Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural

Sam had once learned that tears had the power to make you feel better. That after you had a good cry, your overall mood would enlighten and that the outlook would be brighter in the back of your mind.

Sam thought that this was the most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard, and that whoever had first recited these words was definitely the most heartless man on the earth.

The lifeless body of Dean Winchester was still in his arms, the eyes that normally bounced with life were blank, the warmth that radiated from his chest was bitter cold, and the merry laugh that escaped from his lips was nonexistent. The essence of Sam's brother was lost.

His clothes, ripped from the hell hounds and stained with blood, were now also tainted with the salty, endless pour of Sam's tears. Every time he attempted to calm himself, his eyes welled up with another river. He didn't know how much time had passed, how long he'd been holding onto Dean, or even what his needs were. All he cared about was the motionless man in his grip. Sam rocked his body back and forth, biting away his sobs on his bottom lip. His brother was all he had. He had promised Dean that he would get him out of his deal; that he would save him like Dean had always done for him, but he had failed.

"Dean," he murmured helplessly at the form in his arms, "Dean, what am I going to do without you?"

He couldn't even imagine where Dean was at the moment, in the depths of Hell or if he was still in the middle of dying inside. Sam clutched Dean tighter to his chest, burying his nose in his hair and inhaling deeply. Dean's words from the night before echoed in his mind.

"Sam, when I had you in my arms and you were dead, I thought it was the worst way to lose you. And when I made that deal I wasn't thinking about where I would be a year from then. But it turns out that knowing I'm going to have to leave you is even harder than losing you all of a sudden. I didn't think it would be."

Sam wiped his tear-stained cheek off on his sleeve, his swollen eyes unfocused and blurry. Meekly, he removed his limp arms from Dean, laying him gently on the floor as he tried to stumble his way to the bathroom to wipe off his face.

He stopped blindly in his tracks when he saw Dean, his brother in flesh and blood, strutting across the room with his usual confident swagger and a plate of chicken wings in one hand. He gave one repulsed glare to the carcass on the floor and looked indignantly at Sam.

"Would you get that thing out of here?" he demanded through a mouthful of chicken, "It's gonna start smelling, Sammy."

Sam stared, his eyes wide, as his gaze traveled down Dean's body. Just like the dead figure on the floor, he had tears in his clothing and blood dripping from gashes in his skin, but he was still strutting around the room as though he didn't have a single scratch.

"Stop staring, Sam," Dean muttered, gazing at his brother uncomfortably.

"You're dead." Sam mumbled in disbelief.

"Yeah, and?" Dean shrugged as though being dead was about as normal as driving to the supermarket. He licked off his greasy fingers, offering the chicken to Sam, who shook his head faintly.

"Am I going insane?"

"What?"

"You're not alive. But – but you're here. And you're there!" Sam pointed fixedly at the lifeless body on the floor, a hand raking through his hair.

"Sam, I'm not going to stay here forever," Dean said impatiently, "so could we skip the fact that I'm dead and actually do something?"

"Are you – a ghost? Or a shapeshifter?" Sam narrowed his eyebrows, taking a step back cautiously.

"Sam, don't be paranoid. This is me. This is what you wanna see, I know it is. I know you miss me. And like I said before, I'm not going to be here forever, so let's take advantage of the time we have!

"How much time do you have?" Sam asked.

"About a day, all right? The only reason I'm here is to help you."

"Help me?" Sam repeated. He was still gazing back and forth from the Dead Dean and the Living Dean.

"Help you get over me. Get on with your life. I don't want you suffering over me."

"But I can't go on without you, Dean!" Sam muttered helplessly, his knees buckling underneath him, "who's going to save my ass during hunts? Who's going to get angry with me when I spill food in the Impala? Who's going to be my big brother, Dean?" Tears falling from his eyes once again, Sam lowered himself to the ground.

Dean sighed, padding across the floor and kneeling down besides his brother, patting his back consolingly, "You've lived life without me before, Sam. I don't expect you to keep on hunting. You should do what you want to do with your life, before it's over."

Sam shook his head, clinging desperately to the fabric of his brother's shirt, "No. Not without you."

Dean growled frustratingly, "Sammy, work with me, all right? I'm trying to help you."

"Then stay here, with me, please, Dean. I don't know who I am without you."

"You know who you are," Gently, Dean ran his fingers through Sam's hair, "you're Sam Winchester, the most caring teddy bear in town. And you're a badass hero, too."

"When I saw you there, getting… attacked by those things, I couldn't even feel my own body. I couldn't see the hounds. I didn't know to stop them. I couldn't stop crying when it was all over."

"Yeah, you are a drama queen," Dean said fondly, soothingly massaging at Sam's shoulders. "Like the last time I was dying, remember that? You took me to that phony faith healing service."

Sam shook his head, sobbing, "I would kill anyone for you to live, Dean. Even myself."

Dean shook his head firmly, "That's the problem with us Winchesters. We keep on trying to save each other even though we don't want each other to."

"I don't know how I'm going to carry on without you," Sam mumbled to his pants, "it won't be the same. No one can make me laugh like you did. I need you, Dean. I love you."

"I love you too, Sammy."

"No," Sam shook his head, "I love you, Dean." He stared deplorably at his stunned brother, "I know I shouldn't have waited until now. I mean – you're dead. What are we ever going to have, right?"

Dean smiled at him, a soft laugh tumbling from his mouth. He tenderly gripped Sam's chin with two fingers and turned his head around so they faced each other, "We have now." He offered suggestively before very carefully pressing their lips together. Sam shuddered at the feeling. Dean's lips were colder than stone and feathery light, almost like a ghost's touch. Which technically, Dean was.

The older man sighed against Sam's lips as they parted, "Why did you have to wait until now, huh, Sammy? We just wasted about ten years of our lives."

Sam nodded, biting his lip as his tears threatened to spill again. Dean let their foreheads rest together, closing his eyes as he let his thumb lean up to brush away the stray tears from Sam's cheek. Sam leant into the touch with a purr.

"Why do you have to go, Dean? I – I c-can't go on without you. I'm better dead than I am alive."

"Hey!" Dean said sharply, grabbing Sam's face, "You are staying alive, you hear me? You remember what I did for you!"

"I remember," the younger hunter nodded, "I don't know why you did it, though. I need you, Dean."

Dean gingerly encircled his arms around Sam in an embrace. Sam sighed, nestling into, head resting on Dean's shoulder. He couldn't help but let his gaze stray to the cold body lying dead on the floor and the same body in his arms.

Dean lifted his head slightly, pressing his lips to Sam's ear in a kiss before he whispered, "Sammy, I love you. You have to keep going, even if it's without me, all right? It'll be okay."

Sam clung to his brother, "Let's… let's not talk about that now. I – I want to remember the moment, all right?"

"All right." Dean agreed quietly, and burrowed closer to his brother's embrace with a sigh. "God, Sam, I'm gonna miss you."

Sam nodded blindly against his shoulder in agreement, hastily blinking away his tears.

--

Twenty-four hours was not exactly what Sam called a truckload of time. And his twenty-four hours to cling onto the last remaining memories he would have of Dean were slipping from his grasp like soap on wet fingers.

They were settled in the sheets of the bedroom, Dean dozing off and Sam trying to memorize the way that Dean's waist pressed against his and the way his bare thigh touched his. His grip on Dean tightened, his fingernails pressing deeply into his skin.

"Ow," Dean muttered, awakening from his light slumber, "watch your nails, Sammy."

"Sorry." Sam mumbled apologetically, his eyes flickering once again to the clock ticking away on the nightstand. "Oh god." He murmured.

"What is it?"

"One hour, Dean. I have you for only one more hour."

Dean kissed his brother's hair consolingly, slipping out of the sheets and grabbing his clothes. Sam couldn't help but wince as he watched Dean's nude figure covered in gashes and scratches in marks made clearly from a hell hound; gashes that looked like they could start gushing blood all over again.

"Stop watching the damn clock, all right? You're becoming real paranoid."

"I'm losing you, Dean," Sam muttered, "I'm losing you for the second time. Don't play the cool boy, all right? Just like when you were alive, always trying to be the guy who didn't care he was dying." He said bitterly, rubbing at his face exhaustingly.

"Hey! I was just trying to make it easier on you!"

"Yeah, well, I would've liked if you would've been honest with me, Dean! Just told me that you were scared, and then maybe we could have helped you a little bit better!"

"That's in the past, Sam, okay? Just relax."

"No!" Sam threw the sheets away from his body, snatching up his clothes crossly. "I can't handle this, Dean! You say that everything's okay, but it's not! I wish you had never brought me back a year ago and that I would still be dead! Maybe then I wouldn't feel so damn guilty about your death, Dean!"

Suddenly, through his swirl of frustration, he felt cool arms wrapping around his waist and soothing nothings being shushed into his ear. He struggled against his brother's hold for the next few seconds before he sighed, defeated, melting into Dean's form.

"Sam, it's okay. Really. Maybe – maybe the memories of me are better than actually having me here. At least – at least then I won't be here to screw up what, what we have now." He smiled weakly, planting another soft kiss on Sam's unresponsive lips.

"Is this the last I'll ever see of you?"

Dean shook his head, "Of course not, Sam," he mumbled, laughing nervously, "I'll see you in Hell, remember?"

"I'm looking forward to it."

Dean wiped another tear from his brother's cheek. "It's okay, Sam, it really is. The hero dies in this one. But it's okay this time, it's not like Superman is taking the big plunge!"

"I should've found a way to save you." Sam said stubbornly, shaking his head.

"Sam, you've saved me more than you should've already. And – and this time it was my mess. It's okay that you didn't save me. You… you did good, Sammy. Just remember that."

--

They had spent their last few minutes together sitting on bed, Dean stroking his brother's back and Sam idly reaching out to grasp Dean's fingers. And when it had come down to one more minute left, Dean had gently kissed Sam's head and stood up.

"I love you, little brother," he murmured against his hair, "I'm – I'm sorry I failed my job of taking care of you. I'm so sorry. But please, do try and remember me, all right? Remember us."

Sam nodded blankly, tears falling from his eyes again. He was somewhat surprised to find tears running down Dean's cheeks as well. "I could never forget you."

"You – you, oh god, Sam, you're so talented," Dean was choking on his own words as he neared the end of his speech, "don't let any of that go to waste, okay? You have to let me go and move on, please, just so I don't kick myself in the ass more than I can count."

They pressed their mouth together in one last wet kiss, tears running down into their parted lips.

"I'm going to miss you, Sammy," Dean mumbled as he glanced again at the clock. "My pain in the ass little brother. Just keep going, all right, you've got too much left to give – promise me, promise me that you'll keep going."

"Dean…" Sam mumbled through his throaty voice and raspy tears. He reached out, cupping his brother's cheek.

"I'll always be with you, Sammy."

Vaguely in the back of his mind, Sam felt Dean slipping out of his grasp and away from reach.

"No…" he choked out.

"I'm so sorry." Dean's voice floated one last time before he was pulled entirely from Sam.

"No… no, Dean, please, no!" Sam wrapped his arms around his knees, pulling them up to rock himself back and forth. It did nothing to soothe him. Nothing at all.

--

Hours turned into days, days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. Dean's body stayed on the floor where Sam would reach out to stroke his hair, trying to remember the last few things his brother had told him. That Sam should move on, that he should let him go…

That Dean would always be with him…

And right now, that was enough for Sam.

AN: I cannot wait until fourth season. I know that a lot of the writers have said that Dean won't be showing up in the first few episodes, but I'm still hoping that Sam won't be alone for long! Where will all the wincest come from?? :D But still, for all of you who are curious, the next wincest story I write will definitely be happier. Much happier!