Summary: "Look, he called me when he got out, okay, asked if I had anything for him that might help him ease back into the game. He seemed okay – mostly – so I said yes." - Sam, Citizen Fang
Disclaimer: Supernatural does not belong to me
Thanks to supernutjapan for the beta job.
Dean was in the men's room when Sam's cell rang. They were in a little diner in a small town in Illinois, having a late lunch. Dean's half-eaten burger curled up in its bun while Sam picked at a southwest chicken that had looked better on the menu than it actually tasted. A fake fish mounted on the wall beyond the restrooms stared at Sam with googled eyes, its tail curled inward.
Sam slumped back in his seat and pulled his cell out of his pocket. The caller ID read "unknown", and Sam almost hung up. But he thought it might be important - maybe another half-brother calling to find his unknown family. So he hit "Answer" and put the phone to his ear. "Hello?"
"Sam?" The voice at the other end sounded vaguely familiar.
"That's what they call me," Sam said. Except when they called me "Sammy", he thought to himself. "Who is this?"
"Martin," the voice said, a little nervous. "Martin Creaser."
"Martin?" Sam asked. He sat up straight. No wonder the number was unfamiliar. Patients in the insane asylum were not allowed their own phones. They had to call from the landlines that belonged to the institution. That number wouldn't be in Sam's contacts, and his caller ID wasn't foolproof. "What's going on? Another monster?"
"No, no," Martin said. "Not that I know of, anyway. Actually, I was going to ask you something."
"Ask me what?" Sam asked. "Look, Dean will be out of the men's room in a minute. Hold on so I can put you on speaker."
"No," Martin said firmly. "I only want to talk to you."
Sam glanced at the door of the one-room bathroom. "What is it that only I can hear?" he asked. "Dean will be back soon."
"Can you tell him it wasn't me?" Martin asked.
The bathroom door opened, and Dean stepped out.
"I could, but - " Sam started. Dean was walking towards him. "Dean's coming."
"Call me back," Martin said, and the line went dead.
Sam put his phone down on the table. Dean sat down across from him. "Who was that?"
They were supposed to be done with the lying. They were supposed to be partners now, equal partners, partners who shared everything of importance. No more trusting demons or killing monsters behind each others' backs. No hiding phone calls from mentally unstable colleagues just on the colleague's say-so.
Sam remembered Dean ducking outside of the hotel room because he didn't have "enough bars". Running off without explanation, hiding phone calls, hiding his friendship with a vampire.
He remembered Dean telling him that Benny was a better brother than Sam had ever been.
"Someone looking for donations for widows of soldiers and firemen," Sam said.
"Huh," Dean replied. He took a bite out of his burger, and chewed on it. "How'd they get your number?"
"Dunno," Sam said. "Their number is blocked now."
Dean nodded, though he didn't seem to be fully listening. "I think we should find a motel and spend the night in this town," he said.
Sam nodded. "Makes sense."
He watched Dean carefully as his brother ate, looking for a hint of mistrust. He didn't even seem interested. Things had gotten better since Sam had made his ultimatum after the incident with the coin. Dean no longer tried to remind Sam of all his mistakes at every opportunity. Still, he could often sense his brother's anger below the suffer. He told himself it was just PTSD from Purgatory, but it seemed like it had been there longer than that. Like Dean had resented him for years.
Dean took one last bite of his burger. Through a full mouth, he said, "Finish up and let's find a place."
That evening, Sam went for a walk, leaving Dean in the motel watching TV. He walked a short ways down the quiet road, beyond a few trees and just out of sight of the building and stopped by a large tree. There he found the number Martin had dialed from.
He expected to hear the voice of someone at the hospital, a man or woman asking Sam who he would like to speak to. Instead, he got Martin's voice immediately. "Hello, Sam."
"OK," Sam said, "I need a few answers. One: Why don't you want Dean to know you're calling? Two: What do you want? And three: Why are you out of the hospital?"
"I'm out of the hospital because they let me out," Martin said. "What, you think I ran away?"
"Why did the let you out?" Sam asked.
"I shrugged, but I guess you can't see that over the phone," Martin said. "A couple weeks ago, I met with the doctors so they could review my case, just like I do every month. They asked the questions that always ask, and I gave the same answers I always give. And they said I was ready to leave the hospital."
"Do you think you're ready?" Sam asked.
"Look, I'm stable," Martin said. "I got doctors' appointments weekly. I got an apartment. I've been going to the store to buy food. Last few times I went to the store I didn't even have a panic attack." He sounded so proud of himself, like a five-year-old.
"That's great, Martin," Sam said, although he wasn't sure how great it actually was. "But why don't you want Dean to know?"
"Dean wouldn't understand," Martin said.
Sam frowned. "And I would?"
"I hear things," Martin said. "Not completely out of the loop. You were in a mental asylum last year."
"Briefly," Sam said.
"You had hallucinations, for months."
"Yes. What of it?" Sam answered impatiently, wondering what Martin was leading up to.
"You know what it's like," Martin said. "You know what's like to be imprisoned by your mind. To barely hold it together."
"Martin, why did you call?" Sam asked.
"You hallucinated the devil, and you didn't give up. You kept hunting the whole time."
"That's right," Sam said. Then he realized what Martin was implying. "Martin, you haven't been hunting, have you?"
Martin laughed. "No. I was always smarter than you. I know I need help."
"Help?" Sam asked.
"I just need help getting started. You know, getting eased into the game. I want help finding something I can do to get back in shape. A case that's not too difficult."
"I can't help you," Sam said. "We don't have any cases right now. And you just got out of the hospital. You're not ready."
"I'm ready," Martin said. Sam was about to object, but Martin kept talking. "I've spent the last god-knows-how-many years of my life stuck in that institution with nothing to do. Useless. Do you know what that feels like?"
"Awful," Sam said, though he wasn't quite sure where, in his very eventful life, he had learned the feeling of being useless. "Look," he said. "I hear you. But it's only been a couple weeks. Don't you think it might be wiser to wait, at least a little longer?"
"You're going to tell me to drop it," Martin said. "Like the doctors. Like everyone in my life. Like I'm a stupid child."
"I'm not telling you to drop it," Sam said. "I--" He stopped.
A rare car drove by, briefly overwhelming Sam with sound. A thought had occurred to him. He waited until the car was gone and the sound of its engines faded away. Then he said, "I might have something that you could help with."
Dean would be pissed. Dean, possibly, would never speak to him again. Sam wondered if there was anything Sam could do that would make him feel worse about his relationship with Dean than he already did.
"If you want me to give you something," Sam said carefully, "you have to play by my rules. Understand?"
"Of course," Martin said.
"No, not 'of course'," Sam said. "I'm in complete control, all right? You don't do anything without consulting me. Do you understand?"
"You don't trust me," Martin said.
"Do you want the job, or not?" Sam asked.
"It's not hunting," Sam warned. "It's tracking."
"There's a vampire named Benny," Sam said.
"A vampire!" Martin said. "I think I could handle a vampire."
"No, no, I told you: this is not a hunt. I'm not sure if this vampire is dangerous."
"Dangerous? You did learn the word 'vampire' from your father, yes?"
"Actually--" Sam began, ready to tell the story of how he and Dean didn't even know vampires were real until they were adults. Then he decided that now was not the time. "Tracking only. If he doesn't appear to be killing people, leave him alone. If anything happens, call me. Understand? Do not do it on your own."
"How do I find this guy?" Martin asked.
"That's your challenge," Sam said. He gave Martin a brief physical description of Benny.
They said goodbye, and hung up. Sam added Martin to his contacts, putting a "B" after Martin's name to remind himself Martin was on Benny. Not that Sam was planning on forgetting.
As he always did when he checked his contacts, he searched for Amelia's name. As he always did, he let his finger hover over the delete button next to her number. As he always did, he moved his finger away and left her name in his phone.
There was something odd about Amelia's number...the digits seemed to be different from what he remembered. He was probably imagining things.