REUNION

REUNION

SUMMARY: Missing scenes to Lazarus Rising.

A/N: I loved the Season 4 premiere but wanted more from Sam's perspective. This is a couple of those missing moments. I hope you enjoy. Spoilers for Lazarus Rising, obviously, but nothing beyond that.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Supernatural or its characters. As usual, I am simply playing in the sandbox Eric Kripke created.

Four months ago……..

They carried Dean's body from the house in silence, Sam in shock, Bobby knowing there was nothing he could say to ease Sam's grief.

The demons that had waited outside, held at bay by the sanctified sprinkler system, were nowhere to be seen. Gone with Lilith, Bobby assumed, now the job was done – Dean's soul was in Hell.

All they had left was his empty shell, a body ravaged by hellhounds. Bobby glanced up at Sam; tears stained the younger Winchester's face but when Bobby had found him, holding on to his brother and rocking slightly, the tears had already stopped. Shock had set in and Sam was disappearing before his eyes beneath an avalanche of guilt, fear and grief.

He had given Sam time with his brother then, gently but firmly, told him they had to leave. Sam had moved robotically, saying nothing but not protesting either. As they reached the Impala, Bobby opened the back door on the passenger side and, together, they gently slid Dean inside for his final ride in his beloved car.

Bobby then crossed to his car, returned with a blanket and handed it to Sam. The younger Winchester stared at it for a moment, as if unsure what to do with it, then leaned into the car and covered Dean. The blanket hid all the horrific wounds but Bobby knew they were etched indelibly into Sam's consciousness.

Bobby stayed quiet until Sam stepped back and closed the car door. "What do you wanna do, kid?"

Sam stood staring at his brother's body, still saying nothing.

Bobby tried again. "We've gotta protect him from-"

"Protect him?" Sam scoffed, eyes glistening. "I couldn't protect him. Lilith couldn't touch me but I couldn't stop her from………" He swallowed, again fighting a losing battle with his emotions. "I couldn't stop her."

Bobby reached out, his hand resting on Sam's shoulder briefly before sliding down his arm to squeeze his biceps. Sam was trembling beneath his touch. "The best thing we can do for Dean now is make sure no one, nothing, uses him to-"

"No." Sam turned to glare at Bobby. "We are not salting and burning my brother."

Bobby sighed, knowing the grief was too raw for Sam to deal with the details of what must be done, but they had no choice. "Sam-"

"No." Sam turned back to stare at Dean. "Dad got out but we burned…" He shook his head. "I can get Dean out. There has to be something…" He reached out, resting his hand on the window of the Impala. His voice was barely audible. "He's gonna need his body when I bring him home."

Bobby's eyes widened. "Sam, you can't-"

"Watch me." The fire was back in Sam's eyes, albeit briefly, and Bobby knew there would be no changing his mind. He sighed. "Okay, kid. You wanna take him home to Lawrence?"

Sam's eyes never left his brother. "Dean swore he'd never go back. I'm not gonna take him back now."

Bobby nodded slowly. "Okay. So where then?"

Sam was quiet for a while. "I know a place. He'll be safe there till…"

Sam let the statement drift away and Bobby didn't press. "Okay. You lead, I'll follow."

Sam shook his head. "You don't have to. I can do this. He's my brother."

Bobby took a step closer to Sam, this time resting his hand on the back of Sam's neck. "I know you can handle it, Sam. I know you'll do right by your brother. But it's like I told Dean, family don't stop with blood. I wanna do this."

Again, Sam said nothing then, ultimately, nodded slowly. Without thinking, he reached for the handle to the Impala's passenger-side door, his hand curling into a fist when he realized what he'd done. He slammed his fist against the window, then walked around to the driver's side, opened the door and slid behind the wheel without another word.

They drove from New Harmony to rural Illinois, just outside Pontiac, stopping only for gas and to visit a hunter friend of Bobby's who didn't even blink at their request for a simple pine casket.

It was almost four hours later and dawn was breaking when Sam pulled off to the side of the road, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Bobby pulled in behind him and shut off the engine. As he walked toward the Impala, Sam was already out of the car and opening the trunk.

Bobby looked around, scratching his forehead under the peak of his ball cap. "You sure about this?"

Sam nodded as he pulled shovels and Dean's duffel from the trunk. "I'm sure. There's a clearing about half a mile in. He'll be protected there."

Questions were spinning fast and furiously through Bobby's head, but now was not the time. He simply nodded and reached out to take the shovels from Sam. "Half a mile, straight in?"

Sam nodded.

"Okay. Let me lug in what we need, then I'll come back to help you carry Dean."

Sam rested his hand on Dean's duffel. "Good. I wanna clean him up before…" He couldn't bring himself to finish the sentence.

Bobby said nothing. He took the shovels and the casket lid from his car and set off for the clearing. When he returned 30 minutes later, Sam had washed his brother's face, disposed of his bloody, shredded clothing and the blood-stained blanket and re-dressed him in clean jeans, T-shirt and shirt. If it weren't for the fact Dean now lay in the pine casket, he looked for all the world like he was simply asleep.

"You ready?" Bobby asked softly.

Sam nodded and the two of them picked up the casket and carried it into the woods. Two hours later they had dug a hole deep enough to handle the casket. Sam had dug steadily, robotically, but Bobby knew that the digging was the easy part.

He put down his shovel and turned to Sam, his heart breaking at the pain painted so clearly across his young friend's face. "You want some time before-before we finish this?"

Sam nodded.

"Okay." Bobby waved his hand toward the edge of the clearing. "I'll be over there. You just signal when you want me."

He walked away, picking up a fallen branch along the way, and sat down on a rock. He pulled his jackknife from his pocket and began whittling the tree branch. When he glanced up, Sam was sitting on the ground beside the open casket, talking quietly to his brother.

Sam rested his hand on the edge of the casket, his eyes locked on Dean. "I'm sorry. I should have been able to stop this…"

He was quiet for a while, thinking about all Dean had done for him and with him, then smiled softly. "You'll laugh at this but when I was little, second grade I think, the teacher asked what a parent's job is, what they are supposed to do for their kids." He shook his head as his smile widened and a lone tear escaped. "Most of the kids in my class had pretty typical homes, and their answers were pretty typical too – keep you safe, make dinner, help you with your homework, get you to school on time, love you ……but, with every answer, my first thought was 'Dean does that.'

"When I got a good report card, it was you I wanted to show it to; when I wanted to ask a girl out, but couldn't figure out how, it was you I wanted to ask for help – even though I knew you'd bust my chops for it.

"Even when I was at Stanford, there were days when I just wanted to pick up the phone, hear your voice – even if it was just to kick my ass and tell me 'Quit your whining, Sammy – you're the one who packed up and left.'

His eyes glassed over. "It was never about leaving you. God, I hope you knew that."

Sam cleared his throat in an attempt to wrestle his emotions back under control. "But I'm not leaving now, Dean. I'm not. I'm gonna keep looking 'til I find a way to bring you home. You stay strong, you keep fighting. We'll beat this. We will…"

He reached up and closed his fist around Dean's amulet, which now hung around his neck. He'd taken it from Dean to clean off the blood when he'd re-dressed his brother but, holding on to it, he realized how much he needed to keep at least a small piece of Dean with him, use it to channel his brother's strength as he'd done his entire life. "I'll give it back, Dean. I promise you that."

He reached out and placed his hand on Dean's chest. "My soul is deprived of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is; I tell myself my future is lost…He fisted his hand in Dean's shirt. "But I will call this to mind, as my reason to have hope." Sam let go of Dean and stood up slowly. He wasn't sure he remembered the biblical passage correctly, but he would hold on to hope, to his belief that he could bring Dean home.

He glanced over at Bobby and saw the older hunter staring back at him. He nodded, and Bobby pushed himself off the rock and walked back toward Sam, carrying a large cross he'd fashioned by lashing together two pieces of the branch he'd whittled down.

As Sam stared at the grave marker, Bobby shrugged. "Won't hurt, will it – give him a bit more protection?"

Sam shook his head, his voice hoarse. "Thanks."

"No thanks necessary, kid."

Between them, they lowered Dean's casket into the ground. Sam faltered when it came to placing the lid on the casket; the trembling that had racked his body since Dean's death suddenly escalating to violent shudders.

Bobby took the casket lid from him, slid down into the grave and said his own silent goodbye before sliding the lid into place. He reached for the hammer to fasten the lid closed but Sam's voice stopped him.

"No. Don't fasten him in."

Bobby looked questioningly at Sam but the younger Winchester simply shook his head.

"Just don't."

Bobby nodded, climbed out of the grave and picked up the shovels they had dropped earlier. He offered one to Sam. "Take your time. Whenever you're ready."

Sam took the shovel, stood silently for a few moments than threw in the first shovelful of dirt. Bobby threw in the second and within an hour, Dean's grave had been filled in.

Bobby drove the grave marker into the soft earth, then moved around to take the shovel from Sam. "I'm gonna head back to the car. You spend as much time here as you need. Then, when you're ready, you can follow me back to my place. We can-"

"No."

Bobby looked at Sam in surprise. "What?"

Sam stared at Dean's grave. "I'm not coming back with you, Bobby. I've gotta do this by myself."

Bobby shook his head. "No you don't. You-"

"Yes, Bobby, I do." Sam's jaw clenched stubbornly.

Bobby's heart broke for the kid. "Sam, please. Give yourself time. Let yourself grieve, let-"

Sam was angry now. "Dean's not dead, Bobby. He's in Hell. Every minute I do nothing, is a minute longer he's trapped there. I have to get him out. I have to." With a last glance at his brother's grave, Sam headed back to the Impala.

Bobby called after him. "Let me help. Let's do this together."

Sam stopped but didn't turn. "Do what you can, but I need to do this by myself."

With that, he disappeared into the trees. By the time Bobby got back to his car, Sam was gone.

xxxXXXxxx

Two months ago……

The demon's black eyes flashed maliciously. "From heir apparent, to laughing stock, Sammy – how the mighty have fallen. The great one who was supposed to lead an army to save our kind and take over the world couldn't even save his weak-minded fool of a brother."

Sam ignored the taunts, closing his eyes and focusing his thoughts as Ruby had taught him.

The demon's caustic smile slipped as it sensed a sudden build-up of psychic energy in the warehouse. He glared at Sam, puzzled for a moment, then laughed, goading him again. "If you listen hard enough, when the wind is right, you can hear your brother screaming." His smile returned. "That's the beautiful thing about Hell, Sam. You can rip a soul to shreds one day, toast to their agony, then hit the re-set button and do it all over again…and again…and again…and again…"

Sam's concentration slipped as rage and loathing consumed him. His eyes snapped open and he saw the smug look on the demon's face when it realized its barbs had worked and the psychic energy had dissipated.

Sam shook his head. He had tried and failed twice before, his knife finishing off what his psychic powers couldn't. "Not this time."

He closed his eyes, stretching out his hand toward the demon caught in their trap. In his mind's eye he could see the writhing, black mass within the unwilling host. The energy flowed from Sam, wrapping tightly around the demon then yanking it forcibly out.

The demon screamed at the attack. Sam staggered slightly as he felt it fight back but maintained his hold. Blood trickled from his nose but his outstretched hand held steady.

The host fell to its knees, the demon inside cursing Sam and every generation of his family to come, but Sam didn't waver. The host retched, spewing black smoke from its mouth and nose. But instead of spiraling away, the smoke fell to the ground, forming a roiling mass around the host. When the last of the demon had been expelled, Sam closed his outstretched hand. The smoke boiled briefly then burst into flames just as the host collapsed. When the flames died out, a blackened stain around the unconscious host was the only evidence the demon had ever existed.

Sam arm dropped limply to his side, his knees buckled and he went down hard. Sound and light distorted, the room spinning crazily around him. He heard his name called from somewhere off in the distance, then repeated. He rolled his head toward the voice but was aware only of a shadow looming over him before unconsciousness reached out and pulled him under.

As consciousness returned, he again heard his name – this time much closer. His eyes snapped open as he felt a cool cloth wiped gently across his face.

"That's it, Sam. Come on back. You did good."

Sam squinted, trying to bring the figure beside him into focus. When he did, she smiled down at him. "Head still in one piece?"

"Ruby." He glanced round, still struggling to keep things in focus. He was back in his motel room, lying on his bed. "How I'd get back here?"

"I brought you back." Ruby, sitting on the bed at Sam's side, leaned over to again wipe the cloth over his face. She frowned when Sam flinched at her touch, then reached up to snatch the cloth from her. "One of the advantages to being roomies – I know where you live."

Sam grimaced as he tried to push himself up, pain spiking behind his eyes. "Just give me some space, okay? I'm still getting used to this arrangement."

Ruby sighed as she stood up. "What's to get used to, Sam? It's mutually beneficial. We both want Lilith blasted into oblivion. You're immune to her powers, I'm not. But I can teach you to use your gifts to their fullest potential so you can take her down. In the mean time, I watch your back, like I did today, while you practise on the farm team. Then, when your abilities are at full strength, she's all yours."

Sam pinched the bridge of his nose, groaning as he pushed himself up enough to slump against the headboard. "You said this will get easier, right?" He rubbed his temple, the headache making him nauseous. "It's kind of a limited use skill if it's gonna knock me out each time I use it."

Ruby smiled. "You took a big step today – fired up abilities you've never tapped into before. That's bound to wipe you out. Next time will be easier, and the next time…." She pointed to his upper lip. "You've still got some blood there."

He used the cloth he'd taken from Ruby to scrub his face, staring suspiciously at the demon. Her new meatsuit was taking some getting used to, but that had been nothing compared to the offer to help him take down Lilith.

In the beginning, 'No' had been an easy answer. He was respecting Dean's last wishes and his desire for revenge against Lilith came in a distant second to saving his brother. But as time passed and every attempt to save Dean failed, temptation grew stronger each time Ruby appeared and repeated the offer.

When Sam ultimately said yes, it was a response fuelled by desperation. Nothing he'd done had worked and, bottom line, Lilith owned Dean's soul. If he had the power to destroy her, maybe she would be willing to bargain. It was a dangerous game but one he was more than willing to play.

In the quest to hunt her down, he preferred to work solo but sometimes, like now, he and Ruby posed as a couple. Sam was always on edge when the demon was around, never quite able to let down his guard, but, so far at least, she had been straight with him.

His phone rang and Ruby picked it up from the bedside table, checking out the caller display. She offered it to Sam. "It's Bobby."

Sam shook his head. "Don't answer it."

Ruby raised her eyebrows. "True friends are hard to find, Sam. You shouldn't cut yourself off from one of the few people left who has absolutely no hidden agenda. He just cares about you."

Sam nodded. "That's why I can't talk to him. He'll figure out what we're doing and try to stop us." He fixed his stare on Ruby. "He'll try to stop you."

Ruby's eyes flashed black briefly as she spread her arms wide. "Bring it on."

Sam sat up straight, his features hard. "Don't even joke about that. You threaten Bobby and I've got someone real handy to practise my newfound abilities on."

Ruby scowled. "Now that's gratitude." She sighed. "Look, I don't give a damn about Bobby Singer. I want Lilith gone. That's my sole agenda." She laughed at her own pun, then shrugged. "And, if I'm being completely honest, I don't much care if you get trampled in the process as long as Lilith goes down with you. In the mean time…." She smiled. "You make pretty arm candy."

Sam sat up, swung his legs off the bed and stood up. He towered over Ruby and hoped his height advantage made up for how shaky he felt. "You need to go – before I do or say something we'll both regret."

Ruby's eyes widened. "You're pulling out of our deal?"

Sam's jaw clenched and he hesitated. "No – I just don't need to be around you right now."

Ruby frowned then nodded slowly. "Whatever. Sometimes, you're a real drag, Sam." She turned and headed for the door, pausing with her hand on the door knob. "I'll be back. Leave a light on for me, honey." Then, with a soft chuckle, she was gone.

Sam shuddered, his shaky legs giving way suddenly so that he half-fell, half-sat on the edge of the bed. He raked his fingers through his hair, Dean's voice echoing clearly in his head. "That bitch is hellfire, Sammy, and you are gonna get burned."

He rested his elbows on his knees, holding his head in his hands. He didn't want Dean's voice in his head, he wanted it in the room with him, even if it was chewing him out over what he was doing.

He closed his eyes. "I have to do this, Dean. I have to. If there's even a chance it can bring you back……………I have to."

xxxXXXxxx

Present……..

Sam stepped into the shower, ducked his head and let the hot water pound down on his neck and shoulders knowing it would do no good. No matter how long he stayed there, no matter how hot the water, no shower would relax the knotted muscles that had been a constant presence since the day he buried Dean.

He raked his fingers through his hair then stared down at his hands. It had been months since his brother was killed but still he saw the blood and dirt that had stained his hands that day.

His eyes welled up as the rage, grief and frustration that were never far below the surface threatened to again break through his fragile defenses. He lifted his face to the shower, private tears, all that he allowed himself these days, mixing invisibly with water.

His abilities were getting stronger; Ruby had been right – now he could exorcise a demon and a slight headache was the only after-effect. But still there was no sign of Lilith and he was no closer to rescuing Dean. There were days when he wondered if he'd ever see his brother again - but he only needed to picture Dean lying on that floor, torn to shreds by the hellhounds, for his resolve to strengthen. He had to concentrate on Lilith; take her down and force her to give his brother back.

He shuddered. The water was running cold so he shut off the tap and stepped out of the shower. Wrapping a threadbare towel round his hips, he leaned over the sink and wiped off the steam from the cracked mirror. He stared at the amulet hanging round his neck and, in what had become a daily ritual, grabbed it in his fist and closed his eyes. "You will get this back, Dean. You will."

Sam toweled himself dry, pulled on his boxers and jeans, and then fastened his knife holster, a constant presence these days, through his belt loops. He frowned as he pulled on his t-shirt, muffled voices from the room beyond leaking through the closed bathroom door. They weren't expecting visitors but Ruby was definitely talking to someone.

He pulled open the door and stepped back into the room. Ruby had her back to him and was standing in the open doorway. Sam stepped around the door. "Hey, is-"

He couldn't breathe. He froze as his eyes met his brother's.

Dean was right there, feet away from him. He had spent almost every waking moment since his brother's death thinking of ways to pull him out of hell, to bring him back but, suddenly, he was right there. His eyes jumped to Bobby; what had he done?

"Heya, Sammy." The voice was gentle, free of snark; it was Dean with his walls down, as few were allowed to see him, and it broke the spell. Anger rolled over Sam like a tidal wave. This couldn't be his brother. It wasn't. All he had left of Dean was in memory and no shapeshifter, no revenant, was going to corrupt that and steal it from him.

Rage lent him speed; his knife was out, his hand raised even as he lunged at the imposter. But the shifter was quick too; it grabbed the knife, fending off Sam's attack.

"Who are you," he spat out venomously.

Now the imposter was angry too. Green eyes flashed as he struggled with Sam. "Like you didn't do this?"

Bobby jumped into the fray, dragging Sam off the imposter, holding him back with surprising strength. Confusion now tinged Sam's fury "Do what?" Chest heaving, he stared at...at... God, it looked so much like Dean. But it couldn't be - could it?

Bobby, seemingly reading his thoughts, tightened his grip on Sam "It's him. It's him, Sam. I've been through this already. It's really him."

Sam stopped struggling, Bobby's words echoing through his head. '...been through this already...it's really him.' Bobby believed it was Dean. Sam's heart was slamming against his chest as Bobby's grip relaxed. "Wait…"

Again he couldn't breathe. It wasn't an imposter. It was Dean. Really Dean.

Dean smiled, offering a characteristic shrug. "I know. I look fantastic, huh?"

Sam's doubts and defenses crumbled. He lunged forward again, but this time wrapping his brother in a tight hug. His lungs' inability to work had nothing do with Dean's strong arms wrapping round him and returning the hug. Sam had a thousand questions but they could all wait. For now, he held on to the moment as tightly as he held on to Dean.

He had his brother back.

FINIS

A/N: Thanks as always for reading. I'd love to hear what you think, about this tag, the premiere or both. Some of what I've written is fanwank, obviously, as I have seen nothing of Season 4 beyond the premiere but I've touched on a couple of things I hope we get answers to eventually. For example, I was really curious why Sam picked that location for Dean's grave. Could be nothing, could be something. I'm hoping it's something. The biblical passage Sam recites is from Lamentations. Dialogue during Sam & Dean's actual reunion was written by Eric Kripke for Lazarus Rising.