Title: Morning After

Summary: 6 long years hasn't changed Sam. He's still half the man he is when Dean's gone. Still dangerous. To everything and himself.

Warnings: some vague Hurt!Sam, language and just-dark outlook.

Disclaimer: Needless to say, I own nothing. Except the desire to give the Winchesters the justice and attention they deserve.


The note is the first and last thing he sees from the moment he would pass out—more often than not on the table—under crushing fatigue, to the aching second his eyelids peel open next morning and again don't find Dean.

Sam had dissected that slip of paper for hours the day Dean and the Impala disappeared. Again. Inexplicably. Nothing left behind expect blood stains and 4 cold, senseless words scrawled on a torn out notebook page. The handwriting mimics Dean, the nickname mimics Dean. But every drop of Sam's blood, every fiber of his battered soul screams against it. Like its poison. Unnatural. And not of Dean in any shape or form.

He doesn't know where to start looking when his shock finally wears down except Crowley. Crowley is the only lead, the self-proclaimed king of hell never manifested when Sam had done the summoning spell. And Dean's lifeless body just gone from his blood-stained bed the same night is no fucking coincidence…Sam has to swallow the sudden rush of sickness that pushes up his throat every time he remembers that awful discovery. Sam knows Crowley is at the root of this, he and that thrice-damned Mark of Cain.

Maybe the sheer intensity of his fury at Crowley is really a transferal from the hatred at himself that threatens to gnaw away at him. It whispers, deep in his inner most being, that his ugly fallout with Dean fed his brother into seeking out the Mark in Dean's desperation to make things right. And white-knuckling to his bitterness all those months while the Mark was gently poisoning his brother had sacrificed so many moments of warning. Warning that didn't breach the thick coat of Sam's mulishness quick enough to save Dean.

00000

The level of drive possessing Sam to find his vanished brother this time would impress Dean. Or maybe shame him. Desperation for any news of Dean or Crowley has driven Sam over the cliff into an abyss of terror and rage. Crowley, the fucking bastard, doesn't want to be found and warns all his minions away from any hint of Winchester. But Sam's too savage now to accept defeat, he finds other venues and tricks to trap the few stupid straggling demons and barely feels remorse more than a needle prick when he's forced to loose their obstinate lips. It gets bloody and terrible, the things he does to them and the innocent bodies they ride in. As bad as he ever got when Dean was in hell 6 long years ago. When those black memories hit him in a startled moment of clarity, numb tears do slip down his cheek. But not really because of how far he's fallen once more, it's from the familiar gnawing agony of losing the last family he had.

Most days, Sam's mask doesn't slip. Any drop of feeling or passion is siphoned off, locked away for the one person in Sam's life that's always been there. And God help him, nothing will stand in his way of getting his brother back this time.

00000

4 weeks into his dogged pursuit for either of the two, Sam is ambushed. He takes a lead on a lieutenant of Crowley's, a 50/50 shot of being a bust or paydirt. Cas is extremely agitated by it, certain it's a trap and doesn't keep quiet about it even when he joins Sam as back up. Capturing the supposed lieutenant in the devil's trap is easy, way too easy and Sam should've fucking known Cas was right long before the second set of demons seize him.

Is Crowley wanting him taken out for getting to close or revenge for the demons he'd killed in his hunt? It barely matters as Sam becomes the one being tortured, arm broken first then his ribs when he doesn't so much as scream to please the demons' old love of anguish. They were well on their way to beating him to death if Cas hadn't come to and stabbed the ringleader through the gut with his angel blade. Even half an angel, Cas still manages to kill the rest of their enemies.

With the demons dead, Cas pours out the last of his fragile grace to save Sam as he's choking on his collapsed lungs. Just enough to save his life but leaves him with throbbing ribs and a badly broken arm.

Cas has to practically threaten Sam into taking a break from his search to heal. Only the reality of how helpless he is with busted ribs and an arm in agony conquers him into surrendering. The few weeks bedrest drive him to near insanity and Cas ends up bearing the brunt of Sam's festering aggravation. But Cas never snaps in return, doesn't even seem to show any signs of hurt at Sam's every explosion and remorse slowly devours the helpless ire boiling throughout the hunter's chest. God knows Cas doesn't deserve this. Especially when he's Sam's only friend left. He learns to keep his mouth shut on the days he wants to hurt everybody and everything.

The attack has the opposite effect on Sam then what demons probably wanted. He's twice as brutal on enemies as he was before, if it were even possible, and that much more hell-bent he's on the right track.

00000

Couple weeks later, on a routine sweep of the web he finds that lead about a missing all-American Ohio native murdered in Wisconsin. Could be nothing again. But Sam doesn't believe in stories too small anymore. So he leaves the laptop, calls Cas and heads north.

End


Author's Note: I know I should be updating other stories that fans have begged for instead of spending my time on season 10 tags... but I couldn't help it! I watched season 10 recently again and the Muse started talking about Sam, and wanting to see what Sam was going through, particularly this first episode. I promise I haven't forgotten my other stories, but the Muse leads me where it wants. I must obey. XD

I also wanted my own spin on what caused Sam's injury in that season and well...I wanted the story with more then just a broken arm but yet still ultimately a broken arm, if that makes sense XD I also wanted to give a more interesting reason for Cas's downward spiral with his health after he seems fine at the end of season 9. There's so many gaps between Do you Believe in Miracles and Black. And I. Must. Fill. Them.

I may end up doing more season 10 tags, we shall see. I already have one started on Reichenbach. ;)

Let me know if the ending needs tweaking. I'm not quite sure if it needs a bit more...