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SPN fic: "Constellations" (PG, Sam & co)
Jared!Sam
fannishliss
title: "Constellations"
author: fannishliss
rating: PG, some language
pairing: none
spoilers: 8.1, end of s7
length: 2957 words

Summary: After they take down Dick Roman, Sam tries to wrap his mind around the fact that Dean is gone, and tries to figure out what to do next.
 
Author's Notes: thanks to quickreaver for the amazing support, super quick beta and fact check.  Any remaining errors are my own.  I'm a Deangirl, but bi-bro, and this is my headcanon for the way things went down for Sam. I hope it'll help people regard him in a sympathetic light.  Remember, Dean Winchester says: quit picking on my little brother or I'll rip your lungs out.

***




Sam's ears were still ringing with the subsonic whomp of whatever had taken down Dick, and apparently, Dean and Cas along with it.

His body was still twitching, seized up and ready to pound something with the adrenaline of seeing Crowley and two henchdemons show up and grab Kevin.

The charmed femur was gone. Kevin was gone. Cas and Dean were gone. Crowley was gone.

The place was dripping with goo and echoing with a surreal vibration that was slowly chiming down into silence.

There was nothing there. Absolutely nothing. Though according to Crowley, the place was crawling with demons, sent to pick off the remaining Leviathans while they were still confused.

Sam needed to get out, and get out right away.

He ran, sprinting from cover to cover and powering through open spaces at top speed. He made it to the front lobby in a little over a minute. Scanning for demons, Leviathan, anything moving, he saw nothing. No one. He was like the last man walking in an apocalyptic landscape. Ha freaking ha. Been there, done that. Actually -- been that. Sam remembered that scene between Dean and Lucifer in 2014 like he'd been there. He hadn't been, of course, but Lucifer had enjoyed that moment so. The feel of Dean's neck snapping under his impeccably nasty white loafers. Sam couldn't help but scream, every time. It ranked high among Lucifer's most played.

Sam scanned the courtyard, the entry circle. Meg had crashed the Impala halfway through the sign. Shit, how was he going to get it out of there?

Sam felt like a bad movie as he scurried and zigzagged through the bright summer afternoon to the wrecked Impala. She was halfway humped though the sign. Sam felt his body coursing with adrenaline and just heaved his shoulder against the front end. She gave a kind of tooth-grinding scrape and rolled backwards, easy as you please.

Started right up. Sam roared out of there, 65, 80, 95 down the straight stretches. Cops were nowhere. Everyone was still dozing on sleepy juice.

Sam drove, drove, the wind howling into the Impala through the broken windshield. Pitstops were hell. The service stations and convenience marts were populated with zombies.

He picked up a phone and dialed. She answered on the second ring.

"Sam?"

"Jody, hi." Abruptly, Sam realized he didn't know what to say to her.

"Hi," she answered.

"Hi," he repeated. Did he really want to bring all this down on her head? She'd flown under the radar with the demons so far. Vividly, Sam remembered Lisa's black eyes, her vicious self-inflicted wound, the emptiness and self-hatred in Dean surging up until he almost drowned in it.

"Um, yeah. Looks like we took down Dick Roman," Sam said.

"Oh my god, Sam! That's amazing! That's fantastic! Are you guys okay?"

"Dean… didn't make it," Sam said, and with a terrible shock, he realized what he'd just said.

Silence.

"God, Sam. I'm so sorry. Are you sure you're okay?" Jody said softly.

"No," Sam said. "I'm not sure."

Silence stretched out as Sam drove, and Jody was almost audibly trying to think of what to say.

"You should come here then," she said at last. "Do you, is there, a pyre? That's what you do, right?"

She knew, because she and Bobby had been friends. Almost, something more.

"No," Sam said. "No body. No pyre."

"God, Sam," Jody repeated. "How long will it take you to get here?" she asked.

"I can't," he said.

"What?"

"Who even knows what's on my tail? Demons? More Leviathan? You're safer without me. I'm a living target. I gotta stay on the move. I can't bring you into this."

"Sam! Sam. Look. I'm not some shrinking violet, I'm a god damn sheriff. You don't need to protect me."

The overwhelming guilt and pain and terror of the past twenty-four hours exploded out of Sam into the phone.

"Listen to me! Okay? You don't know how many people I care about I've seen die right in front of my eyes. My mom, my dad, my fiancée, and now my brother … so many. So many. I'm not safe to be around. I'll try and call you every so often, okay? But other than that, the best thing for everyone is if I stay the hell away from you."

Sam heard Jody take a deep breath on the other end. "I think you're wrong, Sam. We're always stronger together. Everyone is. But I'm not the boss of you. You know where I'll be if you change your mind."

"Yeah," Sam said. "I appreciate that."

"I'll light a candle for Dean, Sam. He was a good man. An amazing man."

"Yeah," Sam choked. He couldn't hear any more. He couldn't hear past the word was.

Sam holed up. He couldn't bring himself to go to the cabin. It was gonna be full of Dean's stuff. It would god damn smell like Dean. He couldn't bear it.

First rule of business was, see to the Impala. By day, Sam tracked down parts and oversaw the repairs, making sure everything was up to Dean's exacting standards. She'd been his car before but she wasn't this time. She was Dean's, and Sam was just keeping her up the way Dean would've wanted.

By night, Sam brooded, tried to think his way through it.

Could Dean still be alive?

What did that even mean?

If he were alive, would he be in Purgatory? And if he was in Purgatory, how could Sam find him? It wasn't like there were friendly agents there that Sam could contact. Should Sam go commando, break into Purgatory himself and hunt Dean down? But who was to say Dean was even alive? How could a human body go to an afterworld? Dean's body hadn't gone to Hell. Sam's had, but it had been destroyed, and then remade by angelic grace when Castiel pulled the soulless stunt.

Could a body go to Heaven? If Dean had died, wouldn't Crowley have gloated if Dean were in Hell?

If Dean was in Heaven, wouldn't it be the height of folly and hubris to pull him back? At least Sam had watched his Buffy.

If Dean was in Purgatory, how could Sam get him back?

Sam went over it, and over it, and over it. Motionless on his back, staring at a different water-stained ceiling every night, running the plans. No outward sign might have given him away. He hadn't sunk down into that robotic zone of systematic behavior fueled by pure rage. He was too full of visceral grief, just shy of sheer panic, to be that systematic. He'd try to fold a hospital corner, and find himself cowering in the opposite corner side of the room, wrapped up in the sheet, bawling his guts out, covered in snot and tears.

He never slept in the same room twice. Let the maids make the bed, if there were maids. He had the car. She was coming back together. Think. Think. There must be a way. There must be something he hadn't tried.

All he could hear was Bobby in his brain telling him they were out of options. They'd tried every trick the old man had up his sleeve -- and that was before the Leviathan had burned his house down. Last time they'd tried to punch through -- look where that had gotten them -- knee deep in black oozy crap. That's how this whole mess had gotten started in the first place.

Death was in his brain telling him that he and Dean were in defiance of the natural order, that they had already done some kind of fundamental damage to the way things ought to be.

Castiel was in his brain telling him the garrison was gone.

Kevin was in his brain, a new prophet of the Lord, telling him that God still had a plan.

Kevin.

Yeah, about that.

Shouldn't he be hunting Kevin down? Shouldn't he be fighting Crowley for the prophet?

Sam, for all of his reluctant badassery, considered himself a decent Hunter. But he knew when to try and when he was up against impossible odds. Grab the King of Hell's most beloved prize from who knows what heavily guarded stronghold-- if not Hell itself? Sam broke out in a sweat. Wall, no wall, whatever, Sam couldn't do it again, he couldn't just deliberately throw himself into hell Hell again. He'd done it once and paid the price: a hundred years of torture, terror, agony, and madness, only to come back and find that his soulless body had gone on a spree, conscience-free.

But Kevin. Wouldn't Kevin try to reach him? Wasn't Kevin his responsibility? It was one more night, one more 3 am examination of dark blotches on speckled tiles, the meaningless constellations across which Sam was attempting to scry his fate.

Sam's phone rang. The number … it couldn't be. Kevin. Still alive.

Sam's feet hit the floor, the phone gripped fiercely in his hand, pressed hard against his ear.

"Kevin? It's Sam. Where are you?"

"Sam, you gotta help me. You gotta get me out of here. Please! They're, they're gonna …. ah! Ahhhh! NO!"

"Kevin? Kevin!" Sam screamed.

Crowley's rough laughter buzzed through the phone like a swarm of flies. "He's not gonna last much longer, Sam. I gotta say, they don't make a prophet like they used to."

"Crowley, you bastard!" Sam screamed. He longed to summon the smug demon, but what was the point? He was hopelessly outnumbered.

"Thank you, Sam, for that heartfelt assessment. Ta, gotta run, minds to break, souls to enslave."

Sam called back, but of course there was no answer. And then, Kevin's number had been taken out of service.

Three sleepless nights later the phone rang again.

"Sam? Sam, please. Please come and get me. Oh god. I can't….." Kevin sounded a thousand times worse. Crying, weak. What had Crowley been doing to him?

Kevin's voice broke into screams again.

Then it was Kevin's mother on the phone.

"Winchester, you son of a bitch! You were supposed to protect him -- my son! They're killing him! They're killing him right in front of my eyes!" The woman's hysterical voice tore into Sam like something from his worse nightmare -- and his nightmares were horrendous on an epic scale.

"Mrs. Tran? Where are you?"

Sam had tried to run a trace on the previous call -- but apparently Crowley, the modern demon, knew a thing or two about relays, and Sam got nowhere. Maybe with Frank's help -- but Frank, like everyone, was dead.

Sam heard the sound of a blow, open hand hitting face, and Mrs. Tran's voice cracked into sobs.

Crowley picked up. "Not long now, I'd wager. Either Kevin breaks and tells me what I want to know, or he's toast."

Sam hung up.

It was just two nights later, when Crowley called again. Sam shuddered when he picked up the phone. He'd gotten the best tracer device he could find, based on what he remembered from Frank's operations.

"Hello?" Sam said.

"Oh, Sam. Sorry, bad news. Kev didn't make it. Died cursing you to the end and all. And he did spill the beans on the tablet, so, guess all your hard work was in vain. Anyway, gotta fly!"

Crowley ended the call one second short of optimal for the trace. Minneapolis - St. Paul? It was something at least, and it wasn't god damned Detroit.

Sam went to Minneapolis. The trail was cold. There wasn't a hint of sulfur. No missing persons. Nothing but a town trying to shake itself free of the grip of a deadly high fructose corn syrup.

That was the last Sam heard from Kevin. He gave up staring at his phones, waiting for them to ring.

He left them in a box at the cabin when he was passing through.

One time he ran into Garth, who'd embraced him like a brother, a wide grin on his face.

"Sam Winchester! Man, it's good to see you."

"Good to see you too, Garth," Sam said.

"Sorry about Dean," Garth said, squinting.

"Yeah," Sam said.

"The good fight," Garth said, offering his fist for Sam to pound.

"Mm," Sam nodded.

They were at a diner, so they ate. Sam had a salad. Garth had a half-pound bacon cheeseburger deluxe, chili cheese fries, and a chocolate shake.

"Ten mile run, every morning," Garth said, chowing down.

"Awesome," Sam said. He drove and his brain ran on overtime. That was pretty much it.

"So, how's it going?" Garth said.

"I'm thinking about getting out," Sam said, before he even knew what he was saying.

"Out?" Garth said.

Sam stabbed a cherry tomato, gingerly, so that it didn't squirt. "Don't see the point. Dean's gone -- dead I think, I don't even know. Lost a kid on my last hunt, it was bad. Kind of, I don't know, I can't seem to get past anything. I'm, kind of, you know, done."

"Wow," Garth said, and took an enormous bite of burger.

Sam stirred his cup of vinaigrette with his fork while Garth chewed.

"Well, more power to you," Garth said.

Sam lifted his eyebrows.

"Dean would've wanted it that way, right? You out? No good one of you Hunting alone. You guys were a doubles team, right?"

Sam furrowed his brow. "Maybe? I mean, when I was in the Pit, Dean was out. You know, if I only knew where to start looking …."

Garth shook his head. "It's a big afterlife. No contacts in Purgatory, that I ever heard of. Bobby ever mention anything?"

"Bobby had a friend. She got killed."

"Shit, yeah." Garth nodded. "Maybe, you know, a psychic?"

"Psychics can't go near Purgatory. Nose bleed city," Sam said. He'd called a couple acquaintances, and they'd all flatly refused.

Garth looked over the table at Sam.

"Listen," Garth said. "I wouldn't say this to anyone but a Winchester. How many times have the two of you died, and come back? If Dean's meant to come back, he will. If you're done, you're done. Why is the fate of the world on your shoulders?"

It just is, Sam thought. "Dean …." he tried to say, but his brother's name caught in his throat. He couldn't give up looking, he couldn't. He would never. But the thing he couldn't figure out was, where to start.

"Look, Sam -- you're not the only Hunter in the world. You're awesome, but you're not alone. There's other guys out there, pulling their own weight." Garth gave Sam a measured look.

"I know," Sam said. "You're doing a great job, Garth. You're a natural."

"Well, I try to learn from the best," Garth said, nodding.

They finished their meal and stood.

Garth went to hug him again, and Sam just let him.

"You hear about a Hunt, or you get a lead or anything, you let me know, you hear?" Garth said.

Sam just nodded.

Maybe he was well and truly out. Maybe there was nothing left for him to do. He went and sat in the Impala, waited for Garth to pull out, old school bass pounding from his speakers.

Sam had restored the Impala to pristine conditions. If Dean was gonna haunt anything, it would be this car. All his weapons were in the car, even his cassettes even were shoved deep into the depths of the trunk. There wasn't anything else, except one bag of clothes back at the cabin. Sam never got a blip, not even a hint of a cold spot.

Sam turned the ignition. He drove. He thought, turning the problem of Dean and his disappearance (death?) again and again through his brain.

Something hit the side of the Impala with a sickening thud. Sam slammed on the brakes.

It was a dog. A helpless dog. It whimpered and looked at him with eyes full of pain and pleading.

"Okay okay okay, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," Sam chanted.

The dog yelped as Sam rolled it into a blanket as carefully as he could, placed it in the back seat.

"Don't bleed on the upholstery," Sam heard Dean gripe in his head.

They were on the outskirts of some little town in Ohio. Sam looked up an animal clinic on his smartphone and got the dog there in eleven minutes flat. He charged into the veterinary with the bloody dog cradled in his arms.

It was his responsibility. At least maybe he could get this one thing right.

***

Crowley invited his lieutenant, Lucrece, to join him in a brandy. She accepted, warily. Her job was to laugh at Crowley's jokes and snuff whomever disappointed him. She swayed subtly to Crowley's background hi-fi, pretending she liked it.

"You did a great job with Sam Winchester's phones," Crowley said.

"Thank you, sir," she answered. Hovering incorporeal around Winchesters was nerve wracking, but there were always the weak-minded to possess, phones to sabotage, voicemail messages to mask when Sam wasn't paying attention.

"And the voice imitation was spot on. I never got the hang of it," Crowley growled. He was proud of his own voice, Lucrece thought, a weakness.

"It's just a talent, sir, I suppose."

"Keep it up, keep it up. As long as Winchester doesn't know that Kevin got away, the prophet will be unprotected and easier to find. He's a tricky one, but he'll use a spell eventually that will tip us off, and then we'll have him."

"Yes, I'm sure it will be only a matter of time."

"Hm," Crowley laughed, sipping at his brandy. "With both Winchesters out of commission, we have all the time in the world."


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Excellent! For some reason my favorite part of this was Garth. I definitely think you touched on the mind-space Sam was in after Dean disappeared.

You are one of my very favorite Samgirls. Thanks for your comment!

Look at the woobie Sam in your icon!!! (quickreaver right? she rocks!) That was the Sam in 8.1, in my opinion. People are acting like he was all drinking fruity drinks poolside, Gangnam style. !!!

I'm glad you liked my Garth. He feels like an easy guy to get to know. WYSIWYG with Garth. :)


Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU! This is the fic I needed to read to not give up on Sam!!!

Yay, I'm so glad my story helped with your Sam mindset! :D

See, I am definitely NOT a Sam!girl, and I wasn't mad at Sam. His entire family, lost to evil. Everyone he's ever loved, dead. And him with no idea where to start. I mean, did he know that Dick would go back to Purgatory when he died?

Sam's hell trauma was (and probably still is) kicking his ass. Shock, loss, everything he's ever been through? He's not Dean. He's himself and what Dean would do doesn't have to be what he would do.

Do I wish he'd looked for Dean? Yes, I do. But I can understand why he didn't.

So much love for Garth here.


Truthfully? I get why he did what he did too, except for the 'not looking for Dean' thing. I think he might've made at least a cursory attempt but when it became clear that his resources were extremely limited and there were simply no clues to be had, only then would he have considered retiring.

All that being said, there is SO much about Sam's behavior that is shrouded in mystery and I'm sure things will come to light that'll clarify the reasons for his choices. Show always manages to pleasantly surprise me!


Yay, you posted! I think you did a fantastic job penning what probably WOULD have happened (if TV hadn't needed to fabricate drama.)

Faboo. Totes.

Thanks so much for helping me out! I really appreciate it. I felt like there were a million details and I just needed another eye. :)

This was great. I think this is how it played out and Sam was just being coy. I was really moved by the phonecall with Jody.

I think Sam, despite seeming not to have tried to look, showed how much he cared about Dean throughout the episode. He returned to Dean and is supporting him in his quest even though he is not 100% behind it, and the way he kept looking with such concern and care at his brother (burger scene was straight out of heaven).

Jensen knocked his performance of Dean out of the ballpark in this episode but Jared did a really fantastic, subtle job too (but perhaps the less showy role) and created a really interesting and intriguing dynamic between the two brothers that makes me very excited about season 8.


"Jensen knocked his performance of Dean out of the ballpark in this episode but Jared did a really fantastic, subtle job too (but perhaps the less showy role) and created a really interesting and intriguing dynamic between the two brothers that makes me very excited about season 8." This. I've always been so impressed by Jensen's acting ability, but Jared has come such a long way with his own that he's amazing to watch now.

And he did show how much he cared. This show has always thrown big potholes in the characters way and this is just one more thing that (hopefully) is going to be awesome.

Thank you for this. It is a scenario that I can buy. Right now I am having a huge problem with the Sam never looked for Dean part and abandoning Kevin. This is one way that I could accept the both actions. Thanks for making me feel better.

I'm so glad my story made you feel better. I'm sure the writers will come up with something good -- but this is my stopgap measure!

Thanks for reading and commenting!

This seems feasible. I absolutely love this part: Sam went over it, and over it, and over it. Motionless on his back, staring at a different water-stained ceiling every night, running the plans. No outward sign might have given him away. He hadn't sunk down into that robotic zone of systematic behavior fueled by pure rage. He was too full of visceral grief, just shy of sheer panic, to be that systematic. He'd try to fold a hospital corner, and find himself cowering in the opposite corner side of the room, wrapped up in the sheet, bawling his guts out, covered in snot and tears.

I am a Dean girl, but only by a small margin, and I had a LOT of trouble understanding where Sam was coming from this episode, and I like this...

Thanks so much for your lovely comment. I feel like overall, it was a very hard episode for people to watch, and I like a challenge -- in this case, put Sam's point of view into words, in character and in canon, and try to show how it might have gone down. I'm so glad you liked it. :)

This is so sad! I like how Sam just doesn't know where to start looking; it feels realistic and close to how it might have happened. Thanks for the insight into Sam's pov. I'm sure once the show goes into more detail about his time alone I'll be less hard on the writers. :)

I'm really anxious to learn more about what happened to both of them. Thanks so much for reading the story, and for commenting!

I think my comment at your LJ was basically the first draft of this story, so thanks for that as well! Cheers!

Oh, I am loving this! I am so glad I checked back. Thank you for this, I'd say this was pretty much my headcanon too.

Thank you for this look into Sam's headspace. I have been trying very hard to understand Sam and why he quit hunting. I have come to a point where I am better able to understand why he quit hunting; however I am still struggling with why Sam didn't look for Dean. Most of my thoughts of how and where he could have or should have gone to look for him were all covered in your fic, and the answers laid out to each of my queries were reasonable and understandable. I now am not feeling as critical towards Sam as I was in the beginning, thanks in part to your fic, so thanks for this. I still feel a little irritation towards Sam for not looking for Dean and for quitting hunting, but I'm a Dean girl and will always defend and stick up for my Dean, no matter what.

I'm glad it made sense to you. I felt like Sam was bearing the brunt of a lot of accusations, whereas I didn't think people were acknowledging the grief and helplessness he must have been going through.

I think this season is going very well so far, so I hope my little story helps you make sense of some small part of it.

Thanks so much for leaving a comment!

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