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Relearning to Live

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It'll be six weeks soon.

Six weeks since Sam and Dean found their half-brother kneeling in the cold, empty warehouse near the tail end of route sixty-six. Adam had been starved, sick, and confused enough to still put up a fight after they lowered their guns.

Six-sixty-six. Adam doesn't want to commemorate the milestone of his emancipation and his brothers aren't pressed to change his mind.

-*-

Sam doesn't sleep. Eleven days is his record. Afterwards, he slept for thirty hours straight.

He should be climbing the walls, but he reads, he trains, he hunts and he watches his brothers. He understands his pattern now: he'll pass out for around twenty hours after a four or five day stint. When Dean let him back into his life, Sam got it down to three.

He still lies in bed awake most nights so that Dean won't ask and worry why the light's still on.

-*-

Adam jumps at the crack of billiard balls.

Sam and Dean never realised how much of their lives were spent in bars catching meals or hustling for paper until they had to find alternatives. Stumbling into a bar without pool tables was easier said than done.

They try more diners and cheap corner eateries these days and Sam wonders if they're all drinking less. That would be an unexpected plus.

-*-

There are scars on Adam's back, healed, but unfaded. Sam's had enough burns to recognise the cause of the two jagged lines that run from Adam's shoulders to his waist. They’re fresh, the skin looks dry and tight. Sam’s not about to ask if it’s a parting gift from Michael or something from that warehouse.

He's caught Adam's involuntary wince when he's stood from his chair or turned too quickly.

Sam picks up the bottle of oil from the local pharmacy when Dean pulls them over for a gas stop. He's sure they had something like it once upon a time, but he and Dean never scarred easily, so they tossed it one day to make space for spare salt and clips.

Adam frowns at the bottle when Sam slides it across the table at dinner.

"It’s for your back," Sam says, gesturing vaguely.

Adam's look sours, but Dean comes back from the parking lot, kicking the door shut behind him. Less inclined for the possibility of questions on his health, or talking in general, Adam stuffs the small, glass bottle in his pocket and grabs his beer on the way out.

Dean looks at the half-eaten burger and fries before the door slams.

Sam shrugs at Dean's raised eyebrows and slurps the last of his milkshake.

"Guess he left his appetite back in the pit, huh?" Dean spins his chair around to straddle as he starts in on his own dinner. "Sure you two were in the same cage?"

Sam shoots his crumpled cup into the trash.

"Yeah."

-*-

Sam had a problem with the cold when he first got back.

Adam's still catatonic in the flash of white light.

Catching him in head lights stopped being funny after Dean had to tackle him from the path of an oncoming semi. Sam knows Adam's ribs are still healing from the crush of Dean's weight and Dean's stopped wearing the bandages for his gravel burn.

The accident put fresh scratches in Adam’s back, too.

The night after, Adam doesn’t quite close the bathroom door when he takes his shower.

Dean almost stops on his way past the bathroom, steam rolling from the gap in the door.

Sam had also glimpsed Adam through the crack, wet hair stuck to his forehead and a towel around his waist, scowling at his reflection as he awkwardly tended to the scrapes along his back. Dean won’t knock on the doorframe to check how Adam’s doing and he won’t offer to help. But he’ll stand outside, steam curling around his boots and think he should.

Five years ago, Dean might have done both of those things. Sam would have.

Almost ten minutes later, Adam emerges from the bathroom fully clothed. His bed whines loudly under his weight as he shoves his boots on. Sam keeps typing when the chair across from him is yanked, but he finally looks up after an expectant pause wherein Adam doesn’t take his seat.

Adam’s look is impatient. There are beads of water on the uncombed hair in his eyes.

“What do you need?” Adam asks, voice rough. He glances at the small pile of books in front of Sam.

There’s a quiet clink of metal on metal from behind Sam where Dean’s cleaning his shotgun on his bed.

“I’m good,” Sam says.

Adam’s look turns droll.

“Come on, man.”

Sam’s mouth shrugs and he splays the book in his hands because he’s honestly got this one covered.

“No, really. I’m good. Take a load off.” Sam nods significantly at his ribs.

Adam’s a smart kid, he’ll understand the hint.

But he’s clearly uninclined to take it when he snorts at Sam’s offer and drops into the opposite chair instead. He snatches the book at the top of the pile and throws a dark look over Sam’s shoulder.

Sam can only guess at which face Dean’s making to warrant that look.

Adam opens the book cover and stares at the title page for a moment. With a deepening frown he turns the page, then another, until he’s fanned through to the back cover.

He thrusts the book at Sam like it’s offended him.

“Dude, this book isn’t even in English.”

He sounds so put out that Sam can’t help a small smile and he hears Dean’s snort.

“I’ll teach you one day.”

Sam takes the book back and offers Adam another one from the pile.

“Fifteenth century, but I think you can handle it.”

Adam smirks and takes the thinner, dusty hardback like Sam’s offered him a challenge.

And he doesn’t disappoint them.