Title: Ember
Author: *bright
Rating: PG
Spoilers: tag for 4.21
Character: Bobby, thinking about Sam and Dean.
Category: character study
Summary: Bobby can't leave the moment behind.
Author's note: The Sam and Bobby scene in the yard would not leave me alone. This one is dedicated to kiscinca, hope you like it.
Words: 715
Disclaimer: Me own nada.

Bobby sat at his kitchen table, staring at the cell, waiting for Dean to call. Darkness fell and the shadows painted patterns on the floor but Dean didn't call.

And Bobby couldn't forget.

He was a hardened hunter, had been for ages. Nothing much touched him anymore, except those two knuckleheads that he considered family. The idjits that drove him insane most of the time. Two fully grown men whom he still considered boys. Damaged, tormented and stupid boys.

He didn't want to think about it, didn't want to have the scenario creeping up on him whatever he did. If he had Sam here right now he'd slap him. Hard. Then he'd probably rant the life out of the kid. For all the foolish things he'd done, all the insane decisions he'd taken. Bobby would see to it to finally break that silence that Sam hid behind. Always had, always would. The pride covering the fear, the love that drove him to sacrifice himself, just like his brother had done, and his father. The Winchesters were insane, no doubt about it.

Dean still hadn't called when the darkness was complete.

Sam was probably the most insane one of them all. Completely out of his head, desperate and aching to take that road that led straight to damnation. He'd always been the hardest of them to read; everything concealed, everything done in silence. It took a crowbar to open him up and when you finally got a crack in the varnish, he'd say what he thought you wanted him to say and then close up again. Sam knew all the big words, used them to hide himself. Sam's true self always shone through in his actions, not his words.

And that's why Bobby couldn't forget how Sam lifted the barrel to his heart and said: ”Then shoot”. Bobby hadn't seen how deep the despair was, how important Sam's need for revenge was. It wasn't about Lilith after all, it was just as much about Sam's own redemption. Sam was lying to himself and Bobby now knew that Sam felt his only redemption was death.

Those words had felt like stabs to his heart. Stabs from a dull knife, slow and agonizing as they ripped him apart while he watched Sam's gaunt face, the tiredness and hopelessness in the red-rimmed, teary eyes. The pain in those eyes traveled through the barrel, right into Bobby's chest when he realized that Sam just stood there, waiting and wanting for him to pull the trigger. The pain petrified him for a moment and Sam took advantage of that and decked him. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

He should have known, should have seen it coming. Sam had lost everything and getting Dean back was just adding to the fear of losing him again. Losing him to the Apocalypse and hell. Repeating the mistake of not acting, not taking charge, all over.

Bobby didn't want to wax poetic but there had always been that sense of hope in Sam, that little burning light. There was only ember left now, flickering dully and fighting to survive. But it was clearly losing the battle.

Bobby would never forget that moment with Sam when everything was clear to him. It was so painfully clear how Sam had slipped through his fingers, faded into a barely recognizable shadow. Hiding within himself, hiding from a world he thought rejected him. Bobby knew that the guilt was eating him up from inside, had seen it flash in Sam's eyes. But Sam had carried guilt most of his life and survived.

What had broken Sam was Dean's unspoken rejection, his brother's loss of trust.

And Bobby knew this would end in a world of hurt.

If Sam died, so would his brother. Dean didn't fool him with the stupid song and dance about letting Sam go. If Sam died, Dean would be gone. He'd become a shadow like Sam, a travesty of life. He'd probably keep up the game-face, going through the motions but he'd be gone, forever. Dean would simply cease to be.

The sky pinked up with the first rays of light. Like ember spilling over to vanquish the darkness and Dean still hadn't called.

Bobby Singer, old, hardened hunter, sat at his kitchen table and cried.