Title: Wake Me Up When September Ends

Title: Wake Me Up When September Ends

Author: RavenMerc

Ratings: PG-13, T, for Sammy's naughty language.

Spoilers: Supernatural all through episode 4.01

Category: Angst

Feedback: Gives me a happy. Please review. I need all the help I can get. ;-)

Archive:

AN: This may be part of a larger story to span the missing months between 3.16 and 4.01. It depends on how badly I get Jossed on Thursday. The Latin quoted came from RaeSofSunshine's hard work in Supernaturalwiki. A BIG thank you to my awesome beta, Olivia Sutton. You rock! She only had an opportunity to beta part 1 and I futzed with it after, so any and all mistakes are mine and mine alone. The town I have listed for Iowa is fictitious.

Summary: Missing scenes, post No Rest For the Wicked, Sam's POV.

Disclaimer: I own squat and it ain't pretty. Of Supernatural, I own nothing. Kripke and the CW do however, and hopefully won't mind me playing in the sandbox. I promise to put the boys back when I'm done.


Part 1

New Harmony, Indiana

May 15, 2008

He'd failed. Sam Winchesters eyes filled with tears as he dropped to his knees. He tenderly picked up his brother's body into his arms. He'd failed. "No." Now his brother was in hell for eternity. "No. Dean." Sam sobbed over Dean's torn body. "Dean." He'd promised his brother he'd save him. He'd failed.

He deserved to be alone, but Dean…Dean didn't deserve to be in hell. The man who'd always, always, been there for Sam, throughout his entire life no matter what, who'd always put others before himself shouldn't be in hell. "Dean, I'm sorry." Grief crashed down on Sam like a tidal wave drowning him as he sat there and rocked back and forth, holding his brother. No, no, no, no, no.

Sam didn't know how long he'd stayed like that, but he next became aware of a hand gripping his right shoulder. Tears streamed like rivers down his face. Sam looked up to see their friend, Bobby Singer. Tears ran down the older man's craggy face as well.

Bobby started to talk, stopped, cleared his throat and started again. "Sam, we've gotta go. Cops'll be here soon. We have to go now."

Sam looked blankly around at the carnage in the dining room. Dean's blood was everywhere. Sam shook as he saw the sprayed patterns on the floor and walls. And there was Ruby…the body Ruby had worn…lying dead in the midst.

"Sam…" the firm hand on his shoulder shook him gently. "Come on, son. We've got to go. Sam? Are you with me?"

Sam looked up again at Bobby as the words penetrated his mind. He nodded once and lifted Dean's body up as he stood.

"Sam, do you want me to help you with him?" Bobby asked gently.

Sam shook his head slightly and staggered out of the room to the front door, his feet like lead weights, with Bobby following. Outside the neat suburban house, everything was quiet. Bodies lay strewn in front of the in ground lawn sprinklers that still spewed holy water. The men continued their quiet journey down the street to where they'd left the cars earlier.

Bobby went over to open the door of the Impala and found it locked. He turned around apologetically. "Sam, do you have…"

"No." his voice was raspy with tears. "Dean's got…they're…they're in his pocket." Sam looked at his brother again as a fresh wave of grief washed over him.

"I'll get then, son. Just hang on for a few more moments, okay?" Bobby gingerly retrieved the keys from Dean's front pants pocket and unlocked the Impala. He opened the door of the old model coupe and moved out of the way.

Sam gently lowered Dean's body onto the backseat of the car. Sam thought about the last time he'd seen his brother in the car's backseat. Sam had had to carry him then, too. But then, Dean had been alive, had lived, in spite of his injuries, in spite of the subsequent "accident."

Dean had survived then because of their father. Because John Winchester had sucked up two decades of bitterness and had made a deal with the devil he'd hunted relentlessly. A deal to save his eldest son's life.

Sam closed his eyes and swallowed hard. Now Dean's 'baby' was going to perform one last service for his brother. The same as it had done for their father. Tonight it would do duty as a hearse and take it's owner to his final rest. A tap on Sam's shoulder pulled him from his morbid thoughts. He opened his eyes and looked over his shoulder and found himself being presented with an old blanket. He carefully covered his brother's body with the proffered linen and then stood next to the vehicle. He turned to look at Bobby.

Bobby's reddened eyes were full of concern. "You gonna be okay to drive, Sam?"

Drive? Oh, yeah. Sam nodded solemnly.

"Okay. You follow me home, okay? If you need to stop, either flash the lights or call my cell, you got that?" Bobby looked into Sam's eyes as he waited for an answer.

Sam nodded again. Follow Bobby. Sam got into the drivers seat of the big black car. As Bobby got into his car, Sam turned the engine over. The engine caught and rumbled to life. Music blared from the stereo which Sam snapped off immediately then glanced guiltily at the still form in back. He put the car into gear and followed the taillights of Bobby's aging Chevelle out of town and out to the highway.

The numbness that had suffocated Sam began to fall away as the miles went by. But his mind wasn't quiet. Anything but. Self-recriminations crowded it. If only he'd trusted Ruby. If only he'd believed her that his powers were still there. If only he'd used them to purposely save Dean rather than himself by accident. But he hadn't and now…he shuddered.

"What am I suppose to do?" Sam whispered forlornly to the dark.

Keep fighting. Take care of my wheels.

"I will, Dean. I won't let you down again."

Remember what Dad taught you.

"What he taught me? Other than obsessiveness?" Sam laughed humorlessly. He thought for a moment. "Persistence. There's always another way, you just gotta find it."

Remember what I taught you.

"Everything. Dean you taught me every fucking thing, from tying my shoelaces, to multiplication tables to fixing your 'baby.' I just wish I'd been able to stop this for you." Sam blinked furiously as he teared up again.

"Some lawyer I'd have made. I should have been able to find a way to stop it. I should have found a way out for you. God, I'm so sorry, Dean."

Sam lapsed into silence as the tears overflowed again and regret dogged his heels. After awhile the analytical part of his mind began to sluggishly work through the mental molasses of grief and a thought rose to the top. He hadn't been able to stop Dean's trip to hell…but nothing in the agreement said that Dean had to stay there.

That thought had Sam straightening in the seat, tears drying on his face. If Dad had been able to find his way out, if Demon Meg had been able to crawl her way out, then there should be a way to get Dean out. If Sam worked fast enough, he could get his big brother back. "But how?" he asked out loud. Research was needed.

"Dad."

Or not so much. The Devil's Gate. 'That's how Dad got out. That's how I can get Dean out.' Sam didn't care that it would mean unleashing more demons on the world. He'd gladly let every demon out of hell if it got him Dean back. Opening it would be tricky. The Colt which was the key to the door was gone, possibly in hell already courtesy of Bela's treachery.

I hope the bitch rots there for eternity. If it hadn't been for her, they'd have had something to bargain for Dean's life with: Lillith's own existence.

Hang on, Dean. I'll get you back. There had to be another way to open the Gate. Sam pondered the hows for several miles before he noticed Bobby signaled to leave the highway. Flipping on the right turn signal, he followed the older man's car off the highway and through a small city before stopping at an all night coffee shop.

I can't tell Bobby. He wouldn't understand. Or he'd understand only too well. But Sam was past putting nameless, faceless, people ahead of his brother. He'll try to stop me.

Sam pulled on the blank game face he'd perfected courtesy of the Trickster's last prank. Lesson. Whatever the hell it was it was you called it, the results were about to pay dividends. He knew Bobby would keep at him no matter what. He'd have to leave. Soon.

After parking in a particularly dim section of the parking lot, Sam killed the engine, got out of the car and walked over to where Bobby stood patiently next to his own vehicle. Once he got there, he just stood, silently waiting for an explanation.

Bobby looked at him closely for a moment and then said, "I figured we'd need something to help us get home. Once we get there we'll take care of him same as your daddy, okay?"

"No." Sam kept his voice low and his face empty.

Bobby looked at him, perplexed. "No, to what part, son?"

"We're not salting and burning him." Not with what I'm going to do.

Bobby stared at him in shock as had to obviously work to keep his voice down. "Sam, it's SOP for hunters, you know that."

Sam looked him coldly in the eyes. "You're not salting and burning my brother."

Bobby looked even more confused and not a little bit wary. "Why, Sam?" He asked quietly.

"Because…" his voice hitched slightly as some of his inner pain leaked through, "because he'll need a body when I get him back home." Why the hell did I tell him that?

"Sam…?" A frightened look was entering the older man's eyes.

"I'm gonna get him back, Bobby. Somehow. Some way." Sam's voice was almost a whisper. There was no way Bobby knew what he intended. His face hardened as well as his voice. "We're burying him. Here. Tonight."

"Okay, son. We'll bury him outside of town. But how do you plan on finding him again?"

Sam pulled out his cell. "GPS."

Bobby nodded reluctantly. "I'll just go in and get us a couple of coffees. You'd best stay out here." He nodded at Sam's appearance.

Sam looked down. He'd forgotten his clothes were saturated with blood. Dean's blood. Sam swallowed a sudden urge to vomit and nodded back to Bobby, silently agreeing to his directive.

Sam leaned on the hood of the Impala and watched Bobby go into the coffee shop. He considered what he needed to do and how limited his time frame was. Sleep was definitely going to be a luxury for the foreseeable future.

Bobby soon returned with a big cup of coffee in each hand. He offered one to Sam who took it and drained the cup. He figured it would stop Bobby from trying to lecture him. As he had the last time Dean was dead.

"We're gonna need a box." Sam spoke up suddenly.

Bobby stopped for a minute. "We passed a lumber yard back a few blocks. We can probably get what we need there."

Sam nodded.

They got back into their respective cars without another word being said and started the engines. Bobby led them to the lumber yard in question. It was small, but it had what they needed: wood. Sam deftly picked the lock on the front gate and quickly went to the back and handed some of the smaller pieces of scrap or damaged wood that lay behind the building 'scraps' over the fence to Bobby who stowed them in the trunk of his car. When they'd gotten what they needed, Sam went back out the way he'd come, locking the gate again.

Back in the cars Sam took the lead driving out of town a ways until they came to a small wooded area, where their flashlights would be less likely to be seen.

Sam pulled off the road and hid the car behind some brush. He turned off the engine and got out. He went to the trunk and opened it. He pulled out a shovel and the flashlights. He handed a flashlight to Bobby as he approached.

"I'll start on the box, Sam." Bobby said quietly.

Sam nodded, knowing Bobby'd probably do a better job at building it than he would. Sam walked another fifty feet from the road before coming to a slight clearing in the trees. Sam set his flashlight down and began to dig.

The work went slower than he'd thought. It was harder than digging someone up, he noticed. This was hard-packed, undisturbed soil. But by the time Bobby finished the box, Sam had finished digging the hole.

They lowered the box into the grave and headed back to the cars.

Sam opened the door to the Impala and pulled the blanket off of Dean. The wounds looked even worse then they had when they were fresh. Sam swallowed hard and his jaw quivered.

No chick flick moments.

The world according to Dean. Sam's breath shuddered out. He looked, for what he hoped wasn't the last time, at his big brother. I'll get you out. I promise.

Before picking up his body, Sam reached out and touched the amulet he'd given Dean all those Christmases ago. He lifted it off his brother's neck and transferred it to his own. "I'll look after it for you." I'll give it back to you when I get you home.

Sam picked up Dean and lifted him out of the car. He carried him over to the grave. He laid Dean on the ground and hopped down into the box. He listed Dean again and carefully set him in the box. He pulled himself out. He and Bobby then laid the lid on the makeshift casket. Sam began to fill in the hole.

I'll be back. You'll be back, Dean. I promise. Sweat mixed with silent tears on Sam's face. He paused to wipe his face on his sleeve before continuing. Soon, too soon, the job was done. His brother was dead and buried.

Bobby hadn't been idle while Sam had been shoveling, he'd only just now noticed. He'd made a grave marker of sorts. Actually it was just two pieces of lumber stuck together but it would serve its purpose. He'd be able to find Dean when the time came.

Using the flat of the shovel, Sam pounded the marker into the ground at the head of the grave.

He and Bobby just stood there silently for several moments until Bobby put a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"It's time to go, Sam." Bobby said quietly.

Sam nodded. But first he needed to find here again. Sam pulled out his cell and memorized the GPS for the gravesite. He put the cell back in his pocket and looked at Bobby.

"Let's go."

Sam walked back to the car and got in. The cars pulled out onto the road and Bobby again took the lead as the promise of dawn rose in the back window of the car.


Shortly after 9 pm that evening, the two cars pulled into the yard at Bobby's home in South Dakota. It had been a long quiet drive. Sam had made the most of it by trying to plan out how to open the Gate. He'd need everything he could read on it. Fortunately, Bobby had all the material. Ellen had left it after they'd closed the Gate last year.

Sam got out of the car slowly; the kinks in his back and legs from the long journey worked painfully out as he retrieved his duffle from the trunk and walked to the door. He followed Bobby into the house.

The older man looked at him in a considering manner and then waved him in further. "You'd best shower first, Sam."

Sam nodded in agreement and continued onward to the bathroom. After showering the day's gristly reminders off he dressed in clean clothes and went to one of the spare rooms Bobby kept for when he and Dean visited.

Staying here was one of the few times in his life he'd had a room to himself. He'd used to love being here for that reason. His whole life growing up had been a series of cheap motels and cheaper two room rentals. Now he hated it. He hated himself and his selfishness. He hated the solitude and the space. He hated it all because Dean was no longer just a wall away.

Emotional pain threatened to take over again. Sam spent several minutes breathing hard as he struggled to get it all back under control again. He couldn't afford to lose it now. He'd have to wait until Dean was back. Then he could let go. Not until then.

Sam turned off the light and sat in the dark waiting. An hour or so later he heard footsteps pause outside the door for a minute before continuing on to the end of the hall. He waited for another hour before getting to his feet and gathering his duffle bag and crept downstairs. Dozens of visits through the years had taught him which steps to avoid if he wanted to be quiet.

Down in Bobby's study, he put on a small lamp and dug for the papers relating to the Gate. When he found them after two hours of searching, he used his camera on his cell phone to take pictures. If he took the papers, Bobby would know and try to stop him. This way was better.

Sam then put everything back where it had been and turned the light back off. He exited the house and put his gear in the Impala. Wanting to avoid raising any alarm with Bobby before morning, Sam put the car in neutral and pushed it out to the end if the drive and to the street.

He looked at the sign proclaiming it to being Singer's Auto Salvage. He felt a small twinge of guilt. "Sorry, Bobby. I've got work to do." Sam got into the car, started the engine and pulled away into the night.


Part 2

Rawlings, Wyoming,

Two weeks later.

Sam sat on the bed in a dingy unimaginative motel room cleaning his weapons. He'd tacked up the blown up photos he'd taken of the papers at Bobby's on the walls. More prints from the internet and photocopies adorned the walls as well.

Sam had been through all the information a couple of dozen times. He figured that by now he could recreate every scrap of information in his sleep. But nothing there told him how else the Gate could be opened. All the material pointed to needing the Colt. Which he didn't have.

He'd tried to make a cast of the hole. He'd used iron from the surrounding rails in the forgery. Nothing. He'd even gotten a hold of another Colt of the same make and tried carving the same markings Bobby had notated from the original, but it was a no-go. Whatever charms Samuel Colt had placed on the weapon were unknown but apparently very necessary to opening the Gate. It was either the real Colt or nothing at all.

It's taking too long. Dean…well, Dean's body didn't have much time. Not if he wanted to get Dean home as he'd promised them both in his heart. Dean is just on the other side of that damned gate and I can't get to him. Sam struggled to even out his now ragged breaths. He had to keep calm, he had to stay cool. If he didn't he'd never find a way to get his brother back.

Sam had also tried putting out feelers in the hopes that Bela had sold the Colt and not just handed it over to Lillith, but no such luck. After Bela, the trail went ice cold.

Sam's cell phone went off shrilly in the quiet of the room. Sam set the gun down and pulled out the phone to check the caller ID.

Bobby. You'd think after not answering all this time he'd give up, but obviously not. I guess it's time to do something about this before he figures out how GPS works. Sam made a mental note to change the cell number and account name. He picked up the gun and continued the maintenance on it he'd started.

There was no way to put it off. He had to check out other possibilities of getting Dean back. Not that there was a lot to choose from. He could try making his own deal, but he'd have to track some higher level demon down. The last one he'd seen, other than Lillith, had been the Crossroads Demon and he'd blown it away in anger. He should have done a deal with her instead, but hindsight was always twenty-twenty.

Not to mention that Dean would have had his ass in a sling. But given the current situation, he could have lived with that. Much easier than the world he lived in now.

Was there anything else he could think of to try? Sam racked his brains but kept coming up empty.

Sam finished cleaning the Glock and set it down. He picked up his shotgun and checked the action on it. As he worked he continued to think.

Damn. Even that cursed rabbit's foot could have been a help right now if it hadn't been for Bela. Sam stopped. The rabbit's foot. His father's storage space was filled with objects and notes. Maybe there was something to be found there. Yeah, it was time to take a trip to New York. But in the meantime, he'd check about summoning spells.


Black Rock, New York,

Three weeks later

Sam hadn't bothered with getting a motel. He'd parked the Impala in a long term lot two blocks away and had for all intents and purposes lived in the dusty, jammed storage room. He worked virtually around the clock going through all the various notes and files his father had left behind with only the occasional outing to a nearby diner and coffee shop.

After going through all the records and objects with a fine toothed comb, he'd only made one discovery. When it came to information on the supernatural, his father, Mr. It Had Better All Fit In One Duffle Bag, was a fucking packrat. At any other time in his life, Sam would have been torn between amusement and astonishment. Right now, it was irritation. Either the two idiots that had broken in last year had done more than just grab the box or his father's filing system was crap. Option two was the heavy favorite.

It had taken Sam two weeks just to get things sorted into some semblance of order. This past week he'd gone through everything. Everything. No dice. The only thing that could have helped remotely had been the rabbit's foot. Which was history.

Panic was beginning to worm its way into Sam's mind. It had woken him up the few times he'd actually been able to sleep. Seeing Dean's amulet in the mirror gave him chest pains. Sam knew he was fast running out of options. The only one left was a deal. Sam for Dean. Ruby's knife, too if necessary. Sam was to the point that he knew he'd give then what ever they wanted. Without protest or question. He just had to find a demon, now.

I'm sorry, Dean. I tried, but there isn't any other way. And I can't just leave you there. Not you. You never did anything to deserve that. Never. And I'll give whatever they want to get you out.


Sanford, Michigan

August 11, 2008

It took Sam five towns and almost a dozen executions with Ruby's knife to find out that the Crossroads Demon was a classification and not specific name to only one demon. It turned out that Sam hadn't actually been the first to waste one in anger or despair over a done deal.

So here it was, almost three months after he'd lost his brother that Sam stood at a dark, deserted crossroads. He started at the open box he held in his hands that contained his Stanford student ID on the top. It's not like I'm gonna need that ever again. He abruptly closed the box and dug a small hole at the center of the intersection. He placed the closed box in the hole and covered it up. Then he waited. It didn't take long.

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me."

Sam spun around at the feminine voice. A voluptuous red headed woman in a black tube top and mini skirt stared at him, fear and shock warring over her youthful features.

"What ever you want, the answer's 'no.'"

Sam stood rock still and blinked once. "What?"

"No deals for the young Winchester, the heir apparent. The higher ups were pretty clear about that. Go away. I can't help you." She turned to leave.

Sam lunged and grabbed her upper left arm and spun her back to face him. "I haven't even asked anything. Yet."

"Doesn't matter. Read my lips: No deals for you, Sam Winchester. Now let me go." The command would have been more impressive has her eyes not been rounded in fear.

"Why?" Sam's voice was as sharp and dangerous as broken glass.

"Because my boss…and his boss…said no. I don't dare cross them."

"If you don't, I'll kill you."

"Honey, there's nothing in the universe worse than the pit. Your brother would tell you that. If he could. Between screams. Or whatever those noises are that he makes."

Sam's grip on her upper arm tightened to a crushing force as he struggled to maintain his calm. It was the same as all the other demons. They'd rather not exist than deal.

"Let's try this again. You're a demon that deals in human souls, right? I want to do a deal with you for mine. Why would you turn that down?" Sam's now mild voice was belied by the coldness in his eyes.

"I can't tell you. So either cut me loose or kill me 'cause honey, your brother's not coming back from there. Ever."

Sam's desperation changed like lightning into red hot rage. He lifted his free hand, intending to grab her throat.

Before his hand made contact, the demon began to choke violently. Black smoke started to spill from her mouth as she bent over, vomiting.

Sam stopped and stared in shock. The smoke stopped its exodus and returned to the host body. It was a toss up as to who was more shocked, him or the demon. She now stared at him like he was John Wayne Gacy in full clown regalia, holding a dagger dripping blood. Sam took a step closer to her.

At that movement, her head tilted back and a huge cloud of black smoke belched out into the night air and the demon made a hasty exit, stage right, leaving its host behind.

The girl's body dropped like a marionette whose strings had been sheared and Sam caught her before she hit the ground by reflex. Carefully he laid her on the ground and checked for a pulse. He was unsurprised when he failed to find one.

What the hell had just happened? Sam rocked back on his heels. Was that why there was no deal for him? Was that why he couldn't get Dean back? Even over a year dead, that yellow-eyed son-of-a-bitch had still managed to destroy the only important thing in his life.

Sam dug back up the box and flung it in the trunk of the Impala and slammed the trunk closed. He threw himself into the driver's seat and peeled off, speed being the outlet for his rage.

He tried to get a rein on his anger. Stop it. Stop it. This wasn't going to help Dean, so just stop it! He was still repeating a variation of that when he pulled up to the motel he was staying at thirty minutes later.

He got out of the car, barely restraining himself from slamming the door and stalked over to the motel room door, fished out the room key from his right pants pocket and let himself into the room.

Familiar strains of an R.E.M. song filled the small room. He'd left before the clock radio alarm had gone off, his reminder to get to the crossroads, and it was still going off, heedless of the fact it wasn't needed anymore.

"It's the end of the world as we know it. It's the end of the world as we know it. It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine."

Sam saw red. Heavy, cloying blood red, as if some invisible matador had draped a cape in front of his eyes. He reached over, ripped the clock alarm from the bedside stand and neighboring plug and threw it at the far wall where it exploded into several pieces.

It's not over until I say it's fucking over. It's not over until I get Dean back.

The lamp followed the clock to the other side of the room. The bedside table and chairs likewise became airborne. He ripped the notes and pictures from the walls, destroying the evidence of his failure. For a finale, he put his fist through the wall separating the bedroom from the bathroom.

I haven't done it. I can't do it. I can't get him back.

Sam slid down the wall and huddled into a ball, all the fear, guilt and loneliness spilling out as he wept bitter tears.

Dean was never coming back. I failed. I failed him. I've lost him forever. The one person I owe everything that I've ever had everything that I've ever been to and I couldn't help him when it mattered most.

Sam rocked back and forth as he continued to grieve for his lost brother. As the raw pain gradually abated, Sam laid limply on the floor, his scattered thoughts slowly calming.

"What am I suppose to do? What do I do without you?" he whispered to himself.

Saving People. Hunting things. The family business.

Could he do that? No… Go back to hunting? Just himself? It was something that, even to the end, Dean believed in doing.

Remember what I taught you.

Sam sat up abruptly. That was what Dean had taught him. Dad had taught him the basics of how to do the job, but Dean had taught him why. Helping other people. Back after he'd lost Jess, it had actually helped him to help others. He'd forgotten that in the wakes of his father's and Dean's deals. The best way he could remember his brother was to do that.

This he could do for Dean.


Maybe, Iowa

August 29, 2008

Sam walked around the Devil's Trap containing one severely annoyed demon housed in a middle-aged housewife. He'd lured it down to an abandoned barn just outside of town where he'd had the symbol already prepared and hidden.

This would make his fourth exorcism since he'd hit town yesterday. Who'd have thought that such a tiny community in Iowa was such a hotbed of demonic activity?

The traps and exorcisms were what he'd been concentrating on since his depressing epiphany of a few weeks ago. There was still a war going on; a war humanity was poorly equipped to fight as things stood.

He had to do something about the demons that had been loosed on the world when the Gate had opened. And, if he were honest, it afforded him ample time to hunt down Lillith from whatever rock she'd seemingly crawled under. Revenge and justice were also a part of the family business. Mess with a Winchester and prepare to be hunted to the ends of the Earth. Unfortunately, he'd had little luck in that department as of yet, but he knew how to be patient.

Right now, he had a job to do.

"Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus…"

Twice more since the night at the crossroads, he'd been able to pull part of the demon from its host. Actually, he had no idea of what to do if he'd ever actually managed to pull one out completely.

"Ut inimicos sanctae Ecclesiae humiliare digneris, te rogamus, audi nos."

Sam paused and considered the groaning demon within the circle. "So, have you heard of her yet?"

The demon sent a killing look at Sam. "I…I don't talk to meat."

Sam just shook his head and continued the exorcism. The big finish came and demon smoke funneled out of the woman's mouth and vanished into the dirt, presumably back into hell.

He moved into the circle and checked the woman for signs of life.

"Damn."

Saddened, he rocked back on his heels. It seemed like only one out of every seven persons or so managed to survive being possessed. Since he'd been in town he was batting oh for four. He sighed. The only thing to do now was make sure he hadn't left any prints—his or the Impala's—and call in an anonymous tip on a dead body. He grimaced. From a few states away.

He rose up to his feet start 'house cleaning' and felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. He kept his breathing even and his movements natural and seemingly unguarded so as not to alert his watcher. Let it think it's got the upper hand. And it was an 'it.' He'd become pretty good and feeing demonic presences.

He snorted softly. For a town of 500 or so, this had to be some kind of record.

He let it get closer as he kept his back to it and shut his eyes and concentrated. Just as it got within striking distance—his, not its—he turned abruptly, one had out and thought, PULL as the fingers of his hand curled.

Familiar black smoke erupted from the young brunette's mouth as she coughed and choked. Then he felt the wisps get away from him and opened his eyes to see the smoke reenter the girl's body.

Sam recovered first, grabbed her by the upper arms, lifted and then plunked her down in the middle of the already occupied Devil's Trap behind him. He stepped back and waited.

The demon girl continued to choke and cough for another minute. She stopped and stared at the trap then looked up at him with a wry smile on her face and a mixture of satisfaction and irritation in her eyes. "Well, well, look whose psychic's block is gone. Nice start, but your follow-up's crap."

Sam narrowed his eyes at her. Something was familiar about her. He had it.

"Ruby?"

"In the flesh. Or rather, Christie's flesh." She looked Sam squarely in the eyes all traces of humor and mocking gone. "I'm sorry, Sam. I'm truly sorry about how things went down. I had no idea she could toss me out of my host so easily, but then I guess that's why she got the big bucks."

Sam nodded.

"And I'm sorry about Dean. I meant what I said before. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."

Sam swallowed hard and nodded again and asked quietly, "there's no way to get him back now that he's gone, is there?"

"No," she replied softly, "once you're down there, it's for the long haul. I'm sorry."

"Yeah." So am I. "How'd you find me?" he asked abruptly changing the subject.

"It was easy once you started doing the exorcisms. I just followed the body count."

Sam winced at that. Every person he couldn't save ate at his already abused conscience. But he also knew from personal experience he'd rather be dead than possessed. Again.

"Um, Sam? I don't suppose you could let me out of here, could you? I'd hate to have to bring the barn down on our heads."

"Oh, yeah." Sam walked forward and scuffed a break in the line with his foot and then backed up again.

Ruby walked out of the trap and looked his tall frame up and down with a measuring look.

"You ready to learn how to control your power now?" She asked, arching one eyebrow.

"Yeah. I'm ready. Let's go."


Pontiac, Illinois

September 19, 2008

Sam was tired. He and Ruby had been tracking a group of demons in Tennessee yesterday when the group had suddenly fled north. The trail they'd left ended in Pontiac, Illinois, where he'd buried his brother four months before.

Sam and Ruby had looked high and low in the town but had been unable to locate their quarry. Somewhere near dawn they'd decided to shower and catch some sleep before starting out again.

The Astoria Hotel where they were staying catered to a certain class of clientele: those who wanted anonymity. As Sam was trying to stay under the radar for virtually the entire human race these days, he figured staying here was a good bet. The rates were cheap and nobody who knew him would ever dream of looking for him there.

Sam has just gotten out of the shower when a knock sounded at the door. He looked at Ruby who lifted an eyebrow at him. He nodded in return and he picked up his knife from the sink.

They'd worked out a system for this kind of thing after they'd been surprised once by a demon in a sumo wrestler barging in. Ruby was to answer the door as she could tell faster if the body was a person or a demon's suit. She'd distract and Sam would then calmly walk up for the kill once Ruby got out of the way. After he'd almost pulled her out in a two-for-one deal in Ohio, they'd both been a bit more careful about her proximity to the targets now.

"So where is it?" she asked.

Ruby telling him there was no demon in sight.

"Where's what?" A muffled but familiar voice responded in confusion.

"The pizza that takes two guys to deliver?" she expounded.

Two men at the door. That was his queue.

"I think we got the wrong room," the same male voice answered.

Sam came out from his spot out of sight of the door acting casually. "Hey is…" Sam turned his head and froze. It couldn't be. Dean? Sam shifted his attention briefly to the other man in the door…Bobby. Is it…is he…?

"Hiya, Sammy."

God, it was Dean's voice, the one he'd use when he was unsure of his welcome, a little sad. Sam started to get lightheaded as he edged towards hyperventilating, breathing the name that had never been completely out of his thoughts inaudibly, "Dean."

It's not him. It can't be him. Nobody comes back from the pit. Not after four months and not in their own body. What the hell was wearing Dean's face? Sam tightened his grip on his knife as Dean—no IT—walked slowly towards him. In his fury at the imposter, Sam moved too soon, pulling out the knife, just wanting to kill the thing tormenting him.

It blocked him, exactly as Sam and Dean had both been taught by their father. Someone grabbed him, pulling him off the thing that was wearing his brother's body.

"Who are you?!" I want to know what I'm going to kill. And who sent you.

"What, you didn't do this?" It asked accusingly, eerily Dean-like.

"Do what?!" When? Sam struggled to get free from the restraining hands.

"It's him. It's him, Sam."

Bobby's holding me? What's that he saying?

"I've been through this already, it's really him," Bobby said.

It's really him? Sam stopped struggling against the older man's restraint. It's Dean? Oh, God, how? "But…"

"I know, I look fantastic, huh?" Dean slowly, cautiously walked towards him.

Sam's eyes filled and he found himself released from Bobby's grip. He walked forward to meet his brother. Sam grabbed him into a fierce hug, trying not to break into what he feared would be far too many pieces to put back together. He felt his brother return the embrace, no questions and no jokes. After a few moments, he released Dean and pushed back to look at him.

"So, are you two like…together?" Ruby asked seemingly nervous from several feet away.

"What?" Oh, shit. Ruby. I forgot about Ruby. "No, no. He's my brother." Yeah, I'm sure it's Dean.

"Uh, got it, I-I guess. Look, I should probably go."

"Yeah, that's probably a good idea. Sorry." No, I'm not sorry. I can't be sorry for this. I've got my brother back. I don't care how, I don't care why.

I'm not letting go of him again.

End.