He had been unable to break the deal, but he had marched himself down into the fiery pits of hell and retrieved his brother and brought him back to the land of the living like a hero of a Greek myth. He had Dean back. Everything was okay. All that mattered was that Dean was alive and with him hunting down those evil sons of bitches. It had to be okay. But it wasn't. Dean wasn't.
When he first got his brother back, Dean had been quiet and sullen. His eyes had taken on a haunted quality that frightened Sam. He would talk to his brother, and he got the distinct impression that while Dean understood on a basic level, what he was saying, Dean wasn't exactly inside. He seemed empty. But Sam was willing to let that go, Dean was by his side, that was what mattered, nothing else. They still fought side by side in the same sync they always had but the passion was gone. The emotion was gone. The personality was gone. The shell of the man was there but there was nothing inside any longer.
Weeks and months passed. Now, Dean not only was different on the inside, he was markedly different on the outside. It took everything Sam had to make Dean trim the full beard he had grown. He had only managed that because he said that it would scare away the people that they were trying to help and that seemed to strike a chord within his brother. Honestly, Sam was surprised that that had even worked.
In addition to a full beard his hair had grown out and was now brushing his shoulders, and he refused to get it cut in his typical military style. For as long as Sam could remember, his brother had always had really short hair, he had teased Sam relentlessly as he grew up that he had girl hair, because he had preferred his hair longer than his brother's. When he was young he had wondered what Dean would have thought if he had let his hair to grow out to the point of being able to pull it back. He probably would have called him a sissy or a girl or something lame like that, and right now, he wished that Dean would make fun of his hair or his height, or the way he took his coffee or anything else. But his brother didn't tease anymore, he just sat in the motel room, listened to Sam give out information about the case, ask simple questions for clarification, clean the guns, and go to sleep.
Sleep was another thing that had changed. Before, Dean always slept soundly, now he didn't. He slept so light that a tree branch tapping against the window woke him, had him sitting straight up, his knife in his hands, and his eyes frantically looking around trying to locate the source of the disturbance. What was worse was that Dean slept with blanket after blanket piled on top of him, he would wear sweat pants and sweat shirt to bed, it didn't matter what time of year anymore, he was constantly cold. As if his short stint in hell had sucked his natural body heat out of him and forced him to seek heat, as if hell was trying to beckon him back.
This particular time when his brother awoke because of the tree Sam sat up too.
"Dean?" he said softly. His brother jerked in his direction, knife catching the moonlight.
"Sam." His voice was devoid of anything, like usual.
"Dean there isn't anything outside."
"There isn't." Sam looked at his brother's profile, long hair obscuring it. "Dean you're safe."
"Never be safe Sammy." Sammy. He called him Sammy for the first time since he came back. His voice also held emotion, fear, and sadness, those were not the two emotions he wanted to hear. He got up and went to his brother's bed and sat down and faced him. Took the knife out of his hands and set it aside on the bed. He forced his brother's bearded face up and forced him to look him in the eye and saw his brother's green eyes bright with tears.
"Dean, you'll always be safe with me."
"No, never safe again Sammy. Never." He pulled his face out of his brother's hands, took the knife and lay back down. Sam didn't know what to do. He needed his big brother's help. But he wasn't here anymore. He thought he had brought him back from the depths of hell, but he had only brought the shell of the man he once knew back. Dean was lost. Possibly forever.