AN Thanks for all the great reviews guys, I really appreciate them. This is chapter two and I hope you enjoy it. Huge thanks to my wonderful beta Kaly for cleaning this up and Spellbound for the great prompt. Enjoy!

The flames licked at the walls and the ceiling as they surrounded her prone form- her eyes were staring, wide and glazed, lips parted in a silent O.

The heat was crushing and blistering as Sam laid there, body frozen to the bed as he stared up in horror, barely daring to believe what he was seeing. The fire fed hungrily off the drapes, the furniture consumed in flames as he yelled her name, his throat feeling like it would tear.

"Why, Sam?" she whispered, her soft voice tickling his ear over the roar of the fire. It felt like his skin was melting as he lay there helplessly as tears dripped from her accusing eyes.

There was another roar and the fire consumed the entire ceiling, blasting out towards his face in a fiery wall until…

Sam's eyes snapped open as he lay there gasping for air, his chest heaving with exertion as he shakily propped himself up on his elbows. His hair was plastered to his forehead with sweat, and he could feel himself trembling under the thin comforter.

His eyes darted quickly across the room, until they found Dean and he felt his breathing slow. Dean was asleep, gentle snores filling the small room. The crimson digits on the clock, sitting on the nightstand glared through the darkness.

4:26 am.

He sighed raggedly and leant his head against the wall, closing his eyes and breathing out through his nose. There was no way he was going to get any more sleep tonight.

He needed to do something; he needed something to stop him from thinking. Eyeing the remote on the nightstand Sam picked it up, his hands still shaking slightly, and turned on the TV. He quickly turned the volume down and began flicking through the channels mercilessly, barely pausing on a channel for more than a second.

The room was bathed in the bluish glow of the TV set and Sam stopped on a tele-shopping channel with a resigned sigh. He didn't know if he could do this.

He already felt like he was falling apart, and he'd barely begun to process what had actually happened. He couldn't wrap his head around the fact that Jess was actually gone.

He didn't want to.

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Dean groaned as he opened his eyes. Sunlight spilled through the crack in the curtains bathing the room in golden light and he squinted, throwing a hand over his face and lying back against his pillows.

Everything came flooding back to him. The hunt, Sam, Jess, the fire. He swallowed hard and let out a sigh. Sam.

He glanced across at his brother's bed and felt his chest tighten. It was empty. The bed was made with the freakish neatness that belonged to his brother. Dean sat up, throwing the comforter off himself and walked over to the open bathroom door.

He peered inside, heart hammering in the hope that he would find his brother washing his face at the sink, or cleaning his teeth. The bathroom was empty.

His chest tightened painfully once more and all the moisture seemed to vanish from his mouth. Looking around the room Dean found no trace of a note, and Sam didn't bring anything with him, so Dean couldn't tell if he'd left it behind as a sign he was coming back.

This wasn't like the brother he knew. What if Sam had done something stupid? Dean quickly picked up his discarded jeans and stepped into them, reaching for his jacket with shaking hands.

Dean reached for his cell, about to call his brother when he heard the jingle of the keys in the door. Striding across the room, blood rushing in his ears, Dean yanked the door open and came face to face with his brother.

"Sam!" he said, breathlessly failing to mask the relief in his voice as Sam frowned at him, taking in his brother's disheveled appearance.

"Where have you been? I woke up and your bed was empty," Dean said, voice gruff as Sam stepped into the room and shut the door behind him.

Sam held up a steaming coffee and handed it to Dean.

"I just went to get some coffee. I was up early and figured you'd want some," he replied, setting his keys down on the table. Dean eyed his brother critically. He could tell by the purpling rings under his brother's eyes that he hadn't slept and looking down Dean saw he was wearing one of his shirts. Sam followed his brother's gaze down to his shirt and then looked up.

"Sorry, I, uh, borrowed a shirt," Sam said, and Dean nodded.

"Well I think we should go out and get you some clothes today Sammy 'cause the whole tight t-shirt thing… makes you look like even more of a fruitcake," Dean said through his coffee cup, and was rewarded by a small smile from Sam.

"Um, I was thinking that… I… I want to go to the apartment," Sam said quietly, and Dean raised an eyebrow. Putting down his coffee cup, he watched his brother. He hated seeing Sam like this- a lost, haunted look in his eyes.

"Sammy? Are you sure about this? I mean…" He began, but Sam cut him off, rising to his feet.

"Dean, I need to find the thing that killed Jess! I need to look around, look to see if there's anything that will give me a clue or something." Sam paced back and forth nervously, raking his fingers through his hair in short, jerky movements. Dean couldn't help thinking that it was as if too many thoughts - too many emotions - were all struggling to escape from Sam all at once, but none would come.

Dean held out a hand to calm his brother, looking up at him.

"Hey, it's okay. We'll get some supplies, clothes and such and then we'll go to the apartment, okay?" Dean asked softly, and Sam nodded jerkily. He watched as Sam went to sit down on the end of the bed and he shoved his hands in his pockets. He didn't know what to do. He didn't know what to do or say to stop his brother hurting, and he was terrified that he wasn't enough.

"I'm gonna have a shower, I'll get dressed and then we'll go," Dean said, for some reason feeling the need to tell Sam exactly what he was doing, speaking as if to a skittish animal, moving slowly and cautiously so it wouldn't bolt.

Sam nodded again, and Dean moved towards the bathroom, reluctant to let his brother out of his sight but he needed to shower. He was starting to smell like some of the things they hunted.

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Sam watched Dean disappear into the bathroom, and as the door shut with a click he let out a sigh and seemed to visibly deflate. His shoulders sagged, his spine curved and he leant forward, cradling his aching head in his hands.

It must be because he hadn't slept.

He knew Dean meant well and he knew that his brother was worried, but the whole mother-hen thing was too weird for him. He just needed Dean to be there, to be himself, to distract him from the thoughts that were tearing him apart piece by piece.

He should have left a note, but he had needed to get out of the room. It was suffocating him. He'd sat there- awake for hours just staring at the TV set, trying to think about anything other than Jess. His eyes had itched and his aching body had yearned for sleep, but he couldn't face closing his eyes and seeing her face, seeing her burn.

The sun had risen, and with it, his desire for revenge had re-awakened. He needed to feel something other than emptiness so the fire of revenge and anger had ignited something to push the other thoughts out of his head. He was going to find Jessica's killer. He was going to find their Dad.

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They'd spent 45 minutes buying Sam clothes with a stolen credit card, Dean cracking jokes in an effort to at least get Sam to smile, but Sam had just walked around the store listlessly, throwing items into the basket. Any smile that Dean had managed to illicit was strained and didn't reach Sam's eyes.

Dean didn't know how much more he could take. The silence, the jokes that fell flat, the awkward, jerky conversation - it wasn't something he was used to experiencing with his brother.

Dean's stomach gurgled loudly and he spotted a roadside diner up ahead.

"You want to grab some lunch?" Dean asked, looking briefly across at his brother who merely shrugged in response. Dean took that as a yes and turned in to the small, rather run-down diner's parking lot.

Killing the engine, he stepped out the car and Sam followed suit. The doors slammed shut in unison as they made their way over to the diner. The bell jingled cheerfully as they entered, and Dean found them a booth.

--o—

Sam watched as Dean perused the menu before looking down at his own. The mere thought of eating anything made his stomach roll and lurch. Reading the various combinations of grease and fries made him grimace. He really wasn't hungry.

As each second ticked past, it was another second closer to them going to the apartment. He didn't know if he was making the right decision, going there. He didn't know if he was ready to face it.

The peroxide blonde waitress- who was in her mid forties and dressed like she was in her twenties- walked over to their table. Her heels clacking, she was smacking her gum and holding a steaming pot of coffee.

"What can I get you gentlemen?" She asked her voice holding a distinct edge of flirtation as she smiled at Dean appreciatively. Dean's eyes widened and he seemed to pale slightly, causing Sam to snort, quickly disguising it as a cough.

"I uh… I'll have the deluxe burger with fries, oh, and extra onions," Dean said, avoiding the woman's eyes.

She turned to Sam.

"And what about you honey?" she asked silkily, and Sam cleared his throat.

"I'll just have a coffee please," Sam replied and she scribbled it down, pouring them both a cup and walking off.

Sam could feel his brother's gaze weighing heavily on him, and he knew exactly what Dean was going to say. "Sam you need to eat something." Dean said, frowning at his brother, and Sam sighed heavily.

"I'm not hungry Dean, I know it might be a foreign concept to you, not needing to eat all the time," he replied, a hint of exasperation creeping into his voice. He could see the rebuttal already forming on his brother's lips before he heard it.

"Sam you didn't eat yesterday and…"

"I'm not hungry!" Sam snapped, a little more forcefully than he intended, judging by the slightly hurt look on his brother's face which vanished instantly, the Dean Winchester mask sliding back in place.

"Fine," Dean said shortly, turning back to his coffee cup. Sam swallowed guiltily. He hadn't meant to snap at his brother. He knew Dean was only trying to help, but everything was out of control and he was so on edge that he couldn't help snapping.

"Sorry I just…" Sam began to mumble, trailing off as Dean looked up and offered a wan smile.

"I know."

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It wasn't a long drive from the diner to Sam's apartment, but it felt like a lifetime. To Sam it felt like the road was never-ending, stretching out into infinity and each second was a decade.

His heart was in his throat, and each breath felt like a trial. He didn't want to go. He wanted to back out, tell Dean to turn around and just keeping driving until he forgot about Stanford, forgot about Jess, and could sink back into blissful ignorance.

Maybe he'd made a mistake. By going to Stanford he'd made himself believe that he could have that which he had always lusted after. Normal. He'd settled down, made a life for himself. He'd had a group of friends and a girlfriend and everything he'd ever wanted, but he had been kidding himself the whole time.

How could he have thought he'd ever have that? His true self, the hunter, the supernatural had just been waiting. It had just been biding its time, letting Sam lull himself into a false sense of security before rearing its ugly head again. He'd dragged Jess into the mess, he'd gotten her killed. He'd never be anything but a freak.

He swallowed with difficulty, a large, painful lump taking residence in his throat. He knew he had to do this. He had to find the thing that killed her. The thing that killed his mother.

It wasn't until now that he understood his father- his desire for revenge, for the truth. He knew he'd never see completely eye to eye with his father, especially after their fight before Stanford, but it felt like he now had a slice of understanding, a look into a misunderstood part of his father's life.

He felt his phone vibrate in his pocket, but he ignored it, just like he had been ignoring the calls all morning. He couldn't speak to people, he couldn't answer their questions, tell them about last night.

The car pulled onto the familiar street, and Sam felt his breath leave him as he stared at the blackened, burnt out building. Police tape wound its way around the front of the house and a few officials were still milling around, taking notes and conversing.

Part of the roof was gone, and chunks of the front wall had been blasted away, exposing the inside of the apartment. Sam's mouth felt like sandpaper and he felt like being sick again.

"Are you sure about this?" Dean asked, making Sam jump. Sam looked across at his brother and nodded. If he opened his mouth, he was sure he wouldn't be able to stop a 'no' from tumbling out.

Sam shakily reached for the car door and opened it. He stepped out and shut the door, trying not to look at the building as much as possible. Students were milling about, stopping to look at the wreckage and whispering.

As Sam drew closer, he was aware of Dean's silent presence at his side and was grateful he was there.

"Excuse me, it's restricted access sir," an official said as Sam neared the door.

"I uh… I live here," he said quietly, and the official paused.

"Oh, sorry. I don't know if I can let you up there, it's unstable," he said, somewhat apologetically.

"Please, I just… I need to see it," Sam said, cursing the slight waver in his voice. The man studied him for a few seconds before sighing.

"Okay, but don't go near the taped off areas, and don't be too long," he warned, and Sam forced a grateful smile as he walked past with Dean. He climbed the stairs, his heart still pounding in his chest as they drew closer.

The smell of smoke and ash hung thickly in the air, clogging his lungs. The walls along the hallway were slightly scorched, but otherwise unharmed. They approached the entrance to the apartment. The door was gone and he could see into the room.

He stepped in, his feet crunching over broken glass and debris as he looked around the place he had called home for the last two years. The walls were blackened and crumbling in places, the windows had been completely blown out, and the cold breeze blew straight through.

Sam could feel himself shaking as he looked around at the wreckage. Everything was destroyed. He heard Dean moving around behind him, but he might as well not have been there. He felt completely alone.

His foot crunched on something and he looked down.

His eyes burned as he saw the photo frame. The glass was cracked and charred but beneath it the photo was still intact. It had been taken last summer. Jess was smiling happily, her golden hair spilling around her shoulders and her eyes were sparkling. Sam's arms were wrapped around her from behind, and his chin was resting on her shoulder.

He tried to blink away the burning in his eyes, but it just seemed to intensify. He slipped the photo from underneath the glass and put it into his pocket, glad that Dean wasn't looking at him.

He willed himself forward into the bedroom, despite the hammering of his heart and the trembling of his hands. He had to do this.

The bed where he had lay had been completely incinerated, the room was a burnt out shell. The ceiling was gone, and Sam was glad he wouldn't have to look at it and remember her face. He saw his laptop on the floor, burnt and twisted into a mess. Jess had bought him that for his birthday.

The lump in his throat was becoming unbearable.

He could see the remains of the kitchen in the next room, and he was reminded of the way Jess used to sing when she cooked. She'd loved to bake, baking things all the time.

He remembered the plate of cookies on the table, and the burning in his eyes seemed to start up again.

He wasn't going to find anything here. There was nothing left. All he had left to remember her by was a photo.

He couldn't do this by himself. He had to find Dad- he'd know what to do.

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Dean watched Sam look around the burn out apartment and sighed. Pain was rolling of Sam in waves and there was nothing he could do about it. He thought this had been a bad idea, and the look on his brother's face proved him right.

The place was a wreck, there was nothing recognizable other than a few pieces of furniture that had managed to stay standing and a melted TV set. He watched Sam looking sadly down at a mangled laptop and sighed. Still a geek at heart.

There was nothing here that could help them and Dean didn't like being here, it just reminded him how close he had come to losing his brother. If he hadn't checked his watch, if he hadn't turned around, Sam probably would have died in here. He would have gotten a call from the police and then he would have been left completely alone.

"Sammy?" he called out softly, not wanting to startle his brother. When Sam looked up, his face was pale and his brown eyes were shining.

"You ready?" he asked, waiting as Sam looked around and nodded mutely, head down as he walked back towards Dean.

They walked out together in silence. Dean saw the wetness in his brother's eyes and looked away, knowing it would make Sam uncomfortable if he saw or said anything.

He didn't know what to say, so he'd just be there and he'd hope that would be enough.

AN Hope you enjoyed it and please tell me what you think! Drama coming up :D so stick with this