Disclaimer: The characters of Supernatural were created by Eric Kripke and are owned by the CW Network. No profit is being made.

NOTE TO READERS: Well, here we go again, another chapter story. I'm not sure how long this one will be, so I'll play it by ear. This story may require some patience as it develops. There will be angst, but at the start the boys are in their own separate yet together (sort of) angst. I think you'll understand once you begin to read. And, just a small head's up you can expect to see Ellen and some of the other Roadhouse crew, but they won't own the story, so fans that don't like the girls, I think you can still stomach the story. And, there will be NO Dean/Jo relationship happening: friends, yeah, lovers, no way. Let me know what you think. Enjoy, I hope.

Chapter One

The Edge of Madness

By Dawn Nyberg

"…The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven…" John Milton, Paradise Lost

Dean pulled into the visitor parking lot of the Stillwater Center and turned off the car. He let out a long sigh and stared at the building. Its outward appearance was far from imposing; in fact, for the most part it looked rather quaint with its manicured lawns and scrubs. The grounds were dotted with colorful flowers and even a fountain. But, the truth of the situation always landed like a lead rock in Dean's stomach and this place just might as well be the hotel from the Shining because it filled him with just as much dread as that movie did. Dean leaned forward and dropped his forehead down onto his arm that he splayed across the steering wheel as his mind recollected a few short months ago and why he was here on the outside in a parking lot and Sammy was inside.

Eight Months Earlier

"There's got to be another way Sammy," Dean agonized as the crescendo of howling and chaos began to rattle his sternum in his chest. They had discovered another way to get rid of the demon; it wouldn't kill him, but banish him for a very long time. It had taken two years to locate a means to face the demon, but now the moment was here. An ancient ritual where every millennia a champion is chosen to confront a great evil. The demon's army of psychic's he had turned would wage his war, but only if he were here and controlling them. The ritual was a mental conflict between the light and the dark and it was a battle only Sam could do.

"I have to do this Dean there isn't another way. If I don't, all the children still to be born like me will suffer. I can stop it. I can prevent the war. I can send the demon back to a place so deep in hell it'll take him a millennium to crawl his way back to the light."

"And, then what?" Dean spat.

"And, then it will be someone else's turn," Sam replied with a look of peace.

"No, there has to be another way," Dean barked.

"There isn't. I have to do this," Sam looked hard and long at his brother.

"Sammy, no," Dean begged. "What difference does it make? Evil will still exist."

"Yeah, but it'll be down one less sonofabitch at least for a while," Sam quipped with a slight smile. "Dean you gotta let me go. You have to let me do this."

Dean's memories clouded a bit when he thought of the actual confrontation between Sam and the Demon. They had simply looked at one another, but there had been a clear communication happening between them … unspoken. The demon tried to infiltrate and spoil Sam's mind. Sam resisted and accepted all at once, and in that delicate dance Dean remembers witnessing the pain on the demon's face. He was seeing a chink in the armor occurring and it was Sammy causing it, and the price Dean knew far too well, but refused to accept. Sam began an almost meditative trance as he began speaking a series of mantra's he had learned from an ancient text: "I have become one with everything," the demon hissed, but tried to push into Sam's mind again. To own him. To break him."I have become one with you." Sam reasserted."I become everything." Dean remembers seeing the sheen of sweat on his little brother's tired and pained face, but his brother remained steadfast as the demon tried to whittle into Sam's soul once again.

Sam repeated the beginning of the mantra once again before continuing: "I have become one with everything. I have become one with you," he took a step toward the demon, as if, declaring this would end now, tonight, "I become everything." The demon hissed and tried to push into Sam's mind breaking his resolve. Sam's eyes narrowed and he spoke: "Therefore, I become nothing. Therefore, you are nothing," the demon focused on Sam and his face twisted in pain. His brain felt as though a hot poker was digging around in his grey matter peeling and twisting the layers. He grunted and continued: "Without my anger you have no substance. Without my pride you have no form."

There was a howling hot wind that reeked of sulfur and the demon spoke, "You won't win! You have no power. You'll lose yourself. I will win." he hissed. Sam leveled his gaze on the demon and smiled as he finished the mantra.

"Without my hate you have no being," Sam panted out as he felt his mind slip into an abyss within himself. The demon let out a loud scream as he dissolved into a black swirling mist disappearing into a hot vortex of fire. Hell had reclaimed one of its own. Dean had looked up after the cacophony of noise and light had died down and when it was all over his eyes fell on his little brother. Sam's body lay curled on its side in a fetal position rocking. His eyes were vacant and his mind broken and trapped within himself. Dean gathered his brother into his arms, "It's okay Sammy," Dean cooed. "I got ya little brother," he assured. "I got ya." He held Sam close trying to soothe him as if he were five years old, and as much as he hoped his words of comfort were reaching his brother in the abyss of his own mind he knew they weren't, and that shattered him. Both brothers were broken in their own ways.

Eight Months Later, Present Time

Dean pulled himself from his memories. He stepped out of the car and headed into the building. Ellen had suggested Dr. Marcus Winters, a psychiatrist and former hunter she knew through her deceased husband William. She thought if anyone could help Sam it would be him and he knew about the supernatural and he would be someone Dean could confide in and not worry about being locked up himself for talking about demons and the like.

"Hi Dean," Kendra, a unit nurse on Sam's floor replied from the nurses station.

"Hi Kendra," Dean offered a mild smile. "How's Sam today?"

"He had a good night," she assured. Dean felt a slight sense of relief over that simple statement. Sam's last outburst of combativeness had landed him in restraints. "He's in the sunroom right now with Dr. Winters."

"Thanks," Dean replied as he was buzzed through the unit's security door. He walked into the sunroom that was used as an activities room. Dean often found other patients doing puzzles, finger painting and other activities. He saw Dr. Winters sitting with Sam in a corner speaking to him. Sam just stared off out the window. He didn't speak. He never spoke not since that night eight months ago. Dean hated that the windows were covered with metal grids; in fact, all the windows in this unit were covered with metal grids in order to protect them from patients breaking them and to protect the patients from leaping out of them. He hated that his little brother was in a unit for profound psychiatric problems. The staff simply called it the 'Acute Unit.'

"Hi Dean," Dr. Winters said with a smile. "I was just talking to Sam." Dean offered the doctor a quick hand shake, but his eyes only briefly acknowledged the man while his eyes gave his brother an appraising look.

"Any change?" Dean's voice was hopeful.

"No afraid not." The doctor paused. "Dean I need to discuss something with you."

"What?" Dean asked as he walked over and touched Sam's face and pushed his hair back gently. "Hey Sammy," his voice was soft.

"As you know Sam normally is fed by the staff and until the last couple days we haven't had problems, but he's recently decided to refuse the hand feeding."

"Okay," Dean now turned his eyes to the doctor. "Does he want to do it himself?" He felt a little excited at the prospect. His little brother had been so withdrawn that he didn't even feed himself, but would chew and swallow if fed. He could be coaxed from one room to another led like a child, but he never acknowledged anyone, not really. Sammy wasn't here anymore and that made Dean ache.

"No," the Dr. Winters began. "Sam still remains in his profound disassociated type of atypical catatonia. I want to discuss the possible use of a nasal feeding tube should he continue to resist feeding."

"He pulls out his IV's," Dean started. "What makes you think he's not going to yank this too?"

"That was in the beginning, Dean. He hasn't had any real problems with the IV port since. And, the nasal tube shouldn't pose a problem. But, I'll need your consent for the feeding tube should it become necessary. And, should we have to use an NG tube it can be easily removed should he start accepting the hand feeding again. It's not permanent."

"Can I try to get him to eat before I sign the consent paper?"

"Sure, I'll have Maggie bring in some apple sauce and we'll try that."

"Okay, but none of that chunky brand," Dean replied. "Sam doesn't like the apple chunks." The doctor smiled.

"Smooth it is. I'll be back in a moment." Dean glanced at the doctor and nodded.

"I'll be with my brother." Dr. Winters nodded. Dean turned his eyes back to his sibling. Sam's chestnut bangs hung low and Dean found his hand trying to tame the disheveled mop of hair on his kid brother. "So, what's this I hear about you not wanting to eat kiddo?" Dean's tone remained light as he touched Sam's cheek. "You don't want a feeding tube Sammy," Dean spoke gently. "So you gotta eat, okay?"

Sam wandered around an empty house. He had woken up there and couldn't remember how or why he was there. The windows and doors to the outside wouldn't open and he had stopped trying. There was no furniture at first, but it seemed the longer he stayed and wandered around that each day something would appear. He never questioned why or how. The first object had been a single chair and now he had a bed, chair, table and a book, but the pages were all blank. He liked flipping the pages and feeling them under his fingers. There was a distant feeling that kindled in him, as if this was a familiar habit of his, but he couldn't remember. He found himself looking out the windows and there was only a dark wasteland that he could see. But, in the distance he could almost make out a dim light from a distant horizon. He felt like the light wasn't far away if he could only reach it, and sometimes he heard a voice and it called him Sammy. He wasn't sure who he was or where he was, but there was something safe and warm in that one word. The voice was and wasn't familiar, but he found himself drawn to it when he heard it and it shed light into the darkness outside his windows.

"Come on Sammy try," Dean coaxed as he lifted the spoon with applesauce to his brother's mouth trying to gain access. Sam would open sometimes, but push the applesauce back out refusing to swallow. Dean dabbed a moist washcloth under his little brother's chin to clean the food away as it spilled over his lips and down his chin. "Please, Sammy," Dean's voice pleaded. "Just a spoonful, okay? We'll start small."

Please Sammy … just a spoonful …

There was that voice again and that word Sammy and the voice wanted him to do something. His hand absently went to his lips brushing away a ghosting presence at his mouth, but there was nothing there.

"Please, Sammy," Dean encouraged. "Try. You need to eat."

Please Sammy …you need to eat …

And there was that voice again and some part of him registered that the presence at his mouth meant something and he complied. There was a cool sweetness in his mouth and he swallowed. "That's my boy," Dean cooed. "Let's try another Sammy. You can do it. Let's try to finish this cup, okay." And, Sam complied.

"Well, you definitely have a way with him," Dr. Winters replied. "It looks like we may be able to hold off on the feeding tube. You think you can get some more food into him?" Dean smiled.

"Yeah, what do you have?"

"Well, maybe solids aren't safe yet. He could choke if he resists swallowing at the last second. We'll stick with soft foods. How about some chicken broth soup and we'll try a few small crackers soaked in the soup?"

"Sounds good." Dean replied.

Three Hours Later

Dean had walked Sam back to his room and sat with him. He had washed Sam's hair, combed and dried it. "I really think you need a haircut Sammy," Dean suggested. "But, I know you'd kick my ass," he offered with a bit of humor. "You did real good Sammy with your lunch, so you better not give Kendra a hard time with your dinner okay?" Dean studied his brother's expressionless face. He missed his brother's soulful eyes. They always spoke volumes to him. And, now they were blank and he didn't see his brother there anymore. "I'm not gonna give up on you Sammy," Dean spoke firmly, but with affection. "You're going to find your way back. Sammy? It's Dean, your big brother, you hear me? I'm not going to give up on you … never."

Sammy …find your way back … It's Dean …your big brother…you hear me?

Words filtered into Sam's world, but still they had no real context and the light was still so very far away. His mind would drift and he'd forget again, but that voice and the word Sammy always helped him to focus at least for a little while. Big Brother, part of him knew those two words meant something important and the word Dean, it made him feel warm and safe just like Sammy did, but the light was fading in the distance as it always did and soon he'd be in the dark again.

"I gotta go now Sammy," Dean replied softly. He pushed his brother's bangs back and kissed his little brother on the top of his head. "I'll visit again tomorrow afternoon, okay? I hate to leave you, but I have too. I'll see you tomorrow, I promise. "Night Sammy, bye."

Gotta go now Sammy …'Night Sammy, bye…

And, then the light was gone once again.

To Be Continued

Well, let me know what you think. Again, I'm not sure how long this chapter story will end up being, but I'll just have to see how it goes.

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