Genre: Gen, hurt/comfort, angst
Word count: 7800 in two parts
Summary: Exploring the ruins of Bobby's burned-out house was not one of Sam's better ideas.
AN: For chaos_slave 's prompt at the ohsam tripleplay challenge: 1. Bobby's house after it's destroyed
2. Jody Mills or Bobby 3. Sam falls through the top of the panic room after it starts to rust and the iron weakens while looking to salvage what they can from Bobby's house. On another note, it's been a while since I've written anything this angsty, but it feels good to get back into it.
Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down
There wasn’t much to see – not anymore, at least. The house had never been a mansion, and really, it had never even been anything less than an eyesore, but for Sam it had been the closest thing to a home that he had ever known.
Sam surveyed the ruins, his heart heavy with grief and memories flooding his mind. He looked to his right – the couch used to be there; an old threadbare thing that smelled vaguely of wet dog and spilt whiskey, but arguably the most comfortable place in the house to take a nap. Looking to his left was where one of the many bookshelves had been. He could remember lazy summer afternoons sitting against that very bookshelf, digging into Tolstoy, Tolkien, Asimov, Bradbury, or pretty much anything he could get his hands on to read. The adventures that one bookshelf alone had given him were too numerous to count; taking him to foreign lands, fantastical worlds and even to the outer reaches of space and the future.
Sam did another turn and saw more than just the burnt-out shell of the house. He saw the home’s owner there – he saw him in the kitchen, fixing his ‘best damn chili in the world’, he saw him in the living room, chin to his chest and napping in the lazy boy, he saw him in the library surrounded by ancient books, yelling at him and his brother for being ‘idjits’ once again. Bobby was everywhere in this place, even now that both the house and the man were gone.
Feeling his eyes begin to burn and a clenching in his throat, Sam turned his eyes away from the wreckage just as he heard the sounds of car tires crunching over the gravel of the driveway. A white police cruiser pulled up next to Sam and Dean’s ‘borrowed’ car for the week and came to a halt. As soon as the engine was stopped, a dark haired woman emerged from the driver’s side and walked confidently towards him.
He extended his hand to greet her, “Sheriff Mills –“
“Dammit, Sam. How many times do I gotta tell ya to call me Jodie?” She grinned, grabbing his hand and pulling him into a hug rather than returning the handshake he offered.
“It’s good to see you, kiddo.” She said into his chest before she backed up and held him at arm’s length, her face turning from pleasure to sadness in the space of a beat. Her eyes glistened with tears, but she resolutely refused to let any fall. “I’m so sorry, Sam … about Bobby …”
“Yeah …” Sam nodded, swallowing hard and looking out again towards the ruins house that had once meant so much to the man he had considered to be more of a father to him than his own had ever been. It was still too hard to believe that he was gone and that it had only been a week since he and Dean gave him a proper hunter’s funeral – it felt so much longer, like the world had kept going while his and Dean’s had come crashing to a halt.
Sam was no stranger to grief, but this loss was a heavy one. Bobby had been the one man that he and Dean could turn to without fail and losing him was like losing the ground beneath their feet – like there was nothing to hold them up and keep them stable anymore.
“Where’s Dean?” Jodie asked. Sam turned back to the sheriff then pointed off towards the rusting piles of cars.
“He’s in the garage. He said he wanted to find some tools, but –“
“Yeah, I know. It’s not easy being out here.” She sighed, “But I’m glad you guys came. There was something important that Bobby entrusted with me and wanted me to personally deliver to you guys just in case … well, you know … the worst happened.”
Sam nodded, finding no words.
“Anyway …” Jodie reached into her coat pocket and pulled out an envelope. “I would have come to you guys, but I couldn’t leave work, so … this is it.”
Sam took the envelope and turned it over, “What is it?”
“I don’t know. You’ll have to open it to find out, I guess.”
“I should probably get Dean for this,” Sam said, starting to walk off, but Jodie grabbed his arm and held him back.
“No wait … I’ll get him. I wanted to talk to him anyway.”
Jodie gave Sam a quick squeeze and pat on the arm and then headed off towards the garage. Sam didn’t follow as he had a feeling that she wanted to have a private conversation with his brother. Instead, his feet began to lead him almost unconsciously into the rubble of Bobby’s house.
He carefully stepped over what used to be the threshold of the front door, his eyes scanning the ground and looking for something – anything that might have survived the fire. Part of him knew that it was pointless, that everything in the house was ruined, yet another part – the hopeful part wanted to know that not all was lost.
Charred planks and blackened debris broke and crunched under his feet as he delved further into the rubble. Even now, months after the house burned down, the smell of smoke and destruction lingered, climbing up Sam’s nose and reminding him of all that the forces of fire had taken from him. First his mother, then Jess … it was enough to make him curse Prometheus for ever daring to bring humans fire in the first place.
Sam was still scanning the remnants of the house when his eye caught on a sliver of metal glinting in the setting sunlight. Unlike everything else, it stood out amongst the soot-covered debris. Hurrying over to it while trying to be careful and not get injured by the sharp pieces of wood and metal littering the home’s footprint, Sam reached the odd piece of metal. It seemed to be smooth and curved, almost like a pipe, but too shiny to have belonged to the house’s structure. Bending over, his feet burying themselves in rubble, Sam grabbed the piece of metal and pulled. As he tugged, Sam realized that the thing was attached to something bigger and more curious now than ever, he pulled harder at the thing. It moved very little being wedged between some cinderblocks and broken wood, so he backed up and grasped the metal with two hands, planting his feet firmly as he gave a mighty yank.
Breaking free, the entirety of Sam’s find became apparent. The metal pole was attached to a seat and four half-melted and corroded wheels.
Sam stepped back, panting a little from the exertion and feeling another little piece of his heart break. Of all of the things he could have found – this was the one thing to survive the fire? Bobby would have never needed the thing in the first place if it hadn’t been for Sam breaking the final seal and letting Lucifer out of his cage.
Bobby had told him that it wasn’t his fault that he had ended up in the chair for all of those months, but Sam had always felt otherwise. The demon that had possessed Bobby wouldn’t have come to kill Dean and Bobby wouldn’t have turned Ruby’s knife on himself and been paralyzed if it hadn’t been for Sam’s actions. The guilt in seeing Bobby stuck in that chair every time he saw him had nearly eaten Sam alive and seeing it now brought back all of those feelings again.
He couldn’t understand why the thing was here. Bobby had hated the thing, so why had he kept it?
Then again – Bobby never really threw anything away, did he?
Sam backed away from the chair, not bothering to look behind him, wishing it had been destroyed along with everything else. His left foot slid under a pile of broken wood and encountered something hard as an ominous cracking noise issued from below. More of the debris shifted and he tried to move his foot, but tripped instead, his other foot flying into the air. His backside landed hard on the broken wood which instantly gave way under his weight and everything-- planks, metal rods, and Sam himself began to be sucked into the hole as if the earth itself had opened up to swallow a meal.
For the briefest of moments, Sam felt weightless, suspended in the air until gravity finally took a firm grip on him pulled him down into the dark depths.
Jodie found Dean rather easily – all she had to do was follow the sounds of banging and swearing coming from inside the derelict garage. The place was musty smelling and hadn’t been touched since the fire, but it had escaped any major damage from the fire. The Leviathans, it seemed, were more interested in wiping out Bobby’s home and hadn’t bothered with the garage.
Not unlike a child having a major temper tantrum, Dean was standing at a work table, hammer in hand as he bashed at a rust-covered length of exhaust pipe. Sweat beaded on his brow as he pounded away with abandon and cussed loudly and colorfully with each successive clank of metal against metal.
She cleared her throat noisily, but Dean didn’t seem to notice or hear her. Sighing, she marched towards him and stopped before the workbench, sternly putting her hands on her hips until Dean finally became aware of her presence.
“Did the pipe do something wrong to deserve such punishment?” She asked. Mid-swing, he stopped and looked up at her, mildly surprised at first and then slightly annoyed at being interrupted. He dropped the hammer on the table with a clang and then wiped the sweat from his face.
“You could say that. Damn thing is from the P.O.S. Sam jacked for the ride here. Frickin’ muffler’s louder than an atomic explosion whenever you step on the gas.” He grumbled, dropping to sit on a stool behind him.
“Jacking cars? You know I could have you arrested for that.” She joked.
Dean snorted humorlessly, “Trust me … we were doing that car’s owner a favor by stealing it.” Dean pulled a silver flask from his back pocket and chugged a few swigs of whatever rot-gut he had in there. He then sat there, avoiding her eyes and staring thoughtlessly at the exhaust pipe.
Now it was Jodie’s turn to sigh, “Listen, Dean … I’m so sorry about –“
“Don’t.” Dean turned his hardened eyes towards her slowly. Though his face was a mask of barely restrained anger, she could almost feel the grief emanating from him. “I don’t need your sympathy. I know Bobby was your friend too, but he’s gone now and no amount of ‘I’m sorrys’ will bring him back. The only thing I care about now is killing the son of a bitch that shot him.”
Jodie nodded slowly. Dean had a fire in his eyes that was scary to see, but she understood his pain – she hadn’t felt such a loss so keenly since her son had died. She wanted Bobby’s killer dead as well, but with Dean it went much deeper than just ridding the world of the Leviathans or getting revenge – No, for Dean was a man on a mission and he wasn’t going to stop until either Dick Roman was dead or he was.
“How can I help?” She asked, knowing now that this was what Dean needed more than a shoulder to cry on.
“You don’t need to get involved. It’s dangerous enough just knowing me and Sam and this is not your fight.”
“Not my fight?” She repeated, incredulous.
“Look … I appreciate the fact that you want to help, but you’re not a hunter. It’s better that you just stay out of this and let me and Sam do the work.”
“Dammit, Dean! I may not be a hunter, but this isn’t my first rodeo, you know.”
“NO … if you get involved in any way those Leviathans will be on you faster than a flea on a dog and I won’t have you getting killed for us.”
Jodie narrowed her eyes, a little pissed that Dean saw her as someone that needed his protection. She was a goddamned sheriff for Christ’s sake! “Dean Winchester …” She began angrily, using the same commanding voice she used for hauling criminals off to spend some quality time in her jail, “if you think for one moment that I’m going to sit back on the sidelines while those monsters turn the entire human race into ground chuck, then you’ve seriously have got a screw loose. You and Sam need help, now more than ever and don’t you dare deny it. So, tell me … What. Do. I. Need. To. do?”
Dean’s features began to soften and then his shoulders slumped a little in defeat, “Fine … you wanna help, then here –“ Reaching into his pocket, Dean pulled out a folded slip of paper and the slid it across the table towards Jodie.
She picked it up and unfolded it, reading the seemingly random set of numbers listed on it. She looked to Dean in confusion, “What is this?”
“Bobby wrote these numbers down just before he died. I’ve been staring at them for days trying to figure out what they mean, but so far … I haven’t a clue.”
“Well … I can try several differently police databases that might help give us some clue as to what they refer to, but …”
“I know … it’s a long shot, but Bobby thought they were important enough to die for, so they have to mean something, right?”
Jodie silently agreed. She would do what she could for these boys not just because they were possibly mankind’s only hope in defeating those monsters, but because she owed it to Bobby. These were his boys and she knew he would want her to do whatever she could to help them.
Jodie folded the paper back up and placed it in her pocket for review later and then stood up straight, “I’ll do whatever I can Dean. I promise. Now … you think that pipe has had enough abuse for today because Sam is waiting for us by the house.”
Without waiting for Dean, Jodie began to exit the garage and after a few seconds, Dean had caught up to her. They walked side-by-side back to the burned-out home, but Sam wasn’t where she had left him.
“Where is he?” Dean asked.
“I dunno. He was right here when I went to get you.”
“He probably went to take a leak.” Dean muttered, pulling his phone out and dialing. Jodie stood by as Dean shoulders began to tense. “Dammit.”
“I got his voicemail.”
“Maybe he’s just out of range. Cell service out here isn’t all that great, you know.”
“Yeah … maybe.” Dean stated, not at all convinced. He started to walk towards the piles of cars and Jodie followed behind.
“Sam?!” He called out. The salvage yard merely echoed back Dean’s voice, all else was silent. Dean yelled several more times for his brother, but still there was no response.
“Where the hell did he go?” he whispered.
Jodie too was beginning to feel Dean’s apprehension. She had only left Sam alone for a few minutes and there weren’t too many places he could have gone in that short amount of time. But knowing the trouble these two brothers found themselves in on a regular basis, she couldn’t dismiss the feeling that something bad might have happened.
“Why don’t we split up?” She suggested. “You take salvage yard and I’ll check around the house.”
“Okay.” Dean agreed, already moving off. “Call me if you find him.”
Awareness, unfortunately, never left Sam. He hadn’t been fortunate enough to hit his head at all and he had felt every second of the panic and terror that engulfed him as he fell and heard every snap and crack as he impacted hard onto the unyielding, debris strewn, cement floor. For several moments, shock overrode any pain and his lungs refused to work, all of the air having been forcibly knocked out of them. It was only when the need for oxygen had become so great that the possibility of passing out arose that his body finally remembered how to breathe.
He sucked in great breaths, each one coming in with a stab of pain darting through his chest. Cracked, possibly broken ribs, he figured, but that kind of pain he could handle – he’d broken ribs countless times. The pain in his back, however, was another story.
He was certain he must have landed in hot lava, because his back was on fire. He could still feel the bumpy, uneven pieces of wood and rubble underneath him and he moaned pitifully trying to move off of them, but that only caused the pain to flare and make stars flash before his eyes. He scrunched his eyes tight, jaw locking down tight as he rode out the wave of agony.
When the pain had passed into marginally tolerable levels, he realized that the sharp, stabbing sensation in his back was concentrated in one spot just under his left shoulder blade, radiating up and down his arm like something was stuck deep in there. As he laid there trying to even his breaths out, he could feel the back of his shirt growing increasingly wet and he didn’t have to see it to know he had landed on something sharp and was bleeding profusely. He stayed as still as he could, knowing that it he moved, he’d only make things worse.
Sam opened his eyes, finding that it was only slightly less dark with them open. At first he couldn’t tell where he was or why he had gone down, but as he looked up and saw the hole from which he had fallen, he knew instantly what had happened. Dangling from the hole was the remains of a large, broken fan and the ventilation grate that had been used to hold it. A few steaks of sunlight streamed down from the ceiling and now that his eyes were adjusting to the dark, Sam had an even better idea of how he had managed to end up in this situation. He was looking up at the ceiling of Bobby’s panic room. The fire must have weakened the grating for the ventilation fan in the ceiling and when Sam had tripped and fallen on the piles of debris up above, he must have broken through.
Sam cursed. He’d been so stupid. He shouldn’t have walked into the house at all, what had he been thinking? Why hadn’t he just stayed put?
Shit – Dean was going to kill him.
Dean. Sam felt his spirits lift a little. He just needed to call his for brother. He wasn’t far – he’d be sure to hear him if he yelled loud enough. He’d get him out, patch him up real quick and all would be fine. Sure, Dean would never let him live this down, but getting a tongue lashing from his brother sounded much better than being stuck down in this pit.
Sam opened his mouth and attempted to shout, but that too had been just as bad of an idea as moving had been. Pain lanced through his chest and back and all he managed to get out was a weak-sounding squeak.
Okay – yelling was out.
Sam would have to find another way to get Dean’s attention. His slow and pain-addled brain finally reminded him that he had a phone on him and that calling his brother was probably the best solution to his predicament.
The only problem was that Sam had put his phone in his left back pocket along with envelope Jodie had given him and whether or not it survived the fall was his first worry. His other worry was that he would have to move in order to reach it with his right hand since his left was numb thanks to whatever was stuck in his back. He was not looking forward to jarring his injured back in any way, but he could see no other choice.
Taking a few shuddering breaths, Sam rolled a fraction to his left and was instantly met with breath-stealing flames racing through his back and arm as pressure was put against his wound. He stifled the scream his throat wanted to let loose as he used what remaining wits he had left to force his right hand under his but to reach his left back pocket. Seconds of agony went by before his hand finally reached into his pocket and pulled the phone free.
He rolled again, relieving the pressure on his back by moving a little more onto his right hip. Gasping, his heart thumped wildly in his chest and he breathed so hard that he could feel each and every sore and cracked rib. His back continued to send endless pain signals to his brain, but in this position, it lessened and he could feel his heart begin to slow in relief.
With the phone firmly grasped in his trembling hand, Sam pushed the power button and to his immense joy, it came to life having somehow escaped any damage other than a small crack in the screen. Relief again poured through him and Sam wasted no time dialing Dean.
He placed the phone to his ear, ignoring the shaking in his hands and waited for it to ring. He waited several more seconds, but after a few more, an ominous beep issued from the phone. He pulled it away from his ear and felt his stomach drop.
Not one single bar.
Sam moaned, his eyes blurring as he stared at the screen and then looked at the walls of the panic room in frustration, realizing that the thick iron walls that had been built for protection were blocking any signal from getting through.
Closing his eyes, Sam dropped the phone onto his chest, defeated.