Sam Winchester's brother was gone.
He had lost him in the most horrific fashion; he had watched the hounds of hell rip his brother's flesh from him and then watched as Dean's soul was torn from him, taken down to his brother's own version of hell.
Sam's hell though had been right here, lying in front of him. The brother that he loved and that had looked after him since they were little was dead, taken from him, and he had had to watch this happen, unable to move, unable to help, made to watch the scene unfold like a horror movie in front of his eyes.
Dean had died so Sam could live but Sam had wanted to die too as he watched the light go out in his brother's eyes.
Sam had tended to his brother as he had always done after the hunt; he cleaned his wounds and laid him down to rest. He had lain down beside him, holding his brother to him, and then he had cried. He had cried tears of grief. He had cried tears of helplessness and frustration, the helplessness and frustration that he felt at having being unable to do anything to prevent this very moment, the moment when his brother was gone from him, perhaps forever. The moment that he had dreaded for the last year, yet had known must come. The moment that was his fault.
Sam's tears had been gentle. His sobs had been silent. His head rested partly on his brother's bare chest and he had let his tears wash gently over Dean. Spent from the events of the day and his grief at his brother's passing Sam Winchester had let exhaustion overcome him and he had slipped down into a welcome oblivion.
Sam's tears had trickled down over his brother's neck and chest and finally touched the amulet that Dean wore around his neck, this amulet that was his most treasured possession because to him it signified his brother's love for him. Never since the Christmas that Sam had given it to him had he taken it off, not even to wash.
As Sam's tears touched it a heat stirred within it making it warm to the touch, it seemed to take strength from Sam's tears of grief, the warmth increasing as it spread out through the body of the dead man around whose neck it lay.
Slowly, the wounds in Dean's chest began to fade, changing from ragged welts to thin strips of silver as they became scars instead of gashes on his skin. A rosy hue spread through him, pushing away the pale colour of death, blood flowing into every corner of his body, its path almost visible through his skin.
If Sam had been awake he would have felt the slow rise and fall of his brother's chest as the breath was forced back into him, he would have felt the faint beat from the heart that lay directly under his hand. Dean took a small gasp of air as the life that had been forcibly removed from him was pushed back into his waiting body. He blinked and his eyes were no longer empty and dead, instead the light behind them making the green in them almost luminous.
Dean sat up slowly and carefully, aware of his brother's figure next to him. He watched him sleep, wondering why he lay beside him. He moved his brother's arm and head from him and rose from the bed. He could feel the stains of his brother's tears on him; the tears that he somehow knew has brought him back even if he did not know how.
He was lost, unsure of what had happened, only vague recollections of where he had been and where he now was. He padded barefoot into the bathroom and stared at the man in the mirror. He stared at the silver streaks were the hellhounds had attacked him and he remember the pain that he had felt if not the actual act. He stared into a face and eyes than looked like him but his reflection was different somehow to that which it had been before his journey and he was unable to tell what had changed. He resisted the urge to smash the mirror into a thousand pieces, unwilling to awake his sleeping brother.
Walking back into the bedroom he saw the car keys lying on the table were Bobby had laid them and he took them and turned for a last look at his brother. He quietly walked over to the bed and gently kissed Sam on the top of the head, the amulet briefly glowing palely as it brushed against him. His brother stirred at his touch but did not awaken.
If he had awakened, Sam would have rejoiced that the resurrection of his brother had been so quick and easy but he could not know that for Dean the journey had been long and arduous, and the time that past for him far greater than that which had past for his brother. He could not know that his brother's soul had truly known torment.
Dean walked down through the house. Bobby was lying on a chair in the living room, sleeping, although his breathing was heavy and it was obvious that he too had cried at his loss. Dean noticed the empty bottle at the older hunter's feet.
Dean opened the front door and the cold air took his breath away. He revelled in its touch as it lifted the hairs on his skin making him feel alive.
He walked barefoot and almost naked over to the black car the sat awaiting its master's touch to bring it to life. He opened the trunk and pulled jeans and a t-shirt out of his bag and dressed, unable to find his boots he left his feet bare and climbed into the car. The smell of the leather assaulted his senses bringing a feeling of familiarity and comfort to him, causing him to smile. He rubbed at his wrists for they ached, although he could not remember why this should be. Starting the car he took one last look back at the house in which his brother lay and then he drove off, the darkness of the night making it appear as if the car and its occupant had been swallowed, only the tail lights, like devil's eyes visible for a while until they too were extinguished.
Rough hands dragged Sam from his dreams, his dreams of his brother standing bloody and torn asking why Sam had not helped him, why he had not saved him. Bobby's voice cut through, urgent and questioning and Sam tried to wake, to focus.
"Where's your brother? SAM! Where is your brother?" Bobby's voice pierced the veil around him and he sat up, confused and disoriented. Dean was dead yet now he no longer lay beside him.
"Where is my brother?" He echoed Bobby's concern and question. Fully awake he sat up trying desperately to remember if anything had happened. "Bobby, where the hell is my brother?"
Sam was on his feet, he searched the house coming to a stop at the open front door.
"No, no, no, no!" He ran out to where he knew that the Impala has sat and was greeted only with an empty space. The panic that he had tried to keep contained rose now and he spun round in circles desperately searching the night for a sign as to which way the car had gone. All around there was nothing except blackness. Sam dropped to his knees and screamed his brother's name.
The silence of the night was his only reply.
Sam Winchester's brother was gone.