Disclaimer: I don't own anything Supernatural or whatnot, it is all property of the CW11 network and the Kripke. So don't sue and please don't be offended by the language cause it's gonna be colorful to say the least.


Chapter 14

Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven was emanating from the speakers of the black 1967 Chevy Impala as the muscle car cruised over the smooth highway road. The song may have been a mellow all time classic, but is could do nothing to ease the tension and negative energy that surrounded the Impala's three occupants. From where he sat behind the wheel, John Winchester discreetly took a glance at his two sons. Dean sat beside him in the front passenger seat, the seventeen year old's face was pale a drawn as he stared straight ahead through the windshield at the passing scenery. John looked up at the rear view mirror to see his other son, who sat in the back seat. Sam Winchester sat with his head slightly bowed and his once vibrant eyes downcast. His face was pale and devoid of expression. The thirteen year old's mouth was a thin line between slightly colorless lips. Sam and Dean were the very picture of dejection. John felt his heart crumble a little at seeing his usually vibrant boys so unhappy.

He knew that he was to blame for all of this.

It had been a week since they had left Pastor Jim Murphy's place back in Blue Earth, Minnesota. Now the Winchesters were on their way to a small town in North Dakota to start up yet another temporary life, and take up any hunts that came their way.

Even though there was a hunt looming fast on the horizon, for once it did not dominate John Winchester's mind. What was paramount in his mind was Sam. More specifically, Sam's words from a week ago, back at Pastor Jim's place. His youngest son's words of deep anger and hurt had been like a cold hard slap to John's face. They had served to show the oldest Winchester just how badly he had screwed up in regards to his youngest son's feelings. Not a second went by that John didn't remember the words Sam had said and how the boy had looked as he had said them. The words had been like steel javelins right to the heart. His boy had sure let him have it. Worse still, John knew that Sam had not yet forgiven him. This past week Sam had hardly said a word, save for the occasional "yes sir" or "no sir". The teenager hardly even looked at his father. Obviously, Sam was still hurt and very angry, like he had ever right to be after all the crap his family had dumped on him. As he sat behind the wheel, John couldn't help but wonder if his baby boy would ever forgive him for his transgressions. In his heart, John wasn't sure at all.

If John Winchester was having a hard time with the situation his family was in, Dean was even worse off. To put is simply, Dean Winchester felt like he was in some form of Hell itself. Sam used to come to Dean for anything and everything, now the younger brother had effectively shut his older sibling out after everything that had happened at Pastor Jim's. Despite Dean's numerous attempts, Sam outright refused to talk to him or even meet his eyes. Sure, Sam wouldn't outright leave the room whenever Dean was there, but he didn't really acknowledge his older brother either. Hours would pass by with Dean trying to get even the smallest conversation going and Sam simply sitting there silent as a graveyard. Try as Dean might, Sam just ignored him.

Dean knew that he could blame no one but himself for the way Sam was now treating him. With how badly he had treated Sam first, Dean knew that he was getting a harsh taste of his own medicine. He had ignored Sam first, now Sam was ignoring him. Dean knew that Sam hadn't forgiven him. In fact, Dean was quite sure that Sam hadn't begun to even think about forgiving him or their dad. As he sat riding shotgun, Dean felt the backs of his eyes start to burn with the threat of fresh tears. He stubbornly blinked them back and kept up the facade of composure as his heart crumbled yet again.

He just wanted his little brother, his best friend, to come back to him. But right now, all Dean Winchester had was this cold stranger, who he had helped to create, sitting behind him in the back seat. From where he sat behind the wheel, John Winchester felt the same way, he wanted his vibrant and strong willed son back, not the silently angry and frigid individual he was living with now.

John silently hoped that maybe working together as a unit on this hunt would somehow thaw the ice that was surrounding the three of them. The oldest Winchester allowed himself to hope that a thaw was possible, but in the back of his mind he couldn't help but have his doubts about going into any possible hunts with Sam being so angry and distant towards them. Whether it was a good idea or not, it was too late to back out now because they were more than halfway to the town itself.

With a small sigh, John kept on driving. Beside John, Dean kept taking fleeting glances over his shoulder at his baby brother, and Sam simply ignored his brother and his father. Led Zeppelin kept playing on the radio, but that was just about the only sound that filled the interior of the Impala.

Two hours later...

The Impala pulled into the quiet North Dakota town with a low rumble. From where he sat in the back seat, Sam silently looked out the windows and took in the place. It was pretty much a cookie-cutter version of just about every other town they had stayed in. There were a few motels here and there, a grocery store, and gas station, and regular people going about their daily lives. It was the picture of a normal town.

For some reason, this made Sam's heart both lurch painfully, and also fill with a quiet anger. It pained him that he could never be like any of the people who passed by the Impala's windows as the car drove bar. At the same time, it enraged him to no end. These were the kind of strangers his father and brother were willing to lay their lives down to protect. Sam knew that these were the kind of strangers that his father always valued more than him. As he sat there in the back of the Impala, Sam couldn't help but feel a deep revulsion fill him as his mind replayed over and over the many times his father and Dean had always berated him for not wanting to hunt, for not wanting to save people like those who lived in this new town they had arrived in.

Like he had told his father, Sam couldn't bring himself to care even in the least about these people. It may have been irrational, but Sam couldn't help but feel like these unknown people in this North Dakota town, and the many strangers from all of the other towns and cities they had lived in, were the ones who had stolen his father and his brother from him. Like he had told his father in the Church, John could go on saving as many of these strangers as he wanted, but Sam didn't give a damn what so ever. Sam had vowed that the only reason he was even hunting still was for vengeance against the thing that had robbed him of his mother at six months old, and because he did want to keep killing anything and everything that other people only had nightmares about.

As he sat in the back seat of the Impala, Sam Winchester quietly contemplated on what his life was, and what it had now become.

The Winchesters drover through the town, the Impala weaving through the neighborhoods till it finally pulled up in front of a small one-story house that looked as though it had seen better days. A few shingles were missing, and the once white plaster house-face was now a dull gray, with weeds and vines all over the place.

This was the typical dwelling for the Winchesters.

" Home sweet home." Thought Sam bitterly before he quickly exited the Impala.

As he made his way to the trunk, Dean silently joined him and opened the trunk before Sam could reach for it. Sam stayed silent as a grave as Dean reached in and pulled out his younger brother's duffel bag and held it out to the younger boy.

Sam didn't have to meet Dean's eyes to know that there was pain and yearning within those familiar emerald depths.

" Thanks Dean." Said Sam monotonously before he quickly grabbed his duffel bag from his older brother and walked off towards the house.

" No problem little brother." Said Dean softly from somewhere behind Sam as the latter continued to walk away.

Had he looked back, Sam would've seen Dean's face first fill with hopefulness at Sam having spoken to him for the first time since they had left Pastor Jim's, then fill with a bone-deep sadness while he watched Sam walk away without any further words.

Sam walked right past John, not even sparing his father the slightest glance as he made his way up the cracked concrete steps of their new home.

From where he stood by the open driver's side door of the Impala, John felt his eyes burn with an all too familiar sting as he watched his youngest ascend the front steps. For all his knowledge and training, for the life of him, John had no idea where to begin to earn his youngest child's forgiveness, of even if he could after all that had happened.

John looked away from Sam to gaze at Dean, and he felt his heart break all over again as he eyed the quiet misery that painted his oldest boy's face.

By God, what had he done to both of his children?

John took in a deep, steadying breath and battled back the despair that had been threatening to drown him for many days now. Gruffly clearing his throat, John fished out the keys to the house and tossed them to Dean and spoke.

" You and Sam get yourselves settled while I take care of a few things in town." Said John, trying to sound as normal as possible as he gazed at Dean.

Dean nodded mutely and picked up his duffel bag from the trunk before shutting it with a dull thud. With a lingering look at his father, Dean headed off up the front stairs to the front door, where Sam was silently waiting.

With is eyes taking several fleeting glances at his brother, Dean dutifully opened the front door. Sam walked inside the house without looking at Dean the moment the door was open. Dean let out a shaky sigh and followed after Sam in quiet dejection, closing the door behind him.

Once he saw that his boys were inside the house, John quickly climbed back behind the wheel of the Impala and speed off with a low roar. He would go into town to take care of the necessary things like getting his temporary job in order and enrolling the boys in the local school. John wanted nothing more than to find a bar and try to drown his sorrows in some strong whiskey, but he thought better of it. He would just go to some quiet place so he could try to think as to what he should do about the horrible state his family was now in. He knew he had no one to blame but himself.

Inside the slightly run down house, Dean watched sadly as Sam disappeared up the steps to the second floor. Feeling utterly dejected, Dean followed after his little brother up to the second level and down the hall to the room they would be sharing. When he walked into the room, he found Sam had already claimed his queen-sized bed and was already unpacking his things. Feeling completely out of his depth, Dean made his way over to the remaining bed and began to unpack his own bags.

The silence was deeply unnerving to Dean. Where Sammy was usually a constant source of conversation no matter what they were doing, now there was only silence and a coldness Dean could almost literally feel.

The brothers unpacked their belongings in total silence until Dean couldn't take it anymore. Dean stepped around his bed and came to stand behind Sam. The older boy reached out and firmly gripped his younger brother by the shoulder. Dean felt a twinge in his heart when he felt Sam immediately go rigid beneath his hand.

" What do you want Dean?" Asked Sam flatly without turning around to look at Dean.

" I think it's pretty obvious Sam." Said Dean before he used force to physically turn Sam around so that they were facing one another.

Blank moss green eyes stared back at Dean, cold and devoid of the warmth that should have been there.

" Sammy please, just talk to me, tell me what I can do to make it up to you, please." Said Dean as he reached out and gripped Sam remaining shoulder.

Sam was completely silent for what seemed like an eternity before he finally looked Dean square in the eye and spoke.

" Can you give me back the part of me that died when I pulled the trigger and blew that black dog's head off? Can you give me back my soul Dean?" He asked softly.

Dean gasped and his eyes grew to the size of dinner plates as Sam's words washed over him.

" S-Sammy I-" Dean began to say when Sam cut him of.

" My name is Sam God-damn it. Sammy is dead Dean, he died that night with the black dog. And besides, you and Dad never wanted 'Sammy'. Dad always wanted another soldier just like the perfect one he already had, and you just wanted someone who wouldn't annoy the crap outta you anymore. You both got your wishes now, cause I'm never gonna be the person I was ever again." He said with such a cold and detached manner that Dean actually felt terror starting to grip his heart.

" That's not true Sammy, that can't be true." Said Dean as he vehemently shook his head and tightened his grip on Sam's shoulders.

" But it is the truth Dean." Said Sam with sadness finally showing through the icy depths of his green eyes.

" No... No I won't accept this... I can't accept this. You're still Sammy. You hear me? You're still Sammy." Insisted Dean with his voice cracking and his eyes rapidly welling with tears.

With a tiny sob, Dean yanked Sam to him into a crushing embrace.

Sam felt his own broken heart lurch painfully inside his chest as his big brother hugged him so tightly that it hurt to breath. The boy wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms around his older brother and give in to the grief and despair that was consuming him like a cancer, but he didn't, he let his arms hang limply at his sides and stared blanking at the wall that was ahead of him as he spoke.

" I remember... You held me like this after we got home that night. You thought I was already asleep and you climbed into bed with me, and you held me like this. I was wide awake Dean, and I wanted to shove you off of me, I didn't want you anywhere near me." He said softly.

Sam felt Dean freeze against him and breath hitched, but instead of letting go, Dean only tightened his hold around Sam further.

" But you didn't shove me away Sammy, you didn't." Whispered Dean against Sam's neck.

" I wanted to, very badly. It didn't feel good when you held me that night, it didn't feel good when Dad hugged me after the hunt, and it doesn't feel good right now." Said Sam stiffly.

Feeling like someone was tearing everything inside him apart, Dean steeled his resolve and spoke what were some of the hardest words he felt he had ever had to say.

" What... What does it feel like for you Sammy?" He asked with great difficulty.

" It feels like there are hot needles poking at my skin, like I have ants crawling under my skin, and it make something inside me feel like it's breaking all over again." Said Sam softly.

Dean screwed his eyes tightly shut and staved off the urge to start sobbing uncontrollably because he understood what Sam was saying.

That for him, being touched either his dad or his brother made his flesh crawl. Sam was so repulsed by his father and brother, that he could barely tolerate their touch.

" Oh God. Sammy, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, God I'm so sorry." Whispered Dean over and over again to Sam.

Sam felt his own eyes starting to burn with despair, but he stubbornly kept the tears back and just stood there in Dean's arms.

There was an innumerable amount of time passed in almost total silence after that, save for a few hitched breaths from Dean. Then, Dean swallowed thickly and spoke.

" Sammy, even though it kills me to hear you say that, I want you to know that it's okay for you to feel this way. I know I deserve this, to feel what I'm feeling right now. God, it hurts so bad, but I deserve every bit of it for what I did to you. But Sammy, I want you to know that I'm gonna fix this, I am gonna fix this, and I don't care how long it takes because you did not loose your soul out there, you didn't die. The person I know you to be is in there somewhere, and I'm gonna find him. I swear it Sammy, I'm not gonna let this be the end. I love too damn much, Dad loves you too damn much for this to be how it's gonna be." Breathed Dean.

Sam almost broke down right then and there, but he kept himself from falling apart through the use of sheer will alone as he spoke.

" I love you guys too, but I don't know if that will be enough to ever fix what's wrong Dean. Now please... Please let go of me." He said softly, his body wanting Dean to release him, while his battered heart wanted him to stay in those iron-like arms for just a few moments longer.

Dean gave Sam one more tight squeeze before with agonizing slowness, he forced himself to let go of his younger brother. But before he let go completely, Dean leaned in and pressed his forehead to Sam's and spoke.

" I'm gonna fix this Sammy, somehow someway, I'll fix this I promise."

" Dean, I know you almost always keep your promises, but I don't know if this is one promise even you can keep. My faith in you and Dad took a really hard hit, I don't even know if there is anything left of it even." Said Sam just as softly.

" Well then, I'm banking on some of it still being there then, that me and Dad's stupid ways didn't kill it all." Said Dean with new found resolve clear in his voice as he drew away and gazed at Sam with tearful but determined eyes.

After that, Dean turned and walked out of the room, telling Sam that he was going downstairs to make them something to eat. In actuality, Dean made a detour to the bathroom first where he allowed himself to silently fall apart from the powerful and painful words Sam had spoken to him.

Back inside the room, Sam sank down on the foot of his bed and looked down at his hands. They were pale and lightly trembling. As he sat there alone in the silence, Sam couldn't help but feel the barest spark of hope flare up inside his cracked and dented heart. It was the faint hope that maybe, just maybe Dean would make good on his promise.

Maybe, just maybe, Dean would be able to fix that which seemed to be broken beyond repair.

But it was a faint hope, one that could easily be extinguished with even the slightest miss-step.