blue_bells: BY <lj user="chosenfire28"> (Supernatural :: Somewhere to Begin - dar)
[personal profile] blue_bells
» Title: Somewhere to Begin - Part II (MASTERPOST)
» Author: [profile] _bluebells
» Artist: [personal profile] chosenfire28
» Beta: [personal profile] ladyknightanka, [personal profile] mishaphappens
» Pairing(s)/Character(s): Michael/Adam, Dean/Castiel, Lucifer/Sam/Gabriel, Raphael/Balthazar, Bobby and others
» Warnings: NC-17/R for violence, torture, gore, dub-con, angelcest, language, alcohol, and character death
» Spoilers: All seasons, AU from Season 5 finale
» Summary: Adam Milligan was just another casualty of the engine of the Apocalypse. After Michael breaks them out of the Cage, Adam is accidentally thrown into the future where peace has finally settled by strange circumstances. With his memories sealed to protect his sanity, Adam learns the censored, Apocalypse-free version of the life he's forged with a suite of archangels, a crabby adopted Uncle, and brothers he never knew he had, but this has all happened before and will happen again.

PREVIOUS / NEXT


“Did you consider sending him back?” Castiel asks later that afternoon as Dean is pulling one of the pears from the grove in the backyard.

Dean glances at the dark clouds when the wind begins to pick up. The rain is going to start again soon.

“May have crossed my mind,” Dean confesses, watching Castiel consider the pear hanging at his shoulder. It comes free with a healthy snap, jostling rain from the leaves and branches.

When Castiel holds it out to him, there’s water beaded in his hair, on his skin. One raindrop runs from his temple to his jaw and for a long moment, Dean forgets about the fruit.

The moment passes.

Their fingers barely brush when Dean takes the pear, shoving it in his jacket pockets.

“And?”

Dean looks between the branches. Bobby loved this stuff and he was going to make it up to the hunter when he woke up.

“It would probably be a bad idea right away, but… I can’t stop thinking about what it means for the other him. Where’s the other Adam?”

Castiel sighs, wearily.

“I don’t have the answer, Dean. I can tell you that even if I wanted to, I couldn’t send Adam back to the time where he belongs.”

Dean frowns at him, temporarily abandoning his reach for a ripe target he’d spotted closer to the trunk.

“What? Why?”

Castiel shakes his head, eyebrow raised in a helpless shrug like it’s beyond his understanding as well.

“When I touched his soul, it was already… crawling. Or being dragged. I can’t displace him because Adam is already on his way somewhere else.”

Dean stares at him, horrified.

“Well, do something, Cas! What if Lucifer’s pulling him back down?”

Castiel shakes his head again. I don’t have the answer.

“I can’t help him. I don’t know how, and affairs in Heaven—”

This is the most Dean has seen of Castiel in the last three months and he does not want to hear about the angel’s day job.

“Figure it out!” he almost shouts and points in a random skyward direction. “Tell Mike, he’d help you.”

“Dean,” Castiel says, quietly, “What if this is the way it’s supposed to be? He doesn’t belong here.”

Dean’s lip curls down into a scowl.

“He belongs with us, Cas.”

“What if your true brother returns once he’s gone?”

Dean digs his heel in the soft soil and grinds his jaw. He has an idea now how Castiel feels when Dean pushed unknowable questions on him, but Dean was just a human, damn it. Castiel was a freaking angel; they were supposed to see further than humans, have universal intuition, or at least pretend a hell of a lot better than the rest of them.

“You don’t know that would happen.”

“I don’t,” Castiel concedes.

“Look,” Dean sighs, hands on his hips and it’s awkward when his pockets are bulging with fruit. “I want Adam back, but what if we let him go and nothing takes his place? What if we let him go and he just disappears?”

“That would be… undesirable.”

“Cas, he’s my brother. The universe owes us one.” Dean points accusingly at the angel. “Let’s not even get into your brother and what’ll happen if he loses Adam.”

Castiel deadpans, staring off into the distance as they both consider the potential fall-out with Michael. The guy had a lot of power, but little need or inclination to exercise it lately. Dean doesn’t want to see the day that changes.

“That would be highly undesirable,” Castiel says.

Dean rips a few leaves from the pear tree and rolls them between his palms.

Castiel is pensively tracing the lines of the leaves on the branches when Dean glances at him out of the corner of his eye. The angel’s soft, familiar frown annoys him and he imagines himself smoothing it out with his thumb, even while he wonders what Castiel’s thinking.

He clenches his hands over his pockets instead.

“So, that’s it. You guys figure out a way to lock Adam down because he’s staying.”

-*-


It’s early evening the next time they’re all awake and Adam’s strong enough to push himself to sit. There’s a lot of noise coming from the kitchen, cupboards clicking open and shut, the hum of the fridge door swinging wide, and Adam can smell tomatoes in the air.

A man on the seasoned side of middle age is sitting in an armchair by the windows and reading by a lamp that’s providing the only light in the lounge. His face is creased, bearded lip curled in concentration with his cap pulled low over his eyes. The book in his lap is thick and weathered.

Adam doesn’t recognise him, but there’s no instinctive alarm or the sense of caution he always feels with strangers, so maybe he knew this guy after all.

The man looks up from his book, hand dropping from his chin. He smiles, small and careful, just a quirk of the mouth, but it looks honest and Adam finds himself sort of smiling in his own greeting. He quickly feels sheepish and just nods.

“How you feeling, Princess?” the man asks, voice a little watery.

‘Princess’?

Adam blinks, pushing the blanket around on his knees.

“We’ve met, haven’t we?”

“Bobby,” the man nods back. “You sleep all right?”

Adam glances around the room, then back at the kitchen when a kettle starts whistling and he can hear someone distinctly cursing.

“You in there?” Bobby prompts, peering at him curiously.

“Yeah,” Adam says, quickly, “Yeah, I’m… fine.”

The way Bobby’s looking at him makes Adam think he may have missed something big, but something on the wall separating the lounge from the kitchen catches his eye.

A line of photographs: grapes and vineyards, from what Adam can see by the low light, and it reminds him of the set his Mom used to hang in the corridor between their bedrooms.

This is not Adam’s house.

“Where are we? Whose house did I crash in?” Adam asks.

Bobby clears his throat, shifting awkwardly in his chair as though such a simple question was suddenly the wrong thing to say.

“Well, uh… what’s the last thing you remember?”

Adam looks back to the kitchen, remembers slumping to the table. He remembers pizza boxes and beer. He turns back to Bobby.

“I passed out, didn’t I? I’m so sorry, man, I’m not usually such a lightweight. I don’t even know whose house I’m in, but thanks for your couch. My mom’s probably freaking out wondering where I am.” He smiles, apologetically, and starts pushing to his feet.

He doesn’t even recognise the clothes he’s sleeping in and he feels worse for having to have borrowed some other guy’s threads, but they fit him pretty damn perfectly. He pats himself down, but he has no pockets and he can’t see his bag or keys anywhere in the lounge.

“You seen my phone? It’s small, black, Nokia….”

The guy, Bobby, looks pretty glum.

“Goddamn that featherhead. Went back too far,” Bobby curses under his breath.

Adam strains his ear.

“Sorry, what?”

“Dean!” Bobby calls, a pinch of exasperation in his voice.

Another man rounds the wall from the kitchen, the source of all that noise. He looks like he’s in mid or late thirties. He’s tall, stocky, and good looking in that smooth chiselled way that Adam expected to see on city billboards. The sense of familiarity is stronger when the new guy’s green eyes flicker between Bobby and Adam.

“Oh, you’re awake,” Dean says, looking pleased, but Adam catches the flash of guilt that passes over Dean’s eyes before he smiles. Suspicious. “How you feeling?”

“Good,” Adam answers automatically, “You?”

Dean blinks, surprised, and his mouth shrugs.

“Peachy. Hope you like tomato soup. It’s from a can, but I threw some bread in, so tonight we’re eating gourmet.”

Adam frowns, unable to kick the sense of déjà vu.

“Is this your place?” Adam asks.

The loose nonchalance evaporates from Dean’s expression. The guy looks to Bobby with a silent question, eyes narrowed in a frown, and Bobby sighs.

“He was talking about his Mom,” Bobby says. “Cas could have sealed too far.”

Dean’s mouth has pursed in a firm line and his eyes are serious when he looks back to Adam.

“Adam, do you know who I am?”

Adam looks between them and the déjà vu is really confusing the simultaneous sense that he’s at least two pages behind.

“Uh… Dean. Right?” Adam glances at Bobby for confirmation. “Was that right?”

Dean groans, drags a hand down his face, fingers scraping the lines of his mouth before he sighs. He crosses the threshold into the lounge with the weight of someone carrying bad news and Adam tenses when Dean seats himself on the couch’s arm, hand propped on his knee.

“Adam, buddy. There’s – “ Dean huffs a laugh and shakes his head. “This sucks. What year is it?”

“Two thousand and nine.”

“It’s twenty fourteen,” Dean replies without missing a beat.

Adam blinks. He looks at Bobby’s wary face and back to Dean’s serious look, not to be argued with. He blinks again.

“What?”

He didn’t understand the joke yet, but he’s sure it’ll be hilarious when they get to the punch line.

“Here.” Bobby pushes to his feet and shuffles into the front foyer to a line of jackets hanging from the wall in the dark. He comes back with an unfamiliar wallet, leafing through the cards and holds out what looks like a driver’s license.

With Adam’s photo.

Adam grabs it. That’s his photo all right, and it’s not by much, but damn, he looks… older: the lines in his face longer, sharper. Must have been the lighting at the DMV. The expiry date says ‘2016’, what the….?

“Twenty fourteen?” he blurts and Dean shrugs, nodding. Adam looks at the license. “Who the hell is ‘Adam Remington’?”

“That’s you,” Bobby supplies unhelpfully.

Adam glares at the man because he has no idea what the hell is going on here and he does not like that floundering twist in his gut.

“My name’s Adam Milligan and I’m nineteen, not –”

“You turned twenty-four last month,” Dean says.

Adam is silent for a moment and looks between the two men wearing the same serious, almost apologetic expression. It’s starting to make him mad.

“Did Josh put you up to this? Son of a bitch, I’m going to kick his ass, he knows I’ve got finals next week and I’m not in the fucking mood.” Adam goes to stand and makes a surprised noise when his legs don’t quite hold. He flops right back down onto the couch. “What the hell?”

Dean sighs.

“Adam, you’ve gotta rest. You just came out of a really bad….”

Adam’s eyes narrow at him.

“Really bad what? I’m keeping this license, by the way.”

Dean and Bobby look at each other and Dean spreads his hands in a shrug. Bobby quirks an eyebrow beneath his cap, as though saying, why not?

“You’ve had a rough couple of days, but before you decide to do anything stupid, there’s a few important things you need to know,” Dean says.

Adam rolls his eyes. Dean gets the hint to continue when Adam nods expectantly and Dean looks about to when they hear a key turning in the front door.

Adam backs up on the couch when one of the tallest guys Adam’s ever seen rushes in, jacket dark with rain, and almost slams the door behind him. He heads straight for Dean. This guy is also ridiculously good looking, lean with chin-length dark hair, and he does not look happy.

“Dude, you were supposed to call me back,” the guy accuses angrily.

Dean groans under his breath and steps up to meet him. Adam wonders if Dean could take him; Dean was big, but this new guy was… huge.

“Sammy, not now,” Dean says, tightly.

Sammy. Why did that almost sound familiar?

“What’s going on?” The new guy, Sammy, looks between them, seeming a little less angry. When he sets eyes on Adam they take on a different kind of anger: protective and with such a rush of compassion that Adam subconsciously releases his grip on the cushion, despite the guy’s towering size. The man wasn’t only tall, but he filled out that frame with lean muscle; he was pretty imposing. Thank God he looked so concerned.

“You okay? Dean wouldn’t explain what happened with Michael over the phone—“

Bobby backhands Sammy in the chest as Dean smothers what looks like the impulse to strangle his giant friend’s neck.

“Put a freaking lid on it,” Dean snaps in an over-dramatic hush as though Adam wouldn’t hear him at that righteous volume. “He can’t remember.”

Adam watches the dark looks Sammy and Dean exchange with growing suspicion.

“Who’s Michael?” Adam asks and straightens taller on the couch as something else occurs to him. “Actually, I don’t think I got an answer to my first basic question about who you all are and where the hell I am.

Sammy stares at him like he’s grown a second head. Oh, not him, too. His expression turns incredulous and he looks at Dean.

“Is he serious?”

“Serious as a heart attack.”

Sammy’s face turns deeply sympathetic. “Oh, Adam.”

And then the giant pushes past the other two men and Adam startles when he sits beside him on the couch.

“Whoa, whoa! Hands!” Adam pulls back because it was way too early in the relationship to be holding hands and exchanging valentines.

Sammy sits back on his side of the couch with a considerate nod, seeming almost professional, and holds a hand to his chest.

“My name’s Sam. I’m your brother.”

“… What?”

Adam stares, for the second time, stunned at the curve balls being brought that evening. Didn’t these things come in threes?

Sam gestures again to himself, then the other two men.

“I’m Sam Winchester and this is Dean. We’re your brothers, John’s sons. His other sons.”

Prank or no, Joshy best friend or no, that was too much.

Adam glares at Bobby.

“And who are you, the monkey’s uncle?”

“Hey,” Dean growls in clear warning, but Bobby was pretty unmoved, eyebrows raising under his cap like he was amused.

“Hey yourself,” Adam grits out, “I don’t know who the hell you guys are, but turn off the cameras, tell Josh he can have his money back. I’m going home.”

“Adam.” Sam makes an abortive gesture like he was considering reaching for Adam’s shoulder. “Please, hear us out.”

“John didn’t have any other sons.” Adam glares at him.

Sam sighs, nodding, and glances at Dean like he’s looking for confirmation or maybe support.

“Yeah, well, we didn’t think he had any other kids, either. But then we found you when you were nineteen and we went through nine rounds of ‘this is your life’. Trust me. We’re your brothers.”

“Prove it,” Adam says, not missing a beat.

“He took you to baseball games on your birthday. He took you fishing. He never wore cologne. Dad had a scar right here.” Dean gestures across his jaw, down a short line of his throat. “It was covered by his beard most of the time, from a hunting accident when Sam and I were young.”

Adam remembers the scar, saw it when John would visit that handful of times and draw Adam in for a hug. He was always clean-shaven.

“He wore aftershave,” Adam tells them.

Dean, Sam and Bobby exchange a funny look, impressed and bemused.

“Figures. He had a lady to impress,” Bobby says and Adam bristles.

“Hey, that lady is my mom. Watch your mouth.”

Something changes in the air of the room and the three other men almost draw in to themselves. It’s the same doomy reluctance Dean had on his shoulders when he tried to convince Adam that it was 2014.

“Adam—” Dean starts, but Sam interrupts, hushed and reluctant.

“Dean, do we have to? Tonight? I mean, he just—”

“He wants to call her, Sam,” Dean says, as though that tells the story.

“Why can’t I call my mom?” Adam asks, clipped because he’s getting pretty damn tired of their cryptic remarks between the lines.

This time it’s Bobby who takes the mantle, easing himself down into the closer armchair by the couch with a small noise of effort. It looks like the problem’s in his hip. Adam resists the impulse to reach out and help the guy; he doesn’t even know him.

Bobby sets his cane aside, folds his hands on his knee and Adam’s starting to feel nervous at the length of time he’s taking to choose his words.

“Don’t you make any fucking jokes about my mom. Bung hip or not, I will end you, old man,” Adam promises.

Bobby’s mouth wrings sympathetically and Adam’s stomach drops out.

Oh God, what?

“Adam, I’m sorry to have to tell you, son, but—your mother. She passed when you were nineteen.”

Adam charges off the couch, shoves past Dean when the guy reaches for him and fights the weakness in his muscles to keep standing.

“Screw you guys,” Adam throws over his shoulder, chest tight with rage and a tight fear that he can’t explain. The adrenalin fuels him to move faster than Dean, than Sam the giant, and he grabs the first coat off the rack, yanks the front door open and storms out into the evening rain barefoot.

They’re calling after him, there’s water in his eyes and wind howling in his ears as he all but runs down the stone path. He has no idea where he is, where he’s going, but he has that fake ID and he’s not going to wait around to hear more crap against his life and his mother.

His mother. How the fuck could they say that?

There are a few lights in the distance, but no street lamps and, from what Adam can tell, the compacted dirt he steps onto is the road.

The problem with running in the rain, in a pitch black night, is that even with shoes it’s precarious. Without shoes and with unreliable muscles (what the hell had he drunk?), Adam takes two steps, sinks to his ankles in the mud and falls over with the inertia of his own weight.

“Adam!” he hears Dean shouting, like he’s used to barking orders and he expects that Adam will turn tail and go back.

He tries to pull himself from the muck and startles at the sudden hands on his shoulders, lifting him up and effortlessly out of the road.

It’s not Dean. It’s not Sam or Bobby.

The guy who steadies Adam on his feet is as tall as Dean, but with hair that looks almost black in the rain, streaming down into his eyes. It’s too dark to see more from the dim light of the house and Adam thinks it’s crazy that he should find the strength, the grip of this guy and the surprising heat of his palms, familiar.

Adam reaches for the hands on his shoulders and Dean rounds the corner.

“Adam!”

Adam stumbles, the hands on his shoulders abruptly gone and he looks back, confused, discovering himself alone on the muddy road. There was no way he had imagined that.

“C’mon, dude, get out of the rain,” Dean is saying as he reaches Adam’s side, boots squelching through the mud. He squints through the rain at Adam, who feels just a little bit bad that Dean’s as drenched as he now is.

Adam searches Dean’s face, feeling the cold of the rain starting to seep in.

“Why would you guys say all that stuff? You think it’s funny to tell somebody his mom’s dead?”

Dean looks down, rain streaming down the lines of his eyes and nose. He glances back at the house hesitantly.

“Our mom’s dead, too. I was four, Sammy was six months old. House fire.”

Fuck. The rain tastes cold and clean at the corners of his mouth. Adam searches Dean’s face and hopes the guarded, almost angry look isn’t an act (because if it is, it’s a damn good one).

“I’m sorry,” he says, eventually.

Dean nods quickly like he doesn’t want to dwell too long on what he’s accepting it for.

“Yeah. I’m sorry about your mom, too.”

Dean claps a hand at Adam’s shoulder.

“… Is she really dead?” Adam asks.

Dean doesn’t nod, he doesn’t say he’s sorry, but the dim light of the house throws the shadows of his grim expression in a way that Adam understands. He swallows the thick grief that springs to his throat, tries again when it swells, but it breaks with a curse and a fierce sting behind his eyes.

“Fuck,” he snarls, covers his face with his hands, doesn’t even consider that it won’t matter in the dark and the rain. “How—“ He takes a breath when his throat closes. “How did it happen? Was I there?”

Dean pauses and Adam’s surprisingly grateful for his answer.

“You know, why don’t we get back inside? We can talk about that later.”

Adam finds himself mumbling some kind of agreement and numbly follows Dean back into the house, trailing mud on the steps. Sam throws thick, dark towels over both of them as soon as the door’s shut.

“Dude, don’t ever run off like that again. Especially in the storm. You’re probably one of the tallest things around for miles and this place gets a lot of lightning,” Sam says and his hand lingers like he’s fighting the urge to ruffle the towel in Adam’s hair. He steps away, eventually, and Adam towels the rain from his face.

“I’ll walk with you next time,” Adam says, not really feeling the humour.

His face already feels puffy, Dean’s respectfully looking back to the kitchen as though he’s remembered he was attempting to put together something of a meal, but Sam’s hands are on his hips and he’s watching Adam as if expecting him to break and sob into the circle of his big brother’s arms at any moment.

Adam clears his throat, finds it still tight, and glances at Bobby watching them from the armchair by the couch.

“I think I should wash up or – yeah.” Adam says and starts to shuffle along before his voice can break around the lump burning in his throat.

Sam immediately points upstairs before Adam’s even hunched his shoulders down for his face-saving exit.

“Door facing you when you reach the top of the stairs. We’ll leave your clothes outside.”

Goddamn. Sam was so… helpful and eager.

“Thanks,” Adam mutters and absently regrets the mud he’s already trailing when he gets to the foot of the stairs. “Sorry. I’ll clean that up.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Sam waves him off.

Adam slowly ascends the stairs, towel wrapped tightly around his shoulders to stop him from dripping as much as possible, but he’s leaving a wet, muddy trail and he’s going to have to backpedal as soon as he’s clean.

He glances over the banister when he’s almost at the top and sees Dean walking into the kitchen, towel around his neck. Sam is following, saying something urgent and hushed, but Adam doesn’t think he wants to hear anything else they might have had to say tonight.

It was the year 2014, he had brothers, but his mom was dead.

Where the hell had the last five years of his life gone? What was going on?

His mom was dead?

That still wasn’t really processing. There were so many things he needed to know, but there was already a pinch of tension building behind his eyes. He honestly didn’t think he could take any more bad news tonight. There was a lot he was going to need to verify when he was thinking clearly again.

Sam, Dean and Bobby.

Bobby wasn’t so bad; he actually seemed like the steadiest of the three. Dean had run after him in the rain and Sam had towels for them like an overgrown mother hen. If he had to have brothers, he supposes he could have done worse.

-*-


“Dean,” Sam is saying as he stands by the stove and completely forgets to stir the pot.

He’s staring at Dean with that look bordering on broken-hearted because he’s worried Dean’s about to do something devastating and stupid and he’s not going to let Sam stop him.

“Dean, what are you doing?”

Dean pushes the salt back in its cupboard and looks in further for the pepper. Weren’t those two things that were always supposed to stay together?

“You know, Sam, it occurred to me this could be a blessing in disguise.”

“He doesn’t remember. He doesn’t remember anything of the last five years; I’ve been there. I know what that’s like. Dean, we’ve got to tell him.”

Dean’s jaw pulls tight and he lets Sam see how indifferent he feels about it, handing over the pepper.

“Tell him what?”

Sam gestures with the pepper grinder like the answer’s frustratingly laid out before them.

“Well, I noticed you didn’t mention anything about what we do. How we met him. When are you planning on telling him?”

“Sammy, if you had a chance to do over with Jessica: sunshine and lollipops and the boogie monster was only a figment that got shafted before you were any wiser, would you want that life?”

Sam snorted an incredulous laugh.

“No. Because I don’t get that life, I don’t get a do over –“

“Ignorance could be bliss,” Dean says.

“But it’s a lie, Dean.” Sam glares at him. “I can’t believe we’re even talking about this, we’ve been here before! We fight so that everybody else can have normal, but the monsters hunt us down, eat us alive and drag us to Hell. We can’t let him leave his head in the sand.”

Dean’s mouth shrugs.

“You’re forgetting Adam’s the one with a day job and the scariest things in these parts are weeds and frost. He could do this.”

“He should at least know. He has to protect himself. There are still things looking for us every day,” Sam says meaningfully and Dean knows exactly what Sam is thinking of.

Dean wants to think that Sam could be wrong this time. He looks into the cupboard again.

“This is a Uni Ville. We’re ninety minutes from the nearest town with a name. He’s got a new identity and a life that hasn’t exploded in the last nine months.”

“What about his mom? He’ll go looking for answers.”

“Both Adam and his mom are officially missing persons; that story is closed.”

“So, how do we know she died? How the hell are you going to explain the last five missing years?”

Sam is being completely useless at the stove, so Dean grabs the pepper and bumps his brother aside.

“Taxes.”

“Taxes?” Sam’s voice is not convinced.

“Death and taxes. They had to run because of some bad people in their life, his mom got sick on the road and Adam called Dad. The rest is history. Without the ghoulish flavour.”

“So, where is she buried?”

“He cremated her. Scattered her ashes somewhere with a view. And he fell off the roof trying to fix a tile yesterday; if he’s lucky, the amnesia’s only temporary.”

“You’ve really thought about this, huh?” Sam doesn’t sound so pleased about his brother’s accomplishment.

Dean grins smugly because Sam sounds as though he’s at the door of defeat.

“Okay,” Sam sighs. “Even if your story holds up, aren’t you forgetting something important?”

Dean looks up from stirring the pot to consider it, staring at their reflection in the window.

“The archangel in the room?” Sam prompts.

Dean thinks about it. Then he thinks about it some more.

“… Dean?” Sam presses and that worried note is back in his voice. “Dean, you can’t keep Michael out of this.”

Dean purses his mouth thoughtfully and arches an eyebrow at his brother to test how well Sam is receiving his brainwave. Sam looks torn between horrified and fearful, probably for Dean’s welfare, but he is definitely not on Radio Dean tonight.

“Dean, trust me, that’s something out of your control. Everything else about your story holds water, but where does Michael fit in? He’s not going to leave Adam alone.”

“He already left,” Dean says.

Sam stops, frowning.

“He did?”

“Yeah.” Dean shrugs it off, like it was an easy feat. “He’s not good for Adam right now. We told him. He understood. He left.”

Sam opens his mouth, a confused sound croaking out. He shakes his head, frowning helplessly like he still doesn’t understand what Dean couldn’t have made plainer.

“He understood? Really? And he… left. What? Just like that?”

“Don’t look so disappointed.”

“But it’s Michael, he – I mean, he…. Really? He just left? He’s coming back, right?”

“My bet is he already has, he’s just not showing his face.” Dean looks knowingly up at the ceiling like the angels were in the web of cracks and the corners.

Sam makes another annoying noise that’s somewhere between a sigh and huff that sounds like well, I’m trying to warn you. The ladle clatters gently against the pot rim as Dean drops it and rounds on his brother.

“Look, I don’t have all the answers, all right? I don’t know if it’d work, but shouldn’t we give him a chance? After what Cas did, I don’t think those memories are coming back.”

“If that’s true, Michael will be pissed.

Dean forgets his gentle appeal, eyes narrowing.

“If Mike’s worth his salt, he’ll buck up and get through it. Or he can do what angels do best and disappear, and Adam still gets his sunny life.”

Sam is quiet for a tense moment.

“You know, I’m sure Cas would come by more often if things in Heaven weren’t so—“

“Why are we talking about Cas?” Dean cuts his brother off sharply before Sam can take that any further. “We’re talking about Adam and his stupid angel. Are you in or out?”

Sam throws up a hand in defeat; it slaps down heavily to the counter and bears his weight.

“You know me. I’m always in.” Sam watches Dean flick the heat off the stove and transfer the pot to another coil. “Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if Adam was oblivious and Michael was still around. You know? He’d be safe.”

Dean grunts.

“There’s that.”

“So, are we telling Adam about Michael or not?”

It takes a long moment for Dean to answer.

“Hey, you said it: Michael will turn up eventually. He can explain himself when he gets here.”

“You’re a jerk, you know that?” Sam sighs, quietly.

“I’m holding down the fort, bitch, what’s your excuse?”

“I’m the world’s tallest Jiminy,” Sam says, drolly, and he smiles when Dean punches him lightly in the shoulder as if to say, thanks, man.

Things settle after that, Sam leaning on the counter beside him, comfortable quiet only broken by the occasional murmur from Bobby in the other room on his cell. Dean had no idea who he was talking to, but he had a feeling Bobby was calling in help to take over the job they’d detoured from when they got Michael’s call.

Bobby never let them down and it’s been too long since Sam and Dean were in the same room together; just the two of them. Dean steals a glance at his brother while he stirs the pot and Sam’s looking up and around the neat space of the kitchen with its small wooden cabinets and warm yellow walls.

“It’s a nice house.” He smiles at Dean. “It’s weird being here, you know? Adam has a house.

Dean can admit: it does feel weird that any of them should own property. Bobby had entered their lives already in possession of his salvage yard, so that was different. It only feels weird that one of his brothers lives with the same roof constantly over his head because he’s thinking of Adam like them. The kid didn’t have their life. He needed four walls, a stove, a bed, a mantle with memories, and maybe a favourite corner to rest in.

“The Impala’s our home because of Dad. Adam didn’t have that. He’s not like us.”

-*-


Hair still dripping wet from the shower, Adam snuck across the hall in the fresh clothes left at the bathroom door. True to his expectation, Sam already cleaned the muddy trail Adam left behind. He could still hear their voices downstairs and, unless these were the sort of people who sat around in rooms with the lights off, he made the safe assumption that he was the only one on the second floor.

There are only two other doors.

Shutting the first door behind him, Adam fumbles for the ancient light switch and finds himself in a bedroom. There’s an unmade queen bed, paintings on the walls, desk by the window and another door that proves to house a small ensuite of a toilet, shower stall and sink.

Adam grabs the laptop sitting on the desk. He startles when it wakes from its snooze with a whir of surprise and Adam finds himself staring at a desktop picture of his mother.

It’s not even the best picture, but something that looked like it had been snapped at somebody else’s party where the light was dim, her hair was mussed, and her skin shone in a way Adam knew she would have laughed at, but she was smiling. She was enjoying herself.

This must have been his computer. There wasn’t any reason for anybody else to have her picture.

Adam’s fingers linger on the screen. He doesn’t even remember this picture.

God, he missed her so much already.

Then he remembers why he was sneaking around in the first place and pulls up a web browser.

A quick search under his mother’s name pulls up a news bulletin for missing persons with pictures of both himself and his mother. Adam checks the date and finds it was posted five years ago just after his nineteenth birthday.

There are links in his search results to online entries his mother left for friends, greetings, condolences, but nothing after the missing person’s entry.

He checks the date in the corner taskbar of the screen and discovers it’s August twenty-first, 2014. He checks web news articles and global time stamps, but they all confirm the same thing: it’s 2014.

How the hell did this happen?

Searching under his own name brings up more results: class and club sign-up lists from his later years in high school, an online newspaper article about the time he won the track meet at the athletic competition alongside the other winners of the day, Facebook entries with photos of himself and friends, events he’s responded to, and comments he’d spammed.

Nothing later than the missing person’s entry.

It’s as though he and his mother just dropped off the face of the Earth.

And Adam had resurfaced here, wherever here was.

Adam may not have been a computer science major, but he has enough faith in technology that there was a random application out there that could tell him where he was.

Two minutes later there’s a crosshair whirring across a black and cyan image of the world. A decreasing counter promises Adam it’s going to zero in on his location within the next forty seconds and it looks like the sort of thing a fake spy would use.

The counter and crosshair stall for a moment and he sees the internet signal has dropped out, but after a few seconds, it comes back to life. He’s unsurprised to find himself still in the United States, but when the image refreshes, zooming in on the South-West Coast, the application freezes again. Adam waits, smacks the monitor along helpfully, but then the floorboards creak and he closes everything down, snaps the laptop shut and ducks behind the door.

This was crazy. These guys said they were his family and they were nothing but warm… but Adam didn’t know them. He only had their word.

After a minute of holding his breath, nothing comes through the door. Peeking out, the hall and landing are empty, but there’s still that other room to explore.

It’s empty when he ducks in, shutting the door behind him again, and where the other room was plainly for sleeping, this was clearly a study.

There’s a fireplace in the corner suggesting it may have once been a bedroom, but now there’s a metal grate over it and a large desk designed to wrap around two walls. Two large monitors are suspended side by side over what looks like an impressive set-up, but Adam’s more interested in the papers stacked by the keyboard and the tall filing cabinet.

Adam had really hoped it wasn’t true. It was still possible this entire house was an impressively detailed set piece to buy him into the story his apparent brothers downstairs had sold (he still couldn’t justify a solid reason why it could be worth it), but every paper has a timestamp of 2014 and the name ‘Adam Remington’.

And apparently he, Adam Remington, had a utilities bill due in a week.

He was going to have to ask what was with the new identity.

He wonders what he does to pay for everything, but the filing cabinet apparently needs a key and all he can see are paper and stationery on the desk. Goddamn prudent security, what the hell was everyday him so guarded about?

He’s getting more nervous every second that passes and he has to leave his back to the door. He’s straining his ear for the creak of someone on the wooden steps or turning the loose, squeaky doorknob.

While searching through a tub of paper clips, palms sweating in the rush to stay undiscovered, the hairs stand on the back of his neck.

He looks over his shoulder. The study is empty, but then he sees the row of photos along the back wall.

His mom is front and centre; it’s the same photo on the laptop from the bedroom.

On the right is a picture of Sam and Dean on the hood of a black, late 60s Impala before a harvested field: it looks like early afternoon and they’re huddled close, bottles of beer in hand. Dean’s frowning and Sam looks concerned, mid-conversation of something serious. A second photo hangs beside it, clearly the same moment, but closer up. The concern is gone, Dean’s cracked a wry grin, looking towards something ahead, and Sam’s eyes are shut, laughing.

On the left of his mother was another set of pictures. Adam recognises himself sitting cross-legged on the same Impala’s trunk. He’s studying something small and long in his hands. There’s a man Adam doesn’t recognise around his brothers’ age: dark hair, denim and brown leather, leaning against the Impala’s back. He’s also peering at the thing in Adam’s hands, but Adam’s more attentive to the way his photo self is letting the guy lean flush against his side. The second photo has a tighter frame, close enough for Adam to see the calm, relieved look in his photo self’s face as he slouches into the other guy’s space. The guy is smiling as though he knows just what Adam’s thinking and it makes him happy.

It’s bad enough the stranger was handsome.

There really weren’t too many ways a person could misinterpret that smile – the unaware glow that came over people when they thought they’d discovered the one true secret to the rest of their lives. Adam knew he’d looked at his girlfriend the same way. He’d seen that glimmer in her eyes, too, as he held her tight and she’d giggled against his lips, but that had turned out naïve.

Apparently five years had changed Adam more than he realised and now he just felt betrayed, blind-sided by his future self.

Adam steps up to the picture, fingertips tracing against the glass. Despite everything, this was the first piece of evidence grounding him in this other place. It’s his face, but it’s not his memory. There’s an uncomfortable twist in his gut at the sense he’s peering uninvited into somebody else’s life, stealing a glance of something nobody else was supposed to see, and his eyes are drawn back to that guy beside his photo self.

Was that… Michael? Who was Michael? And where the hell was he?

He jumps when the study’s single bulb flickers and that’s all it takes for Adam to drop the papers on the desk, push the stationery back and book it out of there.

Stepping lightly down the stairs, he sees Sam and Dean are in heated discussion at the far end of the kitchen, crowded around a pot on the table. They don’t see him when he reaches for the set of car keys he noticed earlier off the hook by the fridge.

Bobby’s facing the window, muttering into his cell phone, a hand on his hip. Adam just hopes the old man’s too slow to react when Adam’s halfway down the road in that truck he saw sticking out of the garage.

He’s got the driver’s license in his pocket, a wallet that’s probably soaked through, but as long as the money inside doesn’t run and bleed together, he’ll be fine. He saw plastic with his signature on it. If he hadn’t changed his spending habits in the last five years, there should be enough to get him a ticket back to Minnesota and look around for –

There’s someone standing at the truck’s driver’s side door when Adam finally finds the light to the garage.

Startled, he almost slips in the mud he’s trailed on the concrete.

“Fuck!” He recovers and grasps the pick-up’s tray to catch himself. “Who the – how many of you guys are there?”

It’s neither Bobby, his brothers, nor photo Adam’s personal space friend who’s standing there, head tilted at Adam like Adam’s the suspicious one who was skulking in the cold, unlit garage.

“Adam,” the man says in a surprisingly low, rough voice. “I’m glad to see you’re walking. And cursing.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but who the hell are you?”

“… I’m Castiel.” The guy frowns, suspicion shifting to concern. “We’re acquainted.”

Adam looks the guy over from head to toe. He’s dressed like he’s just returned from the office; he must have worked in town. What sort of a name was ‘Castiel’? Mediterranean? Eurasian?

“What are you doing here?” Adam asks.

It’s Castiel’s turn to look him over. He frowns, as though he sees something worth his concern, and Adam’s hand self-consciously comes to rest over the wallet in his jacket.

“… Perhaps we should go inside?” Castiel motions to a door behind him that must have led into the house. If only Adam had known that before he snuck out the front and gotten soaked all over again.

“No, I, err.” Adam motions to the truck, keys jingling in his hand. “I was just running into town, to get a few things. You go ahead. After I’m gone.”

He mentally smacks his forehead. Way to not sound suspicious, Milligan.

Castiel’s face pinches with the look of I know something is up and it should be down.

“I don’t think you should be driving, Adam.”

“Oh, I have a license.” Adam presses himself against the pick-up’s side. He considers sliding towards the driver’s door, but the other guy is directly in Adam’s path and he doesn’t look inclined to move.

“I believe you should not be driving,” Castiel says again, firmly, like Adam hadn’t heard him the first time.

“And I’m not drunk.” Adam glances over his shoulder, expecting to see Sam or Dean round the corner at any moment. “Look, I’m sorry, but I’ve really got to go—“

Castiel looks from the truck, back to Adam, and his mouth purses indecisively.

“I will consult your brothers.”

And then the guy vanishes into thin air. Thin air.

Adam stares at the empty spot, slack-jawed, and whirls to look around the empty garage.

What the fucking fuck….?

Wait, wait, he had an empty garage and… that meant he could… take the truck. Just take the truck, Adam….

The fuck vanishing dudes?

Take the truck, the mental order bubbles above his shock and he grasps the door handle loosely, old door hinge swinging with a rusty whine. He shakes his head of the uneven way the world tilts when he slides into the driver’s seat. His hands are trembling as he fumbles with the keys and a part of him recognises the symptom of shock, thinks that getting behind a wheel in the rain might just be a bad idea, but there’s something wrong with this house, these people and dudes who vanish into thin air.

Adam is not sticking around for that.

The truck roars out of the garage, taking the reversed turn just a little too fast in the sliding mud and he almost runs Sam over when he rounds the corner from the garage.

Fuck.

Sam jumps back and they exchange a look of disbelief because shit, that was a close call, but then Sam straightens, long hair sticking wet to his face, Dean runs through the front door, and Adam remembers why he stole the truck to begin with.

The clutch is sticky, but it roars from first through to second fast enough for Adam to take off down the road before Sam can reach the truck. He grimaces through the guilt of the mud no doubt sprayed in their direction when the back wheel spins out.

He floors the pedal.

The road is bumpy and he has to correct more than he’d anticipated for the way the truck slides in the thick mud. He bounces in his seat, jarred with a groan, when the road unexpectedly dips, but then he’s climbing the dark hill to those faint, distant lights through the rain. He checks his rear-view mirror and there are no car lights, nobody’s chasing him.

He risks a small breath of giddy relief and wrings his hands around the large, thin steering wheel.

“Turn around,” Castiel says, from the passenger seat.

Adam almost runs the truck off the road.

There’s a lot of frantic wheel-turning and shrieked curses before Adam saves them from a possible, aquaplaning death.

Castiel frowns at Adam like he’s disgruntled at his reaction, but Adam is shaking like a Goddamn leaf when he yanks the parking brake on, suspecting they’ll slide back through the grass anyway.

“Are you trying to kill me?” Adam snarls, clinging to the steering wheel. “How the hell did you get in here?”

Castiel looks over his shoulder, back towards the cottage.

“I can’t stay, but your brothers say you’re running. Why are you running?”

“Who the hell are you?” Adam shouts, gesturing wildly in the space of the cold, truck front seat.

“I’m a friend, Adam,” Castiel says, slower this time, searching Adam’s face. “I’m an ally. Please turn the truck around.”

“You disappear! Dude, you disappear – what are you?”

Castiel’s lips form a gentle ‘O’ of surprise and Adam doesn’t think the guy means to let his shock show.

“I – I think your brothers would like to speak to you.”

Adam backs up against the door when Castiel reaches for him, but he can’t duck away from the hand that settles on his shoulder. The world rips away under his feet and Adam reels from the heaviest anvil of déjà vu as though he was just flipped upside down and righted with an about-turn.

The falling sensation leaves bright spots fading from his vision and his ears are whistling as he finds himself on his knees on the dry floor of the cottage with a painful thump.

“Adam?” Bobby shakes his shoulder. He catches Adam as he almost tips onto his face.

“Dude. Disappears.” Adam squints up at Bobby’s face as the fog of sense memory fades and Bobby looks at something in the windows, expression falling in exasperation.

“Aw, hell.”

-*-


“Cas. I had a plan.”

“I didn’t realise you intended to obscure his involvement in the Apocalypse–“

Castiel cuts off at Dean’s angry shushing noises. Dean looks back over his shoulder towards the lounge and leads Castiel to the downstairs spare bedroom, shutting the door behind them.

“We didn’t discuss what we would seal from his memory. I went too far,” Castiel apologises.

“Cas, you’ve given him a great chance for something and I have a plan.”

“He’s seen me. I don’t want to wipe his memories again while he’s still healing.”

“Okay, it could be dangerous –“

“Yes. Does your plan have a contingency for this?”

Dean shrugs a shoulder.

“I’ve got my best guys working on it.”

-*-


“I’m not crazy!” Adam’s shouting as Bobby pushes him down into a chair at the dining table and Adam shoves at the hands on his shoulder. “The guy disappeared right in front of me! Then he came back – don’t give me that look!”

Bobby wrenches his face into what he hopes is something calm and understanding, but it doesn’t reduce the heat of Adam’s glare. He pats the young man’s shoulder one more time before he pulls his hands back and stifles a sigh.

“Son, just take a minute,” Bobby encourages, grateful that Sam reappears at his side at that moment with a glass of water.

“Have a drink,” Sam implores, nodding at the glass until Adam takes it, though he sets it straight down on the table.

“Sorry about the mud,” Adam mumbles, glancing at Sam’s ruined shirt. He shakes his head. “Please, guys, I’m not crazy.”

“Who’s calling you crazy? C’mon, we just want you to calm down.” Sam has his ‘soothe the victim’ voice on at max and with that sincere look of compassion, Bobby’s glad even Adam doesn’t seem able to withstand it. Adam’s shoulders sag with guilty defeat.

“Kid, you’ve got to stop running off on us. I know you got questions, so just ask,” Bobby urges, because if they had to drag Adam a third time in from the rain, Bobby would make the boy stand on the step and be hosed down.

“I just have to get back, I have to see—”

“Where, Adam?” Sam asks.

“Home. My home.”

“Okay, okay,” Bobby shushes and he thinks he does a fair job of it when the youngest Winchester – Milligan – huffs and reluctantly raises the glass to his lips, though he’s trembling. “But not tonight, okay? For God’s sake, Adam, you just woke up a few hours ago.”

Adam’s taking steady gulps, he doesn’t need to nod. Bobby’s doing well. Then Sam goes and opens his big, sappy mouth again.

“You’ve been through a lot, Adam—”

Adam swallows thickly, deep frown returned, and pushes the glass away from him.

“Is anybody going to explain that to me? Why can’t I remember anything? What happened?”

“You fell off the roof,” Dean says, entering the kitchen.

Bobby steps back and Sam sits on the table’s edge by Adam’s arm as Dean and Castiel join them. Dean’s expression is set in stone and Bobby recognises that look – it was good to know that somebody thought they knew what they were doing. He just hopes Dean passed the idea by Castiel so whatever he was planning still bore a lick of sense.

“What?” Adam’s frown turns confused.

“It’s an old place, you’re always doing repairs,” Sam adds, softly, like it’s not Adam’s fault that he can’t help himself.

“My guess is you were checking the tiles. They’re slate, hard to get around these parts.” Dean shoves his hands in his pockets and shrugs. “We’ve been telling you to get an expert who knows how to do that stuff, but you’ve got a thick head.”

“You and your brothers,” Bobby says and raises an eyebrow at the eldest. “If Dean took his own advice, you’d all be in much better shape.”

Dean gives him a little knowing smirk and there’s gratitude there, too, that Bobby’s playing along.

“Retrograde amnesia,” Adam murmurs, looking between them and Bobby nods. “Five years. Goddamnit.”

“I know this is hard, Adam, your life’s changed a lot, but you’re with family. We’re here to help you,” Bobby says.

“Anything you need,” Sam adds.

Bobby resists the instinct to slap Sam upside the head because Sam’s in the most difficult position to be making that offer. They didn’t even know how long Sam could stay, but Bobby also knew that Sam meant what he’d said: he’d give Adam whatever he could to help, while he was able.

Nobody tells Adam his memories could come back. Bobby’s lied enough to these boys for each other over the years. They don’t know if the scars will hold, only hope they do, for Adam’s sanity.

“So, are you really my uncle?”

Bobby realises Adam’s talking to him. Adam looks so earnestly confused, Bobby softens with pity.

“Not by blood, but he’s as good as,” Dean interrupts, before Bobby can say anything, and it makes the older hunter stir uncomfortably warm and fuzzy inside. He coughs around the feeling, makes a face when the sound catches wetly.

“I knew your daddy,” Bobby explains.

Adam looks between each of them, face dawning with understanding.

“You’re all here from my dad’s side.”

“Better late than never,” Sam shrugs with a smile and Adam nods, but he can’t quite return it. Boy just lost his mother and the life he knew all in one day, now he had these surrogate idjits to stand in, but Bobby wagered it was a hell of a lot better than nothing.

Adam’s hands knot between his knees. He raises his eyes to Castiel.

“Did I imagine it? I don’t have a bump, but… did I hit my head that hard?”

“I understand you hit your head quite hard, Adam. Things may be confusing for a while. You may also experience some soreness. You will be fine,” Castiel says and Bobby credits the angel that he doesn’t look to Dean for confirmation.

“Are you a doctor?” Adam asks.

“No,” Castiel says.

“Then why do you sound so sure?”

“Nothing’s broken,” Dean steps in, before Adam can chase the angel down that rabbit hole. “You’ve got no signs of a concussion and if you were bleeding internally, you’d be dead by now.”

“Great.” Adam sounds anything but grateful. “Good to know if something serious had actually happened, I’d be in capable hands. Do you guys live here, too?”

They all look to Dean.

Dean blinks, face blank, and Bobby can see the wheels spinning in his head.

“Your brother and I were actually passing through on a job.” Bobby gestures between himself and Dean. “I own a Salvage Yard and Dean fancies himself a mechanic.”

“Huh. Any good?”

Dean nods approvingly of Bobby’s story – it was actually true – and takes his cue.

“We specialise in the classics. Don’t ask us to touch anything fresh out of a dealer, though, we don’t hotwire computers.”

Adam makes another sound of interest. He’s buying it so far, but Bobby catches the way he looks between Dean and Castiel, the angel almost flush behind Dean’s shoulder. It was their stance they’d reflexively taken over the years so they could mutter to each other and check their stories when improvising a plan, but Bobby can see how else it could look.

“What about you?” Adam asks Castiel, checking Dean’s face for his reaction.

“I’m… a strategic liaison officer,” Castiel says.

Dean’s eyebrows rise in surprise, impressed.

“He works with the Government; thinks it makes him better than the rest of us,” Dean jokes.

Judging by Castiel’s frown at Dean’s ear, the joke is lost on him.

“I don’t think that.”

Adam cuts in, thankfully.

“So, um – which part of the Government, Castiel?”

Bless the kid’s soul, fish out of water in a room full of strangers, but he still had the instinct to mediate between Dean and the angel.

Castiel looks at Adam, face serious and empty of all expression.

“I cannot speak of it.”

Adam’s face breaks into a grin and Bobby feels some of the stress lift from his chest.

“Sounds awesome. Can we ‘not speak of it’ some other time?”

This time, Castiel does look to Dean for confirmation, but Dean is a beat late in supplying the answer.

“Perhaps. No,” Castiel amends.

“If he told you, he’d have to kill you,” Dean says and Bobby rolls his eyes.

“Way to pique his curiosity, Holmes and Watson.” Bobby shakes his head. “If you actually were a spy, our country would belong to the Chinese by now.”

Adam actually laughs then and he’s looking between them, relief and amusement in his eyes. He looks last at Sam and his smile softens, relaxed.

“What about you, Sam?”

Sam only has to think about it less than a moment. He returns his brother’s smile, blinding and genuine.

“I’m… actually on sabbatical. I did lots of odd jobs before, but I studied law at Stanford.”

Adam perks up, eyes wide.

“Stanford?”

Sam shrugs with a smile and looks down at his hands playing in his lap. Bobby wonders if he’s thinking of Jessica.

“I had to drop out though; personal reasons.”

A knot of tension loosens in Bobby’s chest, hearing Sam say that. It’s the way he delivered it, modest, but confident, still smiling, that tells Bobby he’s really moving on. Finally.

He never thought he’d see the day he believed it.

“So, what do I do? We’ve got mechanics, suits, and a journeyman in the room: how am I paying for the bills?” Adam asks.

Dean and Sam exchange a look and shrug. It’s Sam that tells him.

“Well, Adam, you’re a student.”

Adam blinks at him as though that wasn’t the answer he was expecting.

“Of what?”

Dean pulls off a fair impression of looking sheepish.

“We’re not sure how it works, but you’re studying medicine and you’ve been posted out here in the country. It’s your first job. You said a lot of you guys get sent to the country towns in the first round.”

“Though not everyone gets sent to Napa.” Sam grins with a conspiratorial wink.

Adam’s face turns incredulous.

“We’re in Napa? I’m a freaking intern in wine country?”

It’s not really Napa, but that was their inside joke: this little town with its upstart vineyard was their own little wine country, so Adam had got them all into the habit of calling it ‘Napa’.

Sam and Dean exchange another look that doesn’t do any credit to their story, so Bobby clears his throat, then clears it again because, God darn it, he had to do something about that darned cold.

“You said something about ‘residency’, but honest to God, Adam, we just know you work up at the local Uni Ville clinic and they’re grateful to have you. We’re darn proud of you, boy.”

“What is an intern and residency?” Castiel murmurs to Dean, who shrugs, just as clueless.

“I’m in wine country!” Adam crows, laughing victoriously and he actually bumps fists with Sam.

Sometimes, like the present, it was clear to Bobby that John didn’t raise this boy. At least Adam wasn’t asking for high fives.

Then, just as abruptly, the elation drains from Adam’s face and he looks at them all in apprehension.

“Wait, if I can’t remember anything, I can’t practice. Shit, if I can’t practice, they’ll kick me out of the program, and – shit!”

“Hey, Adam.” Sam settles him down in his chair. “Hey. Don’t panic. We don’t know anything yet; let’s not worry just for tonight, okay? We’ll take care of it in the morning. Let’s be glad it wasn’t more serious.”

Adam’s nodding and he shuts his eyes, consciously working through the effort to not freak out and Bobby thinks he manages it pretty well.

“Yeah, okay. Okay. Tomorrow. I’ll go up to town and get checked out by one of the other doctors.”

“Actually, you might be the only doctor,” Sam says, and shrugs apologetically at Adam’s horrified look.

Adam shakes his head vehemently.

“No, no, wait. I’ve got to have a supervisor. They wouldn’t let me out here on my own –“

“Maybe they’re out of town? There’s never been anyone else when we passed through,” Dean offers, but it’s apparently not what Adam wants to hear.

“How long have I been here?”

“Almost a year,” Bobby says.

“Holy fuck, then the town knows me,” Adam seethes, head falling into his hands. “Am I… am I any good?”

“You’re awesome,” Dean affirms with a superior nod.

Yeah, Bobby knows it’s the truth, but even he has trouble taking that look seriously.

Adam groans and appeals to his other brother.

“Sam?”

Bobby wonders if it’s worth his while learning something of Sam’s charm that settles the jumpiest of souls. The difference with Sam was that he more than empathised, he honestly cared, and it showed.

“You’re good at what you do, Adam, you’ve patched us up a few times, too. And you liked it out here so much, it’s why you bought the cottage.”

Castiel speaks up, hesitantly.

“If you seek another healer’s opinion, I… may know one,” he says, haltingly, but he’s looking at Dean now and there’s an entire conversation Bobby can see that burns between them as Dean’s face turns suspicious and Castiel nods, seeking his trust.

“Who?” Dean frowns, muttered barely audibly so that Bobby can hear and only because he’s standing beside him.

“My brother,” Castiel supplies, just as quietly, and Dean’s face twists in confusion.

“Mike isn’t a healer.”

“Not Michael.”

“How soon could they be here?” Adam pipes in and Castiel looks at him hesitantly.

“I will make inquiries,” Castiel says, and Dean follows him when the angel steps back out to the hall.

“… Must be a generalist,” Adam is muttering to himself when Bobby turns his attention back and the poor kid looks like he’s going to worry himself into another fever.

Bobby realises he’s waiting for something, Sam makes the mistake, too, and they look at each other when it comes to them. Adam didn’t fret over much but his career and they had gotten so used to Michael stepping in at this point, Bobby’s ashamed it took him a moment to realise it wasn’t going to happen tonight.

Adam looks up from his hands when Bobby clasps his shoulder firmly.

“Don’t you go worrying about things out of your control. Ain’t nothing you can do about it tonight, so put it out of your mind… have some of that soup your brothers worked so hard on.”

Adam’s face breaks into a weak, but grateful smile of relief. He looks at the pot at the centre of the table, resting on an oven mitt.

“Is that from a can?” Adam’s smile grows, remembering Dean’s earlier breakdown of the meal.

“We’ve got bread to dip,” Sam counters and heads for the fridge, its low hum filling the kitchen when he pulls the door open to search.

“Thanks, guys.” Adam voice is soft and he swallows, looking between them. “I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been passing through. That was lucky.”

Bobby’s smile twists at the corner of his mouth when Sam presents the fresh baguette, still wrapped in paper, and the brothers laugh – something about it being cold.

He’s glad because Adam was finally warming to them for being around to support him. Even if they all knew their timing had nothing to do with luck.


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