Title – Sanctuary
Summary – After a hunt that changed their lives, Sam and Dean seem to be living a quiet life. They have normal jobs, they live in a normal town and have a house with a picket fence. But nothing is quite as it seems. Outsider POV Curtain Fic with Hurt!Sam.
Rating – PG13
Genre /Spoilers – Gen. None.
Warnings – Language (nothing explicit) and a little gore if you're sqeamish.
Word Count – 3900+
Disclaimer – I don't own Supernatural that privilege belongs to CW, Kripke and Co, I'm simply borrowing them for a while. I'm not making a profit, this is just for fun and all the standard disclaimers apply.
A/N- A massive thank you to scullspeare for betaing this and for all her advice and hard work. I've tweaked and tinkered so any mistakes are mine. This was written for the Sam-focussed hurt/comfort fic challenge at ohsam for harrigan's prompt. I've snagged some car knowledge from a scene in 3.07 because my own research confused me. Any medical jargon you see is taken from the internet and may not be accurate.
“You really wanna know what I think? I think that that storm nearly destroyed this town. People were killed and others just...well, they weren't themselves that day. I think this whole town and everyone in it wouldn't be here if it wasn't for those brothers. We owe them more than we can ever repay and I know that everyone in this town feels the same. Everyone.” - Sheriff O'Neil
The quiet sneaks up on him. And he hates it. It usually happens about this time, when the laundry and dishes are done and he's making a start on his homework.
Standing in the middle of the living room, Daniel looks at the TV and thinks about turning it on. He likes the background noise, but it hasn't worked right since they moved here and the static gives him a headache.
Picking up the file from the kitchen table, he opens the front door and collapses onto the porch swing outside. The winds ruffles his hair and he can hear birds chirping and the deep purr of car engines as they drive past the house.
He breathes it all in, deep into his lungs, and then pulls out his interview notes from the file. He's read them a thousand times already, but he's missing something and it's pissing him off that he can't figure out what.
The hinge on the porch seat squeaks as Daniel rocks it gently. He's looks out onto the garden; at the lawn he hasn't mowed and the fence he hasn't painted. At least that's some sort of early teenage rebellion that his mom catch bitch at him about later.
“Are you trying to drive me insane with that damn squeak?”
Daniel smiles at the mostly fake tone of annoyance and turns his head. Looking over the picket fence that separates their houses, Daniel can see that Dean's working on a car, his head and arms hidden deep inside the hood.
“Do me a favour and fix it would'ya!”
“I kinda like it.” Daniel uses the toe of his busted-up sneaker to swing the seat a little harder, the pitch rising as it drills deeper into his ear. “Besides, if I fixed it, it'd feel like I was taking away its voice or something.”
“You're spending way too much time with my brother.”
Daniel snorts. It's easy to talk to Dean. It always has been, ever since Daniel and his mom moved in next door nearly...six months ago.
“I could use a hand. Unless you'd rather have some alone time with your porch swing.”
Daniel shakes his head, places his notes inside the file and walks down the steps. Dean doesn't need help with the car, and they both know it. “I was gonna swing by anyway and talk to Sam about my assignment.”
“That local history thing you're doing?”
“Yeah. I've done a few interviews but I'm hoping he can help me flesh it out a bit.”
Daniel tried to talk to Dean about it. But he was probably too focused on the car at the time because all he got was one-worded answers. “I mean, if Sam's feeling up to it?”
Right now Daniel wishes he could see Dean's face. He likes to think he's gotten pretty good at reading his new neighbour. It's always easier when Sam's involved, the walls tend to crumble a little. Especially now, with everything they're going through.
There's a long pause and that's never a good sign.
“Sure. Not a problem.”
But Dean's voice sounds off so Daniel drops the subject. He knows not to push his luck.
As he gets to the bottom of the driveway, Mrs Shoemaker's piece-of-crap old car comes into view. “Seriously? Again?”
“What?” Dean's standing by the passenger side door, wiping his greasy hands on an old rag. There's a smudge of oil across his forehead and it's all over his jeans. Despite the grin, he looks exhausted, like he's been pushing himself too hard. “One day, it'll be like she's brand new. Won't it girl?” Dean taps the side panel fondly.
That car will never be fixed. Daniel's just not sure if Mrs Shoemaker is breaking her car on purpose, or if Dean just likes her homemade pie that much.
Dean waves his hand at the tool box next to the car and then disappears back under the hood. “You wanna hand me that socket wrench?”
Daniel kneels down and picks it up before joining Dean, who's staring at the engine like he's waiting for it to tell him what's broken.
“It still making that noise?”
Dean nods and then turns to face him. “So, what do you think?”
Daniel stares at Dean and then at the engine, trying to remember all the things Dean's been teaching him. “Out of tune carb?”
“Really?” Daniel asks, because that was a guess. Well, an educated one - Dean's a pretty good teacher.
Dean reaches inside the hood and points. “What's that?”
“The intake manifold?”
“Very good. And on top of that?
Dean reaches over and ruffles his hair. His Dad used to do that, and Daniel has to blink away the sting in his eyes.
“You're a natural, Danny.”
Daniel ducks out of Dean's reach and smooths down his hair. “I'm not a kid. And quit calling me Danny. You know I hate it.”
Dean smiles softly, like he's remembering something. “It took Sam a lot longer than you to learn this stuff. Books he knows, but engines? Not so much.”
It's the kind of gentle ribbing he's heard from the brothers before. If Daniel didn't know any better, he'd think that Sam was behind them, rolling his eyes and whispering jerk.
Dean's gaze drops to the floor, his hand scrubbing the back of his head like he needs a second to pull himself together.
“Sam's gonna be OK.” It sounds so lame that Daniel wishes he could re-wind time and take it back. But looking at Dean, shoulders slumped and eyes haunted, Daniel knows that Dean needed to hear it.
“I'm his brother and it-” Dean takes a stuttering breath and lifts his head. “It should have happened to me. Not him.”
Dean looks wrecked, like he's wounded or something. His whole body looks heavy, like he's been carrying this around for a while.
Daniel has no idea what to say, or even if he should say anything. This is the most open and honest thing Dean's ever said to him.
But then Dean clears his throat and slams the hood closed. “It's getting kinda late. But maybe tomorrow?”
Daniel nods. He's pretty sure Dean's not talking about the car any more.
“I won't ever forget what they did that day. They didn't know any of us back then but they risked their lives to help this town. They saved my daughter's life and countless others. I offered them the house so that they had somewhere to stay and recover. No matter how many times those boys have tried to get me to accept something for rent, it'll never happen. That house is theirs now. It's the least this town can do.” - Mr Kincaid
When he shows up the next day, there's a car he doesn't recognize parked in driveway, next to Mrs Shoemaker's. Dean's nowhere in sight but the double garage is open and he can see the Impala, hidden underneath its usual black car cover.
Why Dean chooses to drive the truck instead of that cherry ride, he has no clue. Well, maybe one. He feels bad for forgetting about Sam.
Gripping the straps of his backpack, Daniel climbs the stairs and then up to the front door. He's about to knock when he hears voices. He stops dead in his tracks.
“-want me to get you something?”
That's Dean. Despite the casual tone of his voice, there's a hard edge of worry there too.
“I'll wait it out.” Sam's voice sounds clipped and strained.
Daniel can't see either of them through the closed wooden door. But he can hear Dean's heavy work boots as he crosses the room, probably towards the couch where Sam's sitting.
There's a long pause and Daniel can picture Dean staring down at Sam, trying to read the pain on his brother's face. He does that a lot.
“I want to know the second it gets too much.”
There's a beat, and Daniel can practically hear the way Dean drags his hands down his face, the scratch of calloused skin against the rusty beard he's growing.
“It'll work, Sam.”
“But what if it doesn't?”
“Then we'll figure it out.”
There's something hiding behind Dean's words. Fear maybe. Or doubt.
“I just want you to be prepared for the worst. A lot would have to change and I just-”
“It's gonna work. End of subject.”
Dean's tone is gruff. Daniel would bet all the money he has that it's not the first time that Sam's tried to have this conversation. That's probably why Dean's been working more on the cars.
“You heard what Phil said last week, right? The report was clear-cut. No one knew it was gonna collapse. No one.”
“I should have known.”
“Why? Because you're my brother? Shit happens, Dean. I was just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“Drop it, Sam. I mean it.”
It's a warning. Stern and final. Daniel can feel the atmosphere cool from behind the door.
Sam huffs loudly and then he hears Dean's boots clunking as he walks around the room. He's probably giving Sam the remote for the TV, a pile of magazines, a drink and whatever dusty old book Sam needs for his researching gig that he never actually talks about.
Deciding that it's now or never, Daniel knocks and Dean opens the door.
“Dan my man! Come on in.”
Daniel walks in, nodding at Dean and then at Sam, who's sitting on the couch. He pulls his gaze back to Dean as it starts to drift to Sam's leg that's propped up on a pile of cushions. He's not good with blood and gore, and every time he sees the bandages he's reminded of the gaping wound that runs down Sam's shin. It makes him want to puke his guts out.
His mom doesn't blink twice when she sees it, examining it closely as she redresses the wound and scribbles notes on a chart that she takes back to hospital. But he figures she's probably seen worse, being a nurse and all.
“Your mom called.” Dean's rummaging for something in a bowl that's filled with car keys and receipts. “Said she got stuck with a double shift last night. I told her you were working with Sam on your paper today, and that we're having a barbecue tonight. She's gonna swing by later.”
Daniel kinda figured she'd do that. There's always a neighbour who checks up on him, no matter where they're living. “You want me to do anything?”
“Nah, we got it sorted.” Dean looks over at Sam, and they just lock gazes and then nod at each other. Sam offers a half smile that seems to melt some of the tension in Dean's shoulders. It's weird; they don't even talk most of the time.
Dean claps a warm hand on his shoulder. “I gotta head into town. Need to drop off Al's car and swing by the Watersons' farm. They're having trouble with the tractor again. I'll be a few hours but you know the drill. Just...call me, if you need anything or if...just call me.”
It's not the first time this has happened; that he and Sam have been left to babysit each other. He's just not sure if his mom's the mastermind or Dean.
Dean's gaze flicks once more to Sam, like it's difficult for him to leave, then he's gone. Outside the truck's engine growls loudly as it pulls out of the drive and down the road.
“It's not just lives they saved that day. That...storm caused all sorts of damage. They helped people to rebuild their lives; whether it was re-fitting a window or helping people to understand what happened and encouraging them to move forward. They've also safeguarded this town so that something like that can never happen again. They're heroes. Plain and simple.” - Mrs Lancaster
Sam's clearing a space next to him on the couch, slamming shut a old book and dropping it to the floor, out of sight. “So, this assignment. Extra credit, right?”
“Yeah, kinda.” Daniel lets his backpack slide off his arm and onto the floor. “I mean, I don't need it. I'm doing real good in school. I just-”
“I get it. It's hard when you move around a lot.” Sam sounds sorta sad, like he's remembering something he wished he hadn't. It reminds Daniel of the times his mom sneaks into his room late at night, whispering stories about his dad when she thinks he's sleeping.
Sam shifts around on the couch, a wince of pain deepening the lines around his eyes.
“You OK?” Daniel asks, worry gnawing at his insides. “Shall I call Dean?”
Sam shakes his head, blowing out a steady breath through his chapped lips, his eyes slipping closed. Daniel's seen Sam do this before, it's something about controlling his pain.
He finds himself staring at Sam's leg, at the oozy looking bandage that covers the giant open wound. He knows that Sam hurt his leg in the storm, knows it happened in Phil's house which suffered a lot of damage.
Sam's had surgeries, set backs and complications ever since. Right now, it's compartment syndrome. At least he's pretty sure that's what his mom called it. Something about dying tissue and nerve damage. They're trying to save his leg.
Sam's voice makes him jump and he pulls his gaze away.
“It's kinda gross, right?” Sam says, big hands shifting the position of his leg on the cushions. “Dean puked when he first saw it.”
Daniel snorts, suddenly feeling more at ease. “When will you find out if it's working?”
“Tomorrow.” Sam carefully lets his back sink into the couch, his shoulders dropping a little as he finds a comfortable position. “Got an appointment with a specialist, thanks to your mom. She's pretty great.”
“Yeah, I guess she is.” Daniel knows she works hard, but this is first time he's really seen what she does. He gets it now; why it's not just a job to her. It makes all the long nights alone in their house seem worth it. “It's gonna work, Sam. I know it will.”
He doesn't want to imagine what losing your leg would mean or how much it would change your life. But at the same time, deep down in place he doesn't like to visit or remember, he knows that sometimes the worst thing imaginable does happen.
Sam smiles, nodding his head. And if Daniel didn't know any better he'd think everything was fine. But Sam won't look him in the eye, and Daniel can't shake the feeling that Sam's hiding something. Like maybe Sam knows that it's not working and he's trying to cushion the blow.
“I know that you and Dean hang out a lot.” Sam's voice is soft, his eyes shiny. “He needs a friend right now. So thank you.”
Daniel ducks his head, feeling a little embarrassed. He's never made friends easily, he's always the new kid in town. But for whatever reason, it's different with Sam and Dean.
Sam clears his throat. “So, you wanted to talk to me about your assignment?”
Daniel pulls out some paper and a pen from his backpack. He likes to keep detailed notes. “Well, I thought maybe I could ask you a few questions about the storm? Fill in some blank spots.”
“What do you remember about that day last year?”
Sam looks down at his hands, fingers knotted in his lap. “Well, Dean and I were on a roadtrip back then. We were just passing through town when the...storm hit. It happened fast, there wasn't any time to warn anyone. Just about everyone in town was affected in one way or another. People were in shock and they didn't understand what had happened.”
“So what exactly did you do?”
“Well, we've had some experience dealing with this sort of thing and we just...made people feel more like themselves. But the scale was like nothing we've ever seen before. We just tried to help as many people as we could.”
Sam shifts a little on the couch, pain stealing his breath. He closes his eyes and it takes a minute before he carries on. “But honestly, I feel like the town has done so much more for us. Being able to stay here during my recovery, and have so much support from everyone. It's...more than we ever expected.”
Daniel nods. He's heard nothing but good things about Sam and Dean since he started his interviews. But he can never get a straight answer about one thing. “But it was a storm, right?”
Sam turns his head and his gaze bores into Daniel's, his brow furrowed like he trying to figure something out.
“It's just that a lot of people don't remember what happened that day and some refused to talk to me about it. I had a look at the weather report and there was no forecast for a storm that could cause so much damage.” Daniel's palms suddenly feel sweaty. “That's kinda...weird. Right?”
The muscles in Sam's jaw bunch and his hands smooth down his hair, pushing it off his face. He looks weary, kinda uncomfortable, like he wants to say something important but can't seem to find the right words.
When Sam finally looks at him, his gaze feels like it's pinning Daniel to the couch.
“Daniel, you're a good kid. Real smart. You've got this whole future ahead of you and you can do anything you set your mind to. But I just think that this time, you need to let this slide.”
But now Daniel's never felt this curious about anything. Ever. He asked a straightforward question and he's basically being told to back off. So if it wasn't a storm, what else could have happened? Does that mean the whole town is keeping a secret?
But there's something about the way Sam's looking at him that sends chills down Daniel's spine. It reminds him of how his mom looked at him the day they drove to the ocean-front and sat for hours in a car so hot he couldn't breathe. He knew all along that she was trying to tell him about his dad.
Sam looks worried, like he's desperate for Daniel to believe him, like he knows exactly what could happen if Daniel doesn't.
“You gotta trust me, OK? You need to drop this.”
Then the phone rings.
It makes them both jump. Daniel reaches for the cellphone on the coffee table and hands it over to Sam who still looks dumbstruck.
Clearing his throat, Sam's gaze flicks to the phone's screen and he then rolls his eyes.
“We're fine, Dean.”
Daniel can't quite hear what Dean's saying but Sam's lips are pinched.
“Yes, you left me the pill box. I'm looking at it now.”
Daniel sees it lying on the coffee table next to a tall glass of water. The box is separated into seven compartments, each lettered with a day of the week and filled with different coloured pills.
Sam looks down at his watch. “Not for another hour.”
“Fine. OK. See you later.”
Sam stabs the end call button and lets the phone drop into his lap.
Daniel reaches for the glass and the pill box and passes them to Sam. “I know it's annoying as hell, being checked on all the time. But it's kinda nice, y'know? Having someone to worry about you.”
Sam's washing down a red pill with a mouthful of water. Then he's smiling, with a flash of dimples. “You really are a smart kid, huh?”
Daniel feels his cheeks blush. “I'm not a kid.”
Sam just laughs.
“I want them to know that we're all here for them, that they can lean on us. It's our turn to take care of them this time. I want them both to take it easy, to settle down and retire - for good this time. They've been through so much and they deserve to be happy. I just...I want what's best for them. I truly do.” - Mrs Shoemaker
In the end, it's not a hard decision.
Dean returns, arms full of steaks, and they light the huge barbecue in the backyard. Sam sits on a chair, his leg propped up, as he rubs salt and pepper into the meat.
Daniel's left to babysit the barbecue and he watches how easily Sam and Dean work together, like they've been doing it all their lives. Sam passes Dean the plate of meat while Dean hands Sam the veggies he's just picked from the garden for the salad. Then they're swapping utensils, knives for tongs, and it feels like he's watching a silent well-rehearsed dance.
His mom shows up just in time with a cherry pie and Dean's eyes light up like he's a little kid in a candy store. They all sit outside on the deck, eating steaks and salad, watching the sun as it slowly sinks into the horizon.
His ears are filled with the crackle of meat cooking on hot flames, guitar riffs that stream out of the open kitchen window and the hum of constant chatter. It's nice. Real nice.
Daniel looks over at his mom. She's talking to Sam about some book she's reading, little crinkles around her eyes deepening as she laughs. She looks relaxed. He can't remember the last time she's looked this happy.
Dean's flipping yet another steak onto the barbecue's flames, arguing with his brother about whether Sam's allowed to have a beer. Daniel's mom is trying, but failing, to play peacekeeper.
Unnoticed, Daniel slips inside the house.
He walks over to the couch and picks up his backpack. Rummaging inside, he pulls out his pen as well as the file of notes from all the interviews he carried out for his assignment. He writes For Sam and Dean onto the front of the cardboard file. Then he places it neatly onto the coffee table right by the remote, where it can't be missed.
It's the right thing to do. They need it more than he ever did.
“There's something about this place, it draws you in and doesn't let you go. Maybe it's the welcoming sense of community, how people say hello and actually care when they ask how you are. Maybe the town's past has left a legacy in its wake; one of pulling together when times are tough - an extended family that will always have your back. Whatever it is, I know I'm not the only one who's happy to call this place home.” - Daniel Johnson