After Bobby and Missouri left, Sam and Dean felt uncomfortable in their own skins around each other. It seemed crash down around Dean's ears just exactly what Sam had done for him while he had been out of sorts. Sure Sam had watched him and studied him most of his life, he knew that, but his little brother had never had to take care of him. Dean never let anyone take care of him. He had decided at age four that he was old enough to take care of not only himself but his baby brother, it seemed wrong now that at age thirty, Dean had needed his twenty-six year old brother to do everything from feed him to wipe his ass. It seemed to go against the natural order of things, especially Dean's perception of order. It was one more thing that he cursed the demons for. They had taken their mother, father and part of Dean's dignity and all of that was unacceptable. So, in an effort to right the wrong Dean pushed away from Sam, tried to compose himself again and make things okay in his head. But what he hadn't counted on was Sam.

Sam had always been predictable. Dean shuts down, Sam gets puppy dog look and asks once a day what is wrong until Dean spills because he is tired of being asked. As a matter of fact, Sam was usually the only person who could get Dean to talk about his feelings, engage him in a chick flick moment or even let down his guard. But this time, Sam didn't push or prod. He simply left Dean alone, he didn't poke and prod like he would have before Dean's trip to hell, but he most certainly didn't give Dean any more physical space than he usually did. He made Dean look at him every single day, made him see the worry and patience. That was what Dean needed. Sam had learned a lot in the time he spent in his brother's mind and he knew that he had to let Dean figure out his new place in the world.

And one night when they were sitting down to a warm supper, cooked on the stove, and with cold pop from the refrigerator Dean began to talk.

"They aren't kidding when they call it hell Sammy." Sam stopped with his fork midway to his mouth.

"You wanna talk about it?"

"Fire isn't exactly what hell is. You know. it is more like all of your fears playing in surround sound with you the star of the show. Like there is some demonic writer that thinks it's hilarious to make the characters and the audience suffer." Dean shook his head. "I watched you leave me every way imaginable. I watched mom burn on the ceiling, I watched as every single innocent person I tried to save get eaten by the monsters. They dismembered me, blinded me, let me scream until I had nothing left. And they kept doing it. It was never ending. I think fire would have been easier."

"But you made it."

"Yeah. I made it. I made it just barely. I wouldn't have lasted long in there before I became one of them, before I hurt so bad that I would have done to other souls what was happening to me. Over and over again. Everything. It was awful Sammy." Sam nodded waiting for his brother to continue. Dean looked up into his brother's eyes. "I'm glad you fought for me. I'm glad you came after me."

"You're my brother." Dean nodded.

"Yeah. I've used that excuse for doing all sorts of stupid crap." Sam looked up confused. "It is one excuse that I'll use for the rest of my life." Sam looked perplexed.


"You gonna eat that?" he asked pointing with his fork at the meatball sitting on the side of his plate. Seeing the evasion for what it was, Sam shook his head. Dean speared it with his fork and put the whole thing in his mouth. His cheeks bulged with the meat, and for the first time in his life, Sam didn't feel disgusted, didn't feel the need to gripe at his brother about his lack of table manners. This was the new Sam. The Sam that was simply grateful for the brother before him, stronger, and more mature.

Dean was no longer lost. Sam had found him…..and saved him.

A/N: This story started out as a 1-shot. All I saw was Dean almost comatose with long hair and a beard. That was all I was going to write. Then people asked for it to be longer, and here I am fifty some chapters later, a summer passed, and I am just now finishing this.

I have enjoyed writing this, and I have enjoyed reading everyone's comments. This story helped me find my voice as a writer in this community. You guys gave me confidence where I didn't have any, and I thank you all greatly.

Finally, I am sad to end this story because it has brought me friends that I will continue to enjoy their company. Thank you everyone for your encouragment and your praise, I am truly humbled and undeserving. Thank you very much.


P.S--good to know I was wrong about how S4 would start...Dean in a salt circle for half a season, waste of Jensen's talent and a scary sight to behold, because we all know Jensen would have ackted it out of the park! LOL