Disclaimer: The characters of Supernatural were created by Eric Kripke and are owned by The WB network. There is no profit being made.

The Spirit House

By Dawn Nyberg

Dean and Sam drove down a tree lined driveway toward an old estate known by the locals as the Spirit House. Dean had received a call from a woman that had crossed paths with his Dad once a year ago, and now she needed help. Sam stared out the window watching the landscape go by. Dean glanced at him as he has been doing for the last few days when his kid brother wasn't looking. Sam had been quiet and he looked like he hadn't been sleeping well, especially the last few days.

"You okay?" Dean asked his brow furrowed.

"Fine."

Dean knew something was bothering his younger brother, but if he didn't want to talk about it he wasn't going to, so he let it drop, for now, after all, they had a job to do. The large estate house came into view. There was a lot to see: house, gardens, two guesthouses, and even a large glass atrium was attached to the side of the main house. An older woman waited for them and Dean and Sam figured it had to be their contact for this job. They parked the car and got out.

"Hello, I'm Moira. And, you must be Dean, right?" She extended her hand and shook his. Her eyes shifted to Sam and she smiled. "Sam, nice to meet you."

"How did…" Dean didn't get to finish his question.

"Psychic," she filled in for Dean. "I met your Father a year ago, and we helped each other out on a situation."

They spent the next few minutes getting acquainted and then she invited them into the garden to sit and talk. "I guess I should tell you what I need your expertise for. This place is filled with many spirits, but that's not the problem. It's where they have chosen to be. I have owned this property for many years, but as much as I hate to admit it my age is creeping up, it is. An entity has moved in so to speak, a nasty one. This energy is very dark and one of the most malevolent I have ever come across. I'm simply not strong enough to deal with it. And, my son Martin may accept the fact that there are spirits and the like he doesn't really care to deal with them. But, he'll be here in a short while to lend a hand if needed.

Dean and Sam knew more than one way to deal with an evil entity, but they are all capable of different things, and most are very violent. They would have their hands full on this job. "I'll give you a tour of the house, and after a good night's rest in the guest cottage you can taken things then.

"Sounds good," Dean agreed. Sam was quiet, but he nodded. They walked toward the house.

"Normally, I live inside, but lately I've been staying in one of the guesthouses."

"Understandable," Dean responded.

Sam looked at the house and something was nagging at him, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Once inside the feeling didn't lessen. Moira showed them the house and as they approached the library Sam looked down the hall to the atrium. Moira and Dean went into the library, but Sam felt compelled to go to the atrium. He pushed open a wrought iron and glass door and stepped inside the large room. It had stonewalls with large windows that surrounded the entire room that stretched up to a glass ceiling. The room was cold and mostly empty. Fluorescent lights hung from poles attached to girders spanning places between the glass ceiling panels. It was apparent that the room wasn't really used anymore. Sam felt a wave of nausea pass through him and then he really looked at the room. It was the same room he had been dreaming about for the last week. It was the room he would die in to save Dean. The nightmare had been the same for a week. He stood transfixed in the middle of the room as memories of his dream played themselves out in his head.

He remembers coming into this room with Dean after the entity. He isn't far behind his older brother when he sees the entity rematerialize and start for Dean. This entity was evil and angry. It wanted a life force to consume, and killing it was proving difficult. It would take hollowed dirt, and sage ash, so Dean had replaced the rock salt in the shotgun with gun shells filled with this, but he hadn't been able to get a clear shot, not yet.

Sam clenched his fists at his side involuntarily as more of the memories continued to wash over him. In his dream, he sees the entity move at his big brother to kill him. He yells at Dean and pushes him aside as the entity passes through him. He remembers feeling a deep cold begin to fill his body. He remembers hearing his brother's voice scream his name, and then hearing the gunshot as Dean fired on the entity, killing it. And, now this was where his nightmare became different than others. It was almost as if he becomes a spectator. He watches from a short distance as the rest of the dream plays itself out. He watched himself turn slowly to face Dean, and his older brother run to him as he started to collapse. He watches his brother gently lower him to the ground and cradle his head in his lap. He sees the tears in his sibling's eyes, and hears his voice catch in his throat as he speaks, "Sammy, you're going to be okay."

Sam sees himself look at Dean for a long moment, and hears himself say quietly, "not your fault." He pauses. "Sorry," his voice growing quieter, as death began to claim him.

"Sam, you're not leavin' me. Hang on." Dean's voice was pleading. "Why did you get in the way?"

"Couldn't let it have you," Sam answered weakly, as he locked eyes with his brother. And, then his eyes started to close

"No! Sam, stay with me," Dean shouted. His tone changed, and a sob escaped his lips, "don't leave me alone, Sammy. Please."

And, Sam with his last breath had to reassure his brother, "never alone." And, he watched his head lull to one side in his brother's hands, and he died. Sam still didn't disconnect from the dream, and still he was a spectator. He watched his brother cry with wracking sobs saying his name over and over. He watched Dean cradle his limp body against himself and rock. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. His older brother always had a disdain for chick flick moments, but this was beyond that. His older brother was grieving; his brother loved him. But, something in him resisted believing.

This is where the dream always ended for Sam. It seemed like hours had passed since he entered the atrium, but it was only moments when he snapped out of his memories. He heard Dean and Moira's voices in the hall. He heard Dean call for him and Moira say she saw him go toward the atrium. Sam stood fixed in one spot with his back to the door.

"Sam?" Dean said as he and Moira entered the room and he saw his younger brother standing there. Sam spun around looking startled. Moira studied him with concern.

"You all right?" Dean asked staring at his obviously shaken younger brother.

"Yeah," his answer was short and his voice tense. "I'll be outside." He left the room as quickly as he could, but he brushed Moira as he blew by. She saw in that brief instant of contact everything Sam had just remembered, but she remained silent.

"Sam!" Dean shouted at his brother's retreating back, but it was pointless Sam was all ready half way down the hall.

"Is he okay?"

"Yeah, I'll talk to him." Dean paused. We'll get the entity out of here, but I think it'll be a tough night tomorrow. I gotta ask, why do you live in a place so full of spirits?"

"They have chosen to be here, and they are good spirits except for the latest tenet."

"I guess it's true it takes all sorts."

Moira laughed. "Yes, I suppose it is true. After all, you and your brother hunt down evil."

"You have a point," Dean said with a grin.

Moira finished showing Dean around the atrium and then led him back out the front door. They both saw Sam sitting on the front stone stairs, and Moira heard a car coming up the driveway. "That must be Martin, my son. I'll go get him settled and then I'll introduce you and Sam."

"Sounds good. I think I better see what has him so jumpy." Moira nodded in agreement.

Dean walked up to his brother and sat down next to him. "So, you want to tell me what that was all about?"

"The place just gives me the willies that's all. Drop it." Sam's voice was irritated.

"No, I'm not dropping it, Sam. If you're going to be this jumpy tomorrow night when we go after this thing you're going to be a liability."

"Screw you, Dean." Sam rose to his feet abruptly and started to walk away from Dean toward the gardens.

"Hey, don't you walk away from me. I'm talking to you." All Dean got in return was Sam's middle finger as he continued walking to the gardens without turning to acknowledge his older brother. Dean didn't follow him.

Two Hours Later

Moira walked through the gardens to locate Sam. She had asked Dean if she could talk to him. She walked through the labyrinth part of the gardens and out the back toward the pond, and she saw Sam sitting on the bench by the water. "May I?" Her voice startled Sam when she spoke.

"Yeah, of course," he motioned to the empty spot next to him. "I'm sorry about earlier."

"No apologies required. We need to have a talk."

"Moira, what happened today won't happen tomorrow night."

"That's not what I want to talk about."

"Oh."

"You're not going to tell Dean are you?"

Sam looked at Moira with unsure eyes. "Tell him what?"

"About your dream."

"What? How?" Sam's eyes were wide.

"When you brushed my arm earlier, I saw it."

"You can't say anything to Dean."

"I'm not planning to, but you should."

"Yeah, I'll waltz back to him and say, 'hey, Dean. I'm gonna die tomorrow night, but let's do the hunt anyway.' He'll lose it."

"You save his life, Sam."

"He'll go in alone if I tell him. I can't allow that. Can't run from fate," he offered, his voice quiet.

"You're not afraid, why?" Moira asked.

"I'd rather it be me than him. Anyway, everybody has to die someday."

"Yes, but maybe death isn't coming for you, yet."

"Why do think that?"

"You know," Moira asserted. "You felt the same presence I did from your dream. There is something else in that room with you before the entity passes through you. I saw what you did. I saw you watching Dean hold your body. You were an observer of your own death. I think something else may be here, an unknown factor that you or I can't see."

"Maybe. I did feel something, a presence." Sam paused. "So, you won't say anything to him?"

"No. But, Sam, you saw him in the dream. He was devastated." Moira glanced at Sam, and continued, "and that surprises you?"

"I know Dean cares about me, but I guess I always sort of thought I was the pain in the ass little brother. You know what I mean, an obligation, a burden."

"Well, I think he distances himself as he does in order to make sure he can protect you. Perhaps, he limits his attachment a bit, so that nothing can get the upper hand on you or him, if he's too focused on you." Moira paused and smiled for a moment at Sam. "Maybe, his detachment is a form of attachment for him. I know he loves you."

"Yeah, maybe you're right. But, I'm not telling him."

"That's up to you." Moira stood up, and turned toward Sam. "Come on, I want to introduce you to Martin, and I've fixed some lunch. Dean and Martin were all ready eating when I left them." Sam offered a small smile, and stood up.

"Okay." He offered Moira his arm.

"Chivalry isn't dead I see." The older woman took his arm as they walked back to meet Dean and Martin.

Later that Night

Sam and Dean shared the second guesthouse and for a change they both had there own bedrooms. Sam had gone to bed a couple of hours ago, but he wasn't asleep. He just stared up at the ceiling. He and Dean hadn't much to say to one another. And, he started thinking about this being their last night together if his dream comes true tomorrow night. He tossed and turned, and decided to get up. He opened his door and crept down the hall to the stairs. He glanced down the short hallway and could see that Dean's door was closed, but not all the way. Dean was awake and heard Sam open his door and go down the stairs. He too, had been staring at the ceiling. His mind was preoccupied with a dozen different thoughts of what could be bothering his younger brother. Dean stared into the shadows of the room for twenty minutes waiting to hear if Sam would go back to bed, but he hadn't, so got up.

Dean tried to be quiet as he went down the stairs. He walked into the front room, but Sam wasn't there. And, when he got to the kitchen it was empty, as well. The moon was full and Dean could see Sam out back through the kitchen door sitting on the swing of a children's play set. He studied Sam for a couple minutes and walked outside. He walked up beside his younger brother and took a seat in the second swing. "Sammy? What's wrong?"

"Dean," Sam's voice was quiet.

"And, don't say you're okay." Dean looked at his little brother with concern, but Sam kept his head down and wouldn't look at his brother.

"I'm sorry about today."

"That's over and done. But, it doesn't explain what happened earlier in that house."

Sam turned and looked at his brother and the truth was on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn't form the words. "I…" he began tentatively and started over. "Today, that room, the atrium, it wasn't the first time I've seen that place." Dean looked at Sam for a long moment and then realized what he was saying.

"You had a dream about it?"

"On and off for a few days."

"What happens in the dream?" Dean's voice was low and serious.

"Don't know," Sam lied. "Nothing specific. We go after the entity there, and I wake up."

"That's all? What aren't you saying?"

"Nothing," Sam dropped his gaze away from his brother. And, Dean knew something bad must happen. "I'm tired," Sam spoke again. "I'm goin' back to bed." The younger brother got up and started to walk back to the guesthouse.

"I'll be inside shortly," Dean replied.

"Okay, but you better get some sleep for tomorrow night."

"Don't worry about me. I'll be completely on my game tomorrow night. Just another evil bastard to send to hell."

"Yeah," Sam smiled slightly. "'Night."

"Yeah, good night. And, get some sleep Sammy." His younger brother just waved his arm in acknowledgement.

Dean sat on the swing for a while. His mind was racing. What could Sam have seen in that dream? What was he holding back? Then, Dean started think Sam saw him get hurt or worse killed. But, he doubted Sam would keep something like from him. After all, he had no plans of being on the losing end of tomorrow night's hunt. But, his mind was still troubled because he knew Sam was keeping something from him.

Sam sat at the desk in his room staring out the window when he heard Dean climb the stairs. He heard his older brother's footsteps stop near his door for a moment and then continue on toward his own room. Sam pulled a notebook out of his duffel bag, and started writing.

Sam looked inside the desk drawer and found an envelope. He folded the letter and sealed the envelope. He wrote Dean's name on the outside, and tucked it away in his duffel.

Nightfall, the Next Day

The day had been filled with preparation for the hunt. Dean and Sam walked through the house again re-familiarizing themselves with the layout. Moira and Martin would wait outside at Dean and Sam's request unless they were absolutely needed.

Dean was talking to Martin with possible scenarios while Sam excused himself to run in the guesthouse, and grab the letter. He made sure Dean didn't notice him hand it to Moira. "In case," was all he said. Moira nodded.

"You're sure about this."

"No other way."

The Hunt Begins

Dean and Sam entered the house, and the older Winchester brother's homemade EMF detector was lighting up like a Christmas tree. "Damn, with all the spirit activity in this place how are we going to zero in on this bitch of an entity?" Dean muttered in frustration.

"Not a problem." Sam's voice was odd and Dean looked at him. Sam looked sick.

"You okay?"

"I feel it up there," Sam pointed up the stairs. "God, I feel like I wanna toss."

"Sam, maybe…" Dean had never seen this kind of reaction from his brother.

"No, Maybe. We gotta do this Dean." They started up the stairs and Sam fought the waves of nausea he was feeling.

Sam felt a presence near him, but didn't feel in danger. Dean had moved ahead down the hall, and Sam followed him into a room. Soon there was a loud growl that seemed to encompass the entire top floor. It resonated off the walls, and Sam and Dean could feel it in their chests, as if they were standing next to speakers at a concert. The entity showed itself. Dean dodged a flying piece of furniture, but the entity appeared as a solid black figure that resembled the body of a man. Dean raised the gun he had loaded with the proper killing agent for an entity, but it turned toward him and waved what looked like an arm and Dean flew backwards out into the hall. Sam spun to see his brother land, and was in one piece; then the door slammed closing him inside with the entity. Dean shook off his confusion just in time to see the door close. "Sam!"

The younger Winchester could hear his brother yelling his name, but he had a bigger fish to fry. A roar grew so loud in the room that Sam covered his ears, and it became so intense that he began to scream. Dean could hear his brother's screams through the roar, and he beat on the door calling his name, but Sam wasn't answering him. Sam didn't expect what happened next – he saw two light orbs form in the room, and then materialize into two corporeal spirits. The entity's anger grew in intensity, as it became corporeal, too. An invisible force restrained the other sprits, and Sam knew this entity was strong. The roar still filled the room, but now Sam did see a man, dark hair, and black soulless eyes. He grabbed Sam by the throat, and then it spoke.

"I know you. I've known you all your life." The voice hissed.

"What are you?" Sam gasped out as his air was cut off by the entity's strong grip.

"You know." And, Sam did, at least one part of him did. It smiled knowing that the young man did know.

Its' voice grew to a whisper, and it pulled Sam close, and it spoke in his ear. "Should have never been born." The spirits broke free of the entity's force. And, then there was a cacophony of noise and light flashes. And, the flashes blinded Sam. Dean's knuckles were bloody from hitting the door, and his voice was growing raspy from screaming Sam's name.

"Sammy! Please, answer me!" Dean's voice pleaded.

And, just as quickly as the noise and lights began, it was silent. Sam felt something grasp his shoulder, and help him stand. He looked into the eyes of a man he didn't know, and there was another spirit with him, but he couldn't make out the features of it because it kept to the shadow. "You must trust me," was all it said. "The entity will return, we have to act quickly."

"Who the hell are you?" Sam tried to pull from the grip on his shoulder. Sam could hear Dean banging on the door still calling his name.

"Not important, it's begun to return." The growl began again, and the sound was growing even more deafening. And, again it repeated, "You must trust me." And then what followed Sam wouldn't have believed if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes, he saw himself step from the shadows.

"Huh?" was his only reaction. All he could do was stare. And, then his double spoke.

"No time to explain really." It even sounded like Sam. "Let's just say I'm a Doppelganger in need of redemption. I need to see your memories," and with that it placed both hands on Sam's face. And, the double acquired every memory up to the very moment he touched the younger Winchester's face. Everything played through Sam's mind like a movie, and he could feel his world slipping away. "It's done," was the last thing Sam heard his double say to the unknown man, and he passed out.

"I'll take him to safety. You know what to do," the man said to the double. The Doppelganger nodded. "Thank you."

"Like I said redemption. You better take him." There was a bright light that formed in the wall, and the unknown man carried Sam into the light, and was gone. There was one final bright flash as the nexus closed. Dean kicked and hit the door. His voice was being drowned out by the growling. And, then suddenly the growling stopped and the door opened. Dean struggled to adjust his eyes to the dark of the room.

"Sammy?" He saw a figure crouched in the corner covering his head. The moonlight cast in through the draperies and he saw his little brother clearly. "Sammy?" His voice quiet, but urgent. He went to his knees and reached out to touch his little brother. His hand rested on top of his kid brother's head, and to his relief he saw Sam raise his head and meet his brother's gaze.

"Dean?"

"Yeah, you okay?"

"Fine."

"What happened? Are you sure you're okay?"

"Yeah, we gotta get this bastard."

Dean offered Sam a hand to get to stand up. The lights flickered on and off, and Dean caught sight of the bruise around Sam's neck. "What happened? You're hurt."

"It grabbed me by the throat. Not a big deal. Come on."

Dean watched his brother start for the stairs. "Hey, maybe we shouldn't go charging over the proverbial hill. I mean, look what happened to Custer."

"Since when do you over analyze in a hunt. You're the gun hoe type."

"Yeah, well, maybe I wanna see us both live through this," Dean's voice was annoyed.

"I got your back, Dean." They both reached the bottom landing in the foyer, and turned toward the atrium. Dean reached his hand out and grabbed Sam.

"Wait! I thought you had a dream about that place."

"Yeah, that's where we find it. You kill it."

"Hey, I thought you didn't remember anything specific."

"Well, I'm remembering now. Get your gun ready. It has to be a direct hit with the hollowed dirt and sage ash."

"Sam…" Dean's voice was hesitant. "Let me do this. You wait here."

"No, you'll need me in there." Sam's tone of voice brooked no argument, and the older Winchester acquiesced to his little brother.

"All right, but you stay behind me, and keep frosty."

"Yeah, okay, G.I. Joe."

"Wise Ass." Dean said with a smirk.

"Learned from the best." Sam returned with a smile. "Let's do this."

"Remember what I said," Dean's eyes leveled an intense look on his brother. His younger brother just rolled his eyes at him.

Dean and Sam headed for the atrium.

Meanwhile

Sam became vaguely aware of a cold floor beneath him, and when he opened his eyes he saw the mystery man again. He sat up and looked around. "Where are we?"

"In between two plains. It's the only place I can hide you from it, so that it won't know."

"Know what?"

"That you've been replaced." And then Sam remembered the moments before his world had previously slipped away from him.

"I can't stay here. My brother's in trouble; If I not there to…" he was cut short.

"There to what? Save him. Don't worry this was always the way things were meant to go, but I won't allow you to die. And, your brother will live, saved by you."

"But…" Sam was confused. And, then slowly his dream made sense. Now, he knew why he was able to see himself save Dean, watch himself die, watch his brother grieve, but he never saw what happened after that. "Who are you? Why would you do this? Why would a Doppelganger die in my place?"

"Just call me Will. I owe you and your brother, and I never leave a debt unpaid, even in death I wouldn't. And, as to the Doppelganger, he had his own reasons, but I'm thankful for his sacrifice."

"I've never seen you before. How can you owe us?"

"Roosevelt Asylum," the answer was short, but suddenly Sam knew.

"You were a trapped spirit until Dean burned the Doctor's bones, right?"

"Yes. I was placed there against my wishes, and I died there in the riot. I owe my release to you and your brother." The man reached out a corporeal hand to Sam and helped him up from the floor. "This may not be easy to watch, but it's important for you to. It's just as important for your brother to go through this."

"Go through what? You said he'd be safe."

"He will be. I meant it's important for you to see his grief, experience it, and he needs to live through his worst fear."

"What's that?"

"Your death," the man said simply. "His greatest fear on any hunt is losing you, not being able to protect you. He must face this fear today; otherwise it could cause both your deaths in the future."

"Why do I have to watch him, watch me die?"

"Because you need to see your greatest fear isn't real. You need to see that your brother loves you, and doesn't see you as a burden. But, most of all you need to see his grief, so that you know he doesn't blame you for the evil that took your mother."

"That thing, the entity, said I should have never been born. It said, it knows me, and I know it. I know I do."

"This evil knows you because it knows the thing that took your mother and Jessica away. Evil like this shares common bonds." The man turned toward a wall, and waved his hand. Sam could see the atrium; it was like watching a zoo exhibit. You can watch, but not touch. Your dream was bits and pieces, so you may see and hear things that you haven't all ready seen." He saw his double and Dean enter the room, and he knew what was coming. "And, remember, this will be difficult to watch. You'll be able to hear them, but they won't hear you."

Back to the Atrium

Sam walked closely behind Dean as they entered the room. The atrium was cold and it was getting colder. A growling was growing in the room, and then Sam saw it, the entity rematerialized and set its' sites on Dean. "No! Dean, look out!" Sam shouted and shoved Dean to the ground before he could react. Dean turned just in time to see the entity pass through his little brother.

"Sammy! No!" Dean raised the gun at the entity as it bore down on him. And, he got a clean shot, and the evil was sent back to Hell. There was an explosive sound that echoed and a flash of bright light, and it was over. Dean dropped the gun. Sam turned around slowly to face Dean. The young man began to collapse, but Dean caught him and lowered him to the ground gently cradling him partially across his lap. "Sammy, you're going to be okay." Dean could feel the panic and desperation filling him. Sam felt cold in his arms.

"Not your fault," Sam paused to draw in a slow breath. "Sorry," his voice was growing quieter, as death began to claim this body.

"Sam, you're not leavin' me. Hang on." Deans' voice was pleading, but demanding. "Why did you get in the way?" He shook him slightly in anger.

"Couldn't let it have you," Sam answered weakly, as he locked eyes with Dean. And, then his eyes began to close.

"No! Sam, stay with me," Dean shouted. His tone changed, and a sob escaped his lips, "don't leave me alone, Sammy. Please."

And, a slight smile passed across Sam's face. And, with his last breath he had to reassure the older brother, "never alone." And, Dean watched Sam's head gently lull to one side in his hand's, and all was silent. Sam was dead. The emotions that took over filled Dean with something akin to agony, a grief absolute. "Sammy, no. Sam, please." It was over and his little brother was gone, and he knew it. Dean pulled Sam's limp body to himself, and cradled it, rocking back and forth. He wept with wracking sobs clinging to his little brother's body. "I'm so sorry," he mumbled between sobs. "I couldn't keep you safe. Please…" Dean just continued to cradle Sam against himself. There was a noise to the right of him and he saw Moira and Martin standing in the doorway. He saw their faces and saw the sympathy there, and he could feel how cold his brother was becoming in his arms. He didn't want their sympathy, he wanted his brother back, he wanted Sammy back.

Moira walked cautiously to Dean. "Dean, I'm so sorry."

"Don't," the words were quiet. "Don't say it. He's not dead. He's just sleeping."

"Dean." There was a tone in her voice that brought him back from the denial he wanted to slip into. "Come away from this room." He clung tighter to Sam's body.

"No, I can't leave him. He'll be alone." He cupped Sam's cheek with his hand.

"Dean, please. Sam wouldn't want this. You're exhausted. You need to rest." She bent down and touched Dean's face. Her hand was warm, and the contrast of her warmth and the coldness of Sam's cheek beneath his own hand was too much to bare. Dean succumbed to a welcoming darkness that was far away from this agonizing loss and he lost consciousness.

Moira gently moved Sam from Dean's arms, and placed him gently beside his brother. "Martin," Moira instructed her son toward Dean. "Please, take him to the guesthouse he was sharing with Sam. I suspect he'll be out to morning. I'll keep watch over him."

"What about, Sam." Martin looked at the young boy with sadness.

"He'll be safe here for the evening. He isn't alone. The spirits will keep watch. I need to stay for a few minutes. Take Dean from here." And, with that Martin gently picked up Dean and carried his unconscious body from the atrium. Moira sat down next to Sam, and took his head in her lap. "Sam, I feel you here. So, I hope you can hear," she paused. "I think you can. I have to believe that. Oh, sweet boy, I'll look after Dean, and try to see him through this, as best I can. This place is safe, and if your spirit wants to stay, you're welcome to." Moira felt conflicted. She sensed Sam's presence, but there was something she couldn't put her finger on. She placed a kiss on Sam's forehead. She got up and started to walk away. She turned toward the prone body in the middle of the room, "sleep well. Be at peace." She turned the light off leaving the room dark except for the bright moonlight filling the dark corners.

Meanwhile

"I need out of here. My brother needs me. They think I'm dead."

"He must feel the completeness of your death, and you have to assimilate new thoughts."

"Damn you. My brother was gutted, and it's your fault."

"No, what I gave him is his brother. If I hadn't interfered you would be there right now, dead. And, Dean would be alone." There was a gathering of light that drew both their attentions back to the room. Lights gathered around the doubles body lifting it up from the cold ground, and the lights and the body dissipated into a mist of light that resembled a wave of light, and was gone. But, not before a light shot out toward the real Sam that caused him to stumble back. The memories that the double had acquired while it took Sam's place had just been passed onto the real Sam.

"What just happened?" Sam asked amazed at what he just saw and didn't understand what had just gone through him. He turned to the spirit he now knew as, Will, and saw the man smile.

"He gave you some memories that he acquired with Dean while being you. And, for him the answer is simple: Redemption is what just happened. Good for you my friend. Rest well." And, Sam understood. He had no idea how he was going to explain any of this to Dean.

"When can I see him? I want out of this place."

"Tomorrow. And, then we shall part company."

The Guesthouse

Dean's sleep was dreams were filled with memories of Sam, good and bad. He moved fitfully in the bed, and Moira reached out a hand and rubbed Dean's arm. She sat in a rocking chair beside the bed. "Shh…" She comforted. "It will be all right." Dean quieted under her touch.

When the sun rose that morning it fell across Dean's bed drawing him from a dream. It was a warm dream of him and Sam in the Impala laughing about something. He opened his eyes slowly, squinting at the light. He smiled at he remnants of the dream that still clung to him and stretched. And, then reality started to slip back into his memory. He jerked up in the bed, "Sammy!" He called out. He leapt from the bed, and ran to Sam's room. The bed was empty, and the room silent. He heard footsteps on the stairs, "Sam?" He called out, his voice hopeful. He clung to the idea it had all been a bad dream. And, then Moira appeared and he knew Sam was gone. His legs gave out and he buckled to the floor in Sam's room.

"Oh, Dean, it will be okay."

"He's gone isn't he?"

"Yes. Please, come back to bed. You should rest."

"Rest? I can't rest. Where is my brother?"

"The atrium. I'm positive the house took care of him last night. The spirit house is a nexus for spiritual activity. He wasn't alone."

"I need to see him."

"I have something for you, Dean. Let's go back to your room, and I'll give it to you." Dean was numb. He let Moira help him up from the floor and he allowed himself to be guided back to his room, and she urged him into the rocking chair. She pulled an envelope from a pocket in her cover-up. Dean looked at it, and before he could ask her what it was he noticed the tight scribble of his brother's handwriting. The envelope said simply, Dean.

The oldest Winchester felt his throat tighten and his jaw clench as he tried to stave off the onslaught of emotions pushing at the dam inside him wanting to burst free. "He knew didn't he?" His voice was quiet.

Moira looked at him. "Yes." Her answer was short because she knew there was nothing she could say to make any of this better for Dean. "I'll leave you alone. Martin and I will be downstairs if you need anything." Dean nodded out of reflex. He really didn't focus on what she was saying after he heard the word 'yes.'

Dear Dean,

I'm not sure what to say or where to begin. I just don't want things to go left unsaid. And, if you're reading this letter I know I'm not there to say them. It wasn't your fault, and I'd do it again. I wanted to thank you for being there for me in your own way after Jess's death. If you hadn't come back that night after dropping me off I'd probably have stayed inside and died with Jess. Although, I meant to ask you why you came back that night. I'm glad we had the time we did. Tell, Dad I love him, and I know that he thought he was doing the right thing by us in teaching us to be warriors. I didn't understand for a long time why he had to tell us what was really out there in the dark, but I do now. He just wanted us to be survivors. He didn't want to lose us like he did Mom. I'm glad we set things right tonight at the swings, and I'm sorry I lied to you. And, I'm sure you know I was keeping something from you, but I had to in order to protect you. I just want you to know that you aren't allowed to blame yourself for any of this. And, you're not alone, not really. Find Dad, and don't give up the fight. Keep safe.

Love,

Sam

The letter shook in Dean's hands. His little brother was gone, and he went into that house knowing he was going to die. Sam died to save him. Dean had always been prepared to die for Sam; he had always been prepared to go first. Everything was so backwards. He traced Sam's signature with an index finger. "Sammy, this is screwed up, and I'm so pissed. How could you not tell me? Damn you!" He ground out in a low growl, and then the anger disappeared as quickly as it had come and was replaced with hot tears that stung his eyes spilling over and down his cheeks. "Love you, too," he whispered. "I miss you so much Sammy. I want my little pain in the ass brother back." But, Dean knew that wasn't to be. Sam was gone. He'd never see twenty-three, and he never see a normal life. Dean was angry at everything his little brother would never do now. He needed to see Sam. He folded the letter and put it back into its' envelope. He slid it into his jacket pocket as it hung over the desk chair. He put his shoes and jacket on and went down stairs.

Moira wanted to see Dean to the atrium and then she would leave him with Sam. When they got there it was plain to see that Sam's body was gone. "Where is my brother?" Dean shouted. Moira could feel Sam's presence stronger than ever.

"I think the house took him Dean. I feel him here. I can't explain it. But, I know he's here. Perhaps, he decided to stay here rather than to cross over. But, I feel him."

"Please, just leave me alone." Dean felt like a deflated balloon. Moira left him alone. He stared at the floor remembering last night's events and holding his dead brother's body in his arms. Memories flooded back of their final moments together as brothers. He remembered Sam's last words. "You said I'd never be alone Sam. You said, never alone. What am I now."

"Not alone," the familiar voice made him spin around. There stood his brother. The sunlight was cascading in the windows creating an almost celestial look around Sam. Dean was convinced it was his brother's spirit. Dean thought Sam looked tired. And, he was he hadn't rested at all while waiting to be released from the in-between plain to get back to his big brother. But, he was here now.

"Sammy," Dean took a step toward his brother. "I'm sorry, Sam."

"For what?"

"I didn't protect you."

"Dean there isn't a big brother handbook that says you have to always be the protector. Maybe, it was finally your turn to be protected."

"It's my fault you were killed."

"Killed?" And, then Sam understood. "No, you've got the wrong idea. I'm not dead."

Dean just stared at his little brother. His heart sank. "No, Sammy, your confused. You saved me last night. You died in my arms." Dean's eyes began to tear up.

"It's a long story, but I'm not dead, Dean. Trust me on this one man."

"You died in my arms, Sammy. I watched you take your last breath. You died." Dean was resisting the idea that Sam was alive.

"Yeah, I did, but I didn't."

"You did, but you didn't. How's that work?" Dean couldn't believe he was actually fighting with his brother over being dead.

"Damn you're a hard ass. I said it's a long story. But, I'm here. I'm alive. Man, Dean, I thought you'd be glad man."

Dean stared at his brother for a long moment. He fought his rationalizations that told him Sam was dead. He moved forward. He reached out and touched the side of Sam's face. He felt warmth there. It was a warmth that broke through the iciness that had settled in his soul when Sam died in his arms last night. "Sammy." His voice shook. And, Sam reached up and put his hand on top of Dean's as it cupped his face.

"Right here."

The truth finally set in with Dean. He didn't care about the long story, and suddenly he felt the dam break. He pulled Sam roughly to himself. "You're here. You're alive." He held on tightly to Sam afraid to let go.

"Air, Dean."

"Huh," he mumbled into Sam's neck as he held him tightly.

"Air," Sam squeezed out. And, Dean realized what he what saying, and he released his brother slightly, but not completely. Finally, he pulled back, and looked Sam over.

"Are you okay? You look tired" Dean looked at Sam with concern.

"Man, right back into big brother mode." Sam said with exasperation. "I guess I have a lot to talk to you about."

"Later," Dean inserted. "You didn't answer my question, you okay?"

"I'm fine." Dean smiled and burst out laughing. It was his little brother's patented response to question concerning his well being. Sam looked at his brother as if he had lost it. "What's so funny?"

"I got my brother back," Dean said with a big smile, and pulled Sam into another hug. There was time to say things now, to explain things. But, most of all there was just time left between them, and Dean felt at peace.

The End