dirty like he usually didn't. Taking advantage like he never did, tried to never do. Looks and charm weren't actually going to help him here. Not even a little bit.
Okay, maybe the charm.
Dean learned more in that hour interview than in anything afterward and very little of it had anything to do with what Angela told them.
Sam picked up the cane thing pretty quickly. The tapping drove Dean insane at first. It wasn't the noise.
He wasn't going anywhere. Steps, uneven pavement, obstacles. He could warn Sam about those.
"You can't be with me every second."
"Sure I can. I mean, you know except when I'm working or…"
Sam had cocked his head at him, given him one of those smiles that both irritated Dean and killed him. "Yeah, I'll sit in a chair all day. Wait for you to get home. Just put a bullet in my brain now, Dean," Sam said it softly. He was serious.
"I'm not going anywhere." He didn't mean to sound so belligerent, so angry.
"Dude, I know that. But this…I have to do this, Dean. And it has to be this way."
"Sam…" He couldn't fix this. He knew it. Sam had known it from the start.
Dean's eyes had burned, like they hadn't thus far. Not when it happened. Not when he'd been down, Dad had been down, and Sam…
…nothing's gonna happen to you. Not while I'm around…
"I'm gonna…you want Chinese for dinner?"
"Yeah. Chinese would be good."
No one was less surprised than Dean at how quickly Sam picked up everything the school showed him, taught him. From reading to walking to making sure he didn't put his shirts on inside out.
Three weeks in Dean stopped by Angela DeBarges office. "I wondered…look. I don't know half of what Sam's going through. Is there any way --"
She might not have been able to see his face, but her smile was all for him. "Yeah. Come on," she'd said. Gotten up, unfolded her cane, tucked her hand lightly into the crook of Dean's elbow and taken him for a walk.
The walk lasted all day. Blindfolded by glasses that sealed out even the slightest bit of light, they never left the school grounds. At the end of the day Dean was bruised from having run into things. Had tripped twice, barked shins and hips and elbows into more walls, doors, desks, and chairs that he would have thought possible. He'd always prided himself on being quick on his feet, reactive, graceful even. A dozen times he wanted to tear the glasses off, he was so disoriented. He'd been overwhelmed by sound in the cafeteria. Paying for the meal had been an exercise in frustration. He could more or less tell the coins but the bills he had…he'd shoved them in his wallet without thinking about them. For all he knew, he'd paid for his five dollar lunch with a hundred dollar bill. At the end of the day, he had food on his shirt in quantities not seen since he'd been a baby.
He was exhausted at the end of it in ways the worst hunt had never made him feel. There was no adrenaline rush, no numbing endorphins pumping through his bloodstream.
Sam had been going to bed early for weeks, even at Pastor Jim's. Dean and John had discussed depression, lingering injuries. Lack of stimulation since Sam couldn't indulge in his favorite pastimes of reading or surfing the internet.
It wasn't lack of stimulation, it was overload. Given Sam's temperament and energy level it was a wonder he hadn't exploded or lashed out.
Dean wanted to lash out. He would have happily killed something, anything. The urge to get in his car and just drive was strong, undeniable. To take Sam with him was inevitable.
They couldn't outrun this.
Sam was going to need a place, one place, to come to terms with this. He needed the home he'd always wanted.
And Sam was as much Dean's home as anything else in his life. It wasn't a new revelation, not even a surprise, but Dean's home had been portable, movable, fluid and adaptable. His father had been right about one thing, if they were going to continue to be on the move, Sam couldn't go with them, couldn't go with Dean, couldn't be left in a hotel room or with friends.
Dean had no doubt that Sam would come out on top of this thing, but when he did, there should be a reward for it, somehow…some way.
And without really thinking about it too much, Dean shifted all his considerable talent at hunting and problem solving into finding a way to make it happen.
Sam was eligible for disability. And maybe it was fate or someone looking out for them, but God love the fact that Sam had been in college for four years, had held a job. Gotten good grades. There were social security benefits available to him. Not much, but every little bit helped. Angela pointed him to grants, trusts, funds, and assistance programs.
It took him all of two hours to realize that he was going to have to do a little work on his own credit rating, among other things. Like actually having one. There were forms and qualifying documents he needed, birth records, school records, medical records.
Getting an apartment, qualifying for a mortgage…none of that could be done on other people's credit cards and all of it came down to one thing. On paper, for the moment, Dean Winchester didn't exist. Not alive anyway.
What made that kind of an asset while hunting now made pretty much everything else impossible.
He had a mess to clean up in St. Louis. Undo the misidentification. He put in a call to Rebecca, and Dean didn't hesitate to pull the sympathy card at all. He and Sam had gotten her brother free of a murder rap. In Dean's book, they owed them, owed Sam.
It said something about the caliber of Sam's friends that they agreed without hesitation.
But to clear his name, Dean had to go to St. Louis. Which meant explaining why and how and a dozen other things that he really hadn't meant for Sam to ever find out about, but of course, they were Sam's friends.
"I need Rebecca to, you know, be there to tell the cops I'm me and not a dead guy."
"I can do that. Dad could or Jim…"
"You said their dad is a big shot corporate lawyer type."
"He deals in international law mostly," Sam said dropping his head. "Look, Dean…clear your name. I'll help any way I can. You know that…but…"
"What, don't ask for their help? I mean who else was there? Becky's my alibi… "
"That's not what you're going to ask them for. I know you, man. Don't do this."
Dean didn't even pretend to not know what Sam was talking about. Nice big house. Place in Europe, two kids in Ivy-league schools. The Warrens had money. A lot of money and if Dean had to go hat in hand and ask for it, so be it.
"You could call them and tell them I'm full of shit," he challenged and Sam glared at him then looked way. "Sam…God knows, we, you, me, and Dad, we've got more pride and stubbornness than half the rest of the world, but this one…Sam, I've got no credit history and yours isn't long enough. We can't live out of the car and any apartment I could afford making $15 hour at a garage isn't going to cut it, even with a disability check. Even I can't hustle that much pool. Now, if you've got a better idea, dude, I'm all ears."
"I…I don't. But I haven't really thought about it…just. Please, Dean...clear your name, but the rest -- they're friends."
For some reason it just pissed Dean off. "And friends help friends, like Jim…or Caleb or Missouri, you know? What, you're afraid of what they'll think of you? Tough. What they'll think of me? Tougher. Sam, you are blind. That's putting a little crimp in our usual style," he snapped. "You do whatever you wanna do. I'll be back in a few days, if they don't just throw my ass in jail."
He hadn't even made it to his car before he was regretting every damn word. But regret didn't change anything.
The whole four days it took, Sam wouldn't answer his phone or return Dean's calls.
Dean got back before Sam's day ended, waiting for him when Sam came home. He sat at the table, watching Sam maneuver easily, comfortably, into the room. But he tensed as he entered and Dean didn't move.
"Yeah. How did you know it was me?"
"Smelled you. Dude, you need a shower," Sam said, folded up his cane by the door and gripped the back of the chair across from Dean. "Did you get your name cleared?"
Dean shrugged and nodded and then realized Sam couldn't see him. "Yeah. You know, there's probably still a few cops in Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee...maybe Wisconsin that would like a piece of my ass, but…I'm officially not dead any more."
"That's good," Sam said carefully.
"They uhm…Zach and Rebecca send their best. Mr. And Mrs. Warren, too. I uh…"
"What?" Sam said tightly.
"You've got good friends, Sam. They're good people. I uh…I didn't scam your friends," Dean said finally. "I did tell them -- told Rebecca the truth. Most of it. That you'd had an accident, that you are blind, that--"
"You asked for money."
It should have stung more than it did if only because Dean had been completely prepared to do just that. "I didn't have to. Sam…the only thing I asked them to do was help clear my 'death'. Everything else…they just offered."
"Sam…Zach was facing 20 to life on top of losing his girlfriend. Becky would probably be dead. That wasn't a deal, a case, I even wanted to look into, or thought was something we should look into. That was you…all you. For your friends. Because they are your friends. And it's not like they are hurting for cash, you know?"
Sam pulled the chair out and sat. "What…everything?"
Dean couldn't sit with Sam looking both reserved and pale. He got up and paced a little. "Uh…guarantee on a place...a house, condo, whatever we decide. I didn't ask…but uh, Mr. Warren…well, he's kind of like you with the questions. So…"
Sam leaned over, elbow on the table, and fisted his hair, pulled his glasses off and rubbed at his eyes.
Dean crouched beside him. "Sammy, I swear. You can call them. I didn't have to ask them for a damn thing. They just…Mr. Warren just wrote up a fancy draft and contract. We find a realtor, a house or a condo and…he'll cover it. Cash. No mortgage...no…hassle. You saved his kids's lives, Sam."
Sam's hand flicked out fast but gently, covering Dean's mouth -- but only briefly. "No…no. We did that...you and me," Sam said. "Remember? It's what we do. What you do. I just…"
"What, Sam? Seriously, man. Just think about it. If it still bugs you, you know, we don't use it. Ever. We'll find another way."
"That's not what I mean." Sam was breathing a little too fast, chewing on his thumbnail. "This isn't what you want…"
"Dean…$15 an hour, fixing somebody else's cars? Permanent address, phone number, income taxes? What happened to hunting things, saving people? The family business? A girl in every town, moving on, hustling pool…killing evil. You know, when I asked you what you wanted other than this, I was thinking, a life of your own, maybe a girl, maybe kids. Not being stuck…not…" he fell silent, shook his head.
Dean closed his eyes and rubbed at them before getting to his feet. "Sam…you asked. I know what I said. I didn't want you to leave when this was done. But this isn't what…or how, I wanted that--"
His turn to stop, to think. Had it only been a few months ago that they'd had this conversation? Sleep for a month, go back to school…those had been Sam's dreams.
…you're going to have to let me go my own way...
Sam asking him again, what he wanted. "Ah, Christ, Sam…" Sam lifted his head and Dean made himself look at Sam's eyes, pale and empty of color, the milky sheen, and red around the edges at the moment. His own probably weren't any better. He cleared his throat, sat on the edge of the table and gripped it. "You and me and Dad, together, hunting demons…but you know, Sam, mostly it was just us together that I wanted. And I know you don't…didn't want that, but things, things have kind of changed. I mean, maybe you haven't noticed it, but you are kinda blind."
That got a startled, choked grunt of laughter from Sam, the flash of teeth. "'Kinda blind'? God, Dean…you are just such a…"
"Jerk. Dick. Pain in the Ass?"
"Those too. You're such a Mom, Dean."
Dean grinned. "I can live with that. Look Sam…you wanted school and a career and--"
"No. Shut up for a second would you?" Sam said and rubbed at his face with both hands. "I just…I know you'd do anything for me, okay? But giving up your whole life…even part of it, to babysit me? It was great when you were twelve and got a dollar an hour."
"Bull shit. You think Dad paid me to watch your pudgy little ass?"
Dean reached out and ruffled Sam's hair until he jerked away. "Look… you've got a few more months here. We'll figure it out. I'm not going anywhere, Sam…not…anytime soon. You know, if you decide, later, you want…"
Sam reached out, arm sweeping until Dean gripped it. His fingers dug into Dean's arm and his head dropped again. "You know…back when the visions were hitting me hard. The whole…Yoda and the Force thing," Sam said on a breath that wasn't quite full, that hitched in the middle. "And I said I was scared?"
Dean leaned in, put his other hand on Sam's shoulder then along his neck, Sam's pulse raced under his fingertips. "Yeah…I remember."
"I'm more scared now," Sam said.
Dean squeezed his shoulder gently, then again. "You're scared? Dude, I'm going to have to get a bank account. I'm going to have to commute, for Christ's sake. All you have to do is not walk into walls and try not to whack people with your cane."
Sam's laugh may have sounded more like a sob, and his eyes didn't shine the way they used to, but his smile was the same, and he'd obviously not exhausted his pretty extensive repertoire of name calling.
And if Dean was a little scared about it all as well, well, at least Sam couldn't see it on his face.
Notes: I'm taking a lot of liberties with the whole training for the blind deal. The Hadley School does exist as a non-profit in Winnetka, IL, and I've glanced over their curriculum. However, any reference to their financing, the actual physical facilities, and even much of the referred to training itself is either anecdotal, drawn from other sources, or pure speculation on my part. I'm not trying to mislead anyone, nor am I averse to correcting blatant errors, but I'm also really clear that I'm not really writing a story about a school for the blind or what that training entails, or even how rock solid realistic either the training or their expectations are, only how Dean and Sam deal with their altered circumstances. So, a certain amount of defacto Television magic wand waving (like ever-present cell and wireless connections) should be taken as a given.
You know…so, feel free to call it as you see it.
And also, should anyone be interested…this universe is open. Got an idea? Go for it.