Title: Broken

Author: Oldach's Dream

Summary: There was a place inside Sam where cold flames lived and burned.

Angst, character death. Disregards everything after Shadow. Full summary inside.

Disclaimer: I own nothing of Supernatural.

Rating: T

A/N: Okay, the plot up until the episode Shadow happened, but after that I'm making everything up. This a future fic and takes place after the final, ceiling demon, battle - well, my version of it. Details will be explained as the story continues. Please R&R.

Chapter One: Between the searching and the need to work it out

"Okay, so this demon…"

"Spirit." The elder Winchester corrected automatically.

"I thought we settled on demon," Sam argued, glancing up from the printed out sheets of paper in his hand.

Dean shook his head; looking laid back on the motel bed across from Sam's. "Spirit makes more sense. It wants revenge for its death."

"No," Sam said slowly, "It wants to kill anyone who walks through the park at midnight." He looked at his brother meaningfully. "Midnight. The time where the veil between different worlds is the weakest. Where a demon could easily pop up from hell."

"No," Dean argued. "That's reaching. That girl who was murdered in the park, at midnight, her spirit is probably haunting it."

"But the murders don't fit a pattern like most hauntings do." Sam set the papers down and focused solely on his brother, who had sat up on the edge of the mattress. "If it was the spirit of the girl who was killed there, wouldn't it make more sense for all the victims to fit a similar profile? Acted, or looked, like the man who killed her?"

"Or her spirit could be angry." Dean's voice was level. "It could be lashing out towards anyone that's near the place she was murdered, at the time she was murdered."

"Or it's a demon."

"Demon's don't stick to one place like that. Not when they have the power to spread themselves out."

"And what if it doesn't?" Sam asked. "Have that power?"

"Then it would at least have the strength to kill at all times of the day."

"Not necessarily." Surly Dean could accept that Sam had read more on the subject than he had. "If someone was summoning it…"

"Too bad we already killed your demon girlfriend." Dean smirked. "She'd be a prime suspect."

"Yeah," Sam rolled his eyes. "Too bad."

There was a moment of silence, during which, each brother tried his best to think of a persuasive argument in their respective favor.

"How 'bout this…" Sam started, realizing first that they were at a stalemate. "If it is just a haunting, all I'll have to do is burn the bones. But if it's a demon, it'll be exorcism time, right?"

"Yeah," Dean nodded, looking skeptical, "So?"

"And all the attacks have happened at midnight, right?" He went on.

"Around then." Dean nodded again. "Midnight, one. I think the latest time of death was recorded at two twenty six, or something like that."

Sam nodded, the simple solution now very apparent. "Then how about I just go down to the graveyard at three or four in the morning?" He asked, glancing at the neon motel clock. That wasn't too far off. "I'll dig up the bones, burn 'em, then go back at midnight tomorrow. If something happens, I'm right. Nothing happens, you're right. Sound good?"

"Ah, one problem, Francis." His brother sounded annoyed. "What if you are right? What if it's a demon?"

"Then I'll exorcize it." Sam said simply. "I've done it before."

"Yeah," Dean said sarcastically. "When I was there to back you up. I won't be this time."

"I know that." Sam snapped, the conversation was starting to border on that thing they never talked about. "I don't need you. Come on, last time you were backed into a corner, terrified. Not exactly useful, if I do say so myself."

"Not my fault it was on a freaking airplane." Dean snapped, then paused. "I think if it is a demon, you should call dad."

"No way." Sam said immediately. "I don't need his help."

"Like hell you don't." He was talking about more than the hunt. More than this demon vs. spirit thing. "You do, you know you do." Dean said evenly.

Sam shook his head forcefully. "He's probably on his own hunt right now, anyway. I don't need him, and he really doesn't need me getting in his way."

"He's your father." Dean's tone was that same defensive one that he always got when discussing John Winchester. "He'll help you. You guys need each other."

"No," Sam said evenly. "What we need is to keep hunting. Until we find the thing…we just need to keep hunting."

"I get that Sammy, I really do, but…"

"Good." Sam cut him off. "Then you agree with my plan?"

Dean sighed. "Do I really have a choice in the matter?"

Sam looked at him, sadness radiating off him in waves. "I guess not."

The elder sighed again. "Then go for it." He paused. "It is a good plan"

Sam nodded. "You did the same thing a few years ago." Dean looked at his little brother, confusion portrayed clearly on his features. "That poltergeist in Connecticut." He reminded.

"Oh yeah," Dean smiled. "Of course, that wasn't so much strategy as…you know, a guess."

"Well, we knew either water or fire would kill it." Sam smiled himself. God his brother could be a moron.

"That's the tricky thing with elemental poltergeists." Dean smiled. "And that house was by a lake, and had about sixteen fire places."

"Gotta love rich people." He smirked, remembering the mansion that the Winchester's had been guests in for nearly two weeks following that kill. "But seriously, did you really have to jump into the lake?"

"Well it was after me, wasn't it?"

"And if water hadn't been its weakness, it probably would have killed you." Sam argued, memories of the emotions he'd felt during that particular hunt resurfacing.

Dean just shrugged a shoulder. "You win some, you lose some. Death is highly underrated."

Sam snorted. "Come on man, I was seventeen years old, if you'd of died then, I'd have been alone with dad."

"That would of been interesting." Dean paused and considered it, smiling widening after a few moments. "Really interesting. Dad's not too much of a talker when you're alone with him. I think you would have driven each other nuts."

"Did you guys?" Sam's voice was suddenly serious. "Drive each other nuts while I was away at Stanford?"

It was something they had never discussed. Something Sam had always been afraid to bring up. But his fear was gone now.

Dean ducked his head. "Does that really matter?" He asked evenly, almost pleadingly.

"I wanna know."

He sighed. "It wasn't that bad." And Sam believed him, because Dean was incredibly honest now. "The first couple weeks were rough. Awkward, mostly. Then we split up and took on our own gigs. It was better when we weren't crowding each other."

"You guys didn't work together at all?"

"No," Dean assured. "We did. We were just better apart. Still am I guess."

"It was always supposed to be me and you, wasn't it?" The tone in Sam's voice was hard to identify. Regretful acceptance, maybe. "Me and you against everything."

Dean shrugged. "I work well alone."

"You hate being alone." He countered. He knew his brother.

"I love being alone."

Sadly, both were true.

"You like being with me more." Not arrogance, just a fact.

"Yeah well, you're my brother." He stated simply. "I need you around sometimes."

"I need you around all the time." Admitting this stuff wasn't awkwardly emotional anymore. Sam relished the freedom to say whatever he wanted to his big brother. "I'd be dead by now if it wasn't for you."

Dean chuckled hollowly, before countering with, "You spent four years alone at college. Didn't need me so much then."

"I was stupid." Sam felt ashamed of his actions years before. "I should have stuck around. I owed you that."

"You don't owe me anything."

Sam snorted. "Just my life a few times over."

"Yeah, well…" Dean trailed off, because he could not argue that. Silence spread between the two. It was one of those odd silences that had no real definition. It wasn't awkward or forced or comfortable. It was just a lack of anything else to say.

It didn't last too long. "Hey Sammy?"

"Yeah?" He didn't correct the use of the nickname anymore. "You ever think about going back to school?"

"Yeah." Sam admitted easily. "But I'm not going to."

"Why?" Dean sounded sad.

"You know why." He said simply. "I don't think I could go back. That's not my life anymore."

"It could be."

"No." He stated softly, yet firmly. "It couldn't." There was a long pause. "I'm not sure it ever was."

"Please," Dean snorted. "You're the blonde chick in the Munsters, remember? You're the normalist one in our little demented family circle."

"Normalsit isn't a word." The younger brother informed in lieu of an actual response.

"Sorry," Dean said sarcastically. "I left my word of the day calendar at the other motel."

Sam smiled. "I'll pick you up a thesaurus at the next book store we pass."

"Yeah, maybe I'll learn a new word for avoidance." He said, "Because I think all I can say right now, is that you're avoiding this subject."

"Yeah," Sam agreed. "I'm being very evasive."

"Cute." Dean shot. "Doesn't change anything."

"Yeah it does." Sam argued. "It proves my vocabulary's bigger than yours."

"That's not usually what chicks are looking for in the 'bigger' category."

Sam ducked his head to hide his growing smirk. "Does everything have to be sexual with you?" He tried his best to sound perturbed.

"Yup." Dean grunted simply. "Unless of course you wanna talk about you going back to school. I think I can keep that topic sexual innuendo free."

"A conversation involving only thoughts from your upstairs brain?" Sam faked a shocked expression. "Didn't know you could do that."

"Please!" Dean exclaimed. "I do that all the time."

Sam shot him a ludicrous look.

Dean bit his lip. "Well, I do that sometimes."

The doubtful expression remained.

"Okay, I'm willing to try to do that," He paused. "If you talk to me about Stanford."

Sam sighed, seriousness returning to his voice. "I don't want to go back."

"A few moths ago you were singing a different tune."

"A few moths ago, a lot was different." Which was a stupid statement, as they both knew that much.

"No shit Sherlock." Dean also saw the obviousness of the excuse. "I still think it'd be better if you went back to that apple pie life you fought so hard to get. Maybe if you do, I'll stop…"

"I want to keep hunting." Sam cut him off. "I…" he met his brother's eyes and was surprised to see the depth of sadness there. "I need to keep hunting. Until I find that demon, at least."

"It wasn't a demon." Dean said evenly.

"Then what was it?" Sam's interest was highly peaked. This was the first time he allowed the subject to come up.

"I don't know." He said honestly. "But it wasn't a demon." He paused and studied his little brother. "Is that why you've been working so hard on this case? You think this is the demon that, ya know." He shrugged.

Yeah, Sam knew.

"I…No," he shook his head quickly. "I've been working so hard on this case because eight people have died in the last month."

"You should really call dad."

Sam stood abruptly. "No. I should head out to the graveyard and see where that girl's buried. Hopefully the ground'll still be soft. I hate digging up graves."

He headed for the front door of the motel room, not bothering to grab his coat on the way out. It was a nice night, and by the time it got colder, he'd be drenched in sweat.

"Sammy?" Dean called; the younger didn't turn, but halted his movements. Hand poised on the doorknob, waiting. "Be careful, alright?"

"Yeah," Sam turned and smiled widely. "Always."

Dean rolled his eyes, but sounded no protest. Sam was outside at the Impala moment's later, engine roaring to life as it always did. The cool, vinyl seats made him feel safe. At home. He didn't dwell on that feeling too long.

After all, he had work to do.