Title: Mending Crumbled Bridges

Summary: Tag to 4x07. My take on what happened at the end with Sam and Samhain. Limp Sam and Protective Dean added.

Disclaimer: Sadly, don't own Supernatural.

Many thanks to Jess for checking things over and Kristen for her support and encouragement!

The next thing he knew, he was staring into the eyes that were a cold mixture of blue and grey. Sam grunted as a strong hand wrapped around his throat and squeezed. He felt himself being lifted; the pressure on his throat making him choke.

With his best effort, Sam pulled out the knife from the sheath hanging on his belt and attempted to swipe Samhain's arm away from his throat. The sharp edge of the knife sliced his clothing and shallowly hit flesh as orange sparks of light danced. Samhain looked at his arm, rage written across the lines on his face as withdrew his arm and seized Sam's collar of his jacket.

The knife fell out of Sam's grip and he barely had time to fill his lungs with fresh air before he flew across the room and his back met with something solid. He fell to the ground painfully; the breath knocked out of him and landed on his side with a grunt of discomfort. He wasted precious seconds filling his lungs with oxygen before quickly flipping himself onto his back.

He heard footsteps pounding towards him and just hoped that Samhain was further away than he sounded, but it wasn't Sam's lucky day today. He raised his head to lock eyes with the demon who charged at him with deadly eyes. He placed his palms faced down on the floor and lifted himself up, his right foot tensing to aim and strike at Samhain's midsection.

But Sam was just a moment too late.

He had miscalculated the distance between himself and Samhain when he had kicked, but the tip of his foot caught Samhain's hip which caused him to lose his balance as a violent kick was sent Sam's way.

Sam's head snapped back, his back once again colliding with the wall behind him as a boot came to land right under his chin. Blood filled his mouth as his teeth clamped together at the sudden impact. If it weren't for the kick that sent Samhain off balance, he would probably have broken Sam's neck.

Specks of blood leaked from his mouth as he coughed and rubbed his throat that was hot to touch. The same, burly hand grasped his hair as Samhain pulled his enemy's head back and Sam feared for the worst. Pain glazed eyes squinted into one of a cold demon as he whispered silent apologies to Dean. The position Sam was in strained his injured throat, like the intense heat of flames licking and scorching it.

"What are you?" Samhain growled and grasped Sam's jaw with his other hand.

He heard frantic footsteps in the background, but Sam couldn't break eye contact with the demon.

"Sam!" He heard Dean call his name and saw Samhain twist his face to welcome his new challenge with a cruel smile. Sam followed his gaze and saw the worried and scared eyes on his brother's face; the very same ones that forever marred his memory on the day the hellhounds came for him.

He opened his mouth to yell for him to run, to warn Dean, to tell him so many things, but Samhain turned back to him, wearing that same twisted smile and slammed his head down on the ground once and once more. Darkness engulfed Sam and he barely even felt any pain.

-

Dean finished with the last of the undead and sprinted to where Sam had disappeared to. Finding his way, he saw a room where two figures were crowded together and he froze. Sam looked terrible, bearing the burden in his eyes of being alone and resigned.

Big brother instincts took over as he yelled across the room.

"Sam!" He had to let Sam know that he wasn't alone anymore; that there were two of them in the battle.

Their faces turned to look at him; their eyes locking. Samhain's pinned him down whereas Sam's eyes showed nothing but raw affection. And pain.

Dean winced as Samhain slammed Sam's head on the ground, his legs already running towards the discarded knife on the ground. Grasping it in his hand, he turned to Samhain. He would pay for hurting his brother, Dean vowed silently to himself.

Dean smirked. "Can't risk doing your freaky Yoda white light shit." Their eyes were on each other, like predator's eyes on prey. Samhain was stalking closer and closer to Dean, forgetting about Sam who lay unconscious by the side.

"Because I've got this beauty here. And if this," He held Ruby's knife so it pointed in the direction of Samhain's face, "Goes through that neck of yours, you die."

Dean swallowed the lump in his throat. This was bad. The outcome was going to be unimaginable. No hunter has ever faced something like this before, certainly not by themselves without backup. Sam was and remained a still figure in Dean's peripheral vision, and he was growing quite anxious to see some movement coming from his little brother.

Dean focused on Samhain, his palms were slightly slick with sweat as he meticulously studied his opponent. He seized his knife even more tightly in his hand and bit his lip. Dean pounced like a cougar, his knife raised with the point aiming accurately straight towards Samhain's neck.

The point of his knife nearly reached, if it wasn't for the fingers that curled around his wrist to stop the descent. Dean wriggled his arm, but Samhain's grip was strong. He readjusted the grip he had on the knife so the tip of it pointed straight down, inches from meeting with the demon's wrist.

Samhain swung his arm like a single swing of a pendulum and sent Dean flying across the room; the knife flying the opposite way. Dean hit the floor with a thud and stayed here, recovering from the sudden attack. Getting pinned on walls by demons weren't something new to him, but the strength in this demon was nothing compared to the regular black eyed demons they were used to seeing.

Dean grunted and spotted his knife on the other side of the room. There was no way he could miraculously run past Samhain, grasp the knife and plunge it in that son of a bitch's neck. Dean glanced at Sam. Even if his brother was conscious, the knife was too far from him to be able to get it without causing attention.

They were screwed either way. Samhain was going to finish him off, then kill Sam.

The demon caught sight of Dean eyeing the knife, and with a small flick of his hand the knife skittered out of the room and into the hallway where they had come in through. Dean's hopes plummeted but he tried not to show it.

Samhain picked Dean up by his shirt and lifted him slightly off his feet so they were level with each other. Dean tensed and tried to convey as much hatred into his glare, trying to dissipate as much fear in those eyes as possible.

His heart fluttered along with his chest as it constricted as he noticed Sam arch his back in attempt to rise.

The demon held his hand out and smiled humorlessly. Dean couldn't find the heart to smile back in a rude manner like he normally would. He came back from Hell and now Samhain was sending him straight back. The flashes and memories of Hell were all too raw for him to experience it in the flesh again.

Dean's heart rate sped up. He didn't want to look Sam in the eye so his little brother would see the life squeeze out of his eyes for the second time in his life.

All of a sudden, Samhain's body jolted forward as if had been shot. Dean was let go as he stumbled, holding a hand out to support himself and keep him from falling. He had been too busy thinking about Hell that he didn't even realize Sam had gotten on his feet and was now pulling off a freaky Yoda show.

Sam looked like what Dean was killing mere seconds ago; a stream of blood trailing down his face and a small rivulet of crimson stained his lips. His extended arm trembled, his face scrunched up in pain and effort. Samhain's eyes were wide and terrified, his whole body rigid as if he was a marionette and the strings attached to him were wooden.

With small, heavy steps he turned around and faced Sam.

Sam's arm shook, obviously draining his remaining energy and it hurt Dean to see him like that. It made him wonder for the smallest fraction of a second if this was what he had to go through by himself. He promised that he would ask Sam about it later; for them to open up to each other.

Dean took a step forward, not knowing what to do. In all honesty, he knew that if Sam hadn't used his powers then they would both be dead; the floor of the room would have been painted with their blood.

Samhain struggled and his limbs wavered with strain as he tried to take a step forward.

"Sam! The knife!"

Sam broke eye contact with Samhain and briefly locked his eyes with Dean and in that moment, Samhain was free. He growled, enraged and dashed towards Sam like a bullet train. He closed the majority of the distance between the two of them but Sam pinned Samhain down with a glare as he spread his fingers out in mid air again.

Dean's heart skipped a beat. Samhain was dangerously close to his brother now, and if he distracted Sam one more time then the demon would most likely kill him.

"Sam…" He whispered, not knowing what to do. The knife was somewhere that wasn't in this room, but leaving Sam alone with that monster wasn't an option either.

Sam's arms trembled with greater ferocity, his eyes squinted and his face contorted. Dean somehow doubted that it was from the injuries he had passed out from.

A small puff of black smoke started rising from Samhain's mouth. Dean stood in awe as he watched on silently; numb from the shock that Sam could exorcise such a powerful demon.

More and more black smoke came out, but Sam's condition was deteriorating. Blood crept down from his nose and fell over his lips and with his free hand, he raised it to his pounding head. His eyes were reduced to slits, his face pinched in unbearable pain as if suffering from a horrible vision.

Dean winced, not even beginning to imagine the pain that Sam must be going through and took a step forward, wanting to help. He instantly remembered what happened last time he tried to interfere, and calmed his decision quickly.

Samhain tried to take another step forward, his shoulders hunching along with the strength that was leaving his body. Finally, the last of the smoke left his body and he dropped to the floor soundlessly, his body sprawled across the ground.

Blood trailed down past Sam's chin as he dropped his hand like it weighed as heavy as lead. He swallowed and panted, sounding like he hadn't once breathed during the exorcism. The other hand was still on his head, his face now pain filled and tired.

Dean stood speechless, looking at Sam, but Sam couldn't return the gaze. Instead, he dropped like a house of cards and crumbled onto the floor next to the body that was Samhain.

Dean finally realized how to work his limbs and his voice when he ran over to his brother's side, screaming Sam's name. He dropped to the floor and checked for a pulse; relieved to find one. He cupped Sam's face in his hands, lifting it up to his eyes.

"Sam?" He whispered gently. "Sammy?" Dean winced. He just realized that it had been a while since he'd called Sam that. The gap between them just kept getting wider and wider, and no bridges seemed to be building. Bridges don't build by themselves, he told himself accusingly. Dean bit his lip and pushed all his thoughts at the back of his mind.

"Sammy? Great job you did back there, think you can wake up for me now? It's Halloween; I'll give you some candy for it."

No response.

"Sam?"

Silence.

"You're gonna have to make me do this the hard way aren't yah?" Dean looked at his brother and smiled. No one could ask for a better brother; someone who was that dedicated and loved without questions, even if they were tainted with demon blood.

Dean hoisted Sam onto his shoulder, careful not to unnecessarily touch any injuries as he carried Sam out of the building. Seeing Ruby's knife along the way, he bent down and retrieved it, balancing Sam on his shoulder.

He reached the Impala and opened the door to the passenger seat. He knelt down on the pavement and placed Sam on the seat, noticing the dark bags under Sam's eyes and how his cheekbones were more pronounced. He had definitely lost weight.

Driving back to the motel was painfully silent, the handle of Ruby's knife jabbed against his hip reminding him that he was still alive. Alive and happy, with a duty that he needed to fulfill.

To mend the gaps between him and his brother. To get things sorted out. Tonight had been too close, and Dean wasn't ever going to let it get that far.

-

Dean's shoulders were stiff and his lips were a thin, tight line of pink. Every minute that Sam lay unconscious was a minute that Dean got more worried. He had already cleaned most of the blood away from Sam's face and stitched up the nasty cut above his eyebrow. His throat would have swelled if not for the ice pack that was fighting to maintain its size.

He glanced over at Sam who was unconscious on the motel bed; really looked at him for the first time ever since he came back. His little brother looked different to the one five months ago. Muscles outlined his figure and Dean didn't need to see those eyes to know how haunted and lonely they looked. He knew that Sam had been through a lot, had seen more things because he had to fight by himself.

Dean had dedicated so much time into protecting Sam, which was why a heavy feeling hung inside his heart. He knew that Sam needed someone to talk to, especially when he had returned from Hell. He knew, but yet he didn't acknowledge. He put other things in front of his brother, forgotten that it was Sam who had been on Earth alone all along.

To see Sam lose faith in something that had kept him going as a small child was like seeing Sam lose the last of his precious innocence. Dean urged for Sam to believe that not all angels were like Uriel and Castiel; that Sam hadn't wasted any time in praying.

Dean rubbed his tired eyes. He also knew that if it weren't for Sam tonight, then they both wouldn't be here. Even though Sam had promised that he wouldn't use his powers; Dean could understand why he'd used them tonight. He once promised Sam several times that nothing bad was going to happen to him as long as Dean was around. But that didn't stay true. Every type of bad has happened to Sam, and he was still on a path that made him vulnerable.

Dean leaned forward on his chair and rested his chin in the palm of his hand. He has had enough of the silence and even if he was going to turn into a brother who started a chick flick, then so be it. He'd rather listen to forever lasting light insults coming from his brother in the Impala than one who was afraid to speak up about how he truly felt.

-

Sam's head pounded and his face hurt. His body started to tense but then he sensed familiar surroundings. He felt a presence near him, someone that had been missing from his life for too long and that was enough to force his leaden eyes to open.

His vision was blurry at first and he moved his head slowly, trying to focus on something. Pain flared in his head as he groaned.

"Dean?" He mumbled under his breath.

The motel started forming and the blur was soon fading away. He blinked his eyes as Dean hovered over him.

"Does it hurt?" He asked gently.

Sam's mouth was dry so all he did was nod.

"Where?"

"Head." He mumbled again. "Face."

Dean disappeared from his line of sight for a while and returned with pain killers in his hand and a glass of water in the other. He offered them to Sam and helped him sit up to take them.

"Keep that ice on your throat. It'll help with the swelling."

Sam eased himself back on the bed and closed his eyes for a second.

Dean took a breath. "You remember what happened?"

There was a beat of silence, and Dean grew worried.

"Kinda hard not to." Sam replied, his voice raw and scratchy. "I'm sorry."

Dean bit his lip. Sam was sorry because he had used his powers to save their lives. Sam was sorry because he broke his promise to Dean. Sam was always sorry, because Dean was always pressing.

"Sam," He sighed. He didn't know how to say this. "You have nothing to be sorry about."

Sam opened his eyes, uncertain that he had heard correctly.

"If it weren't for you, I'd be back in Hell and you'd be…"

"Dead." Sam finished off for him.

Dean winced and looked at Sam. His brother wouldn't look back at him; his eyes were fixed on the ceiling.

"Maybe that'd be the only thing I'd rightfully achieve if I hadn't used my powers. It would never end well with someone like me anyway. I have tainted demon blood in my bloodstream, Dean." Sam's voice was soft and defeated.

"No, Sam-" Dean growled.

"I did it to save you." He cut Dean off. "I couldn't bear the fact of you going back to…"

"Sammy, listen to me." Dean rose from his chair to sit beside Sam on the bed. "You broke your promise and we're both alive and breathing and I am grateful for that. You're my brother, Sam. You saved the both of us. You saved the whole town!"

"In exchange for something I swore I'd never do again."

"It doesn't matter. I would have done the same thing if I were you."

Sam's eyes met his and Dean nearly broke.

"Have some faith, Sammy. You dedicate time to praying, man. Something good must come out of that. Trust me, it won't end badly."

Sam stayed silent but he hoisted himself up and rearranged his pillow so he sat upright and facing Dean who was still sitting on the same bed. Sam's hand still held the ice pack that was on his throat.

A moment of silence passed.

"Hey Sammy?"

"Yeah?"

"Does that always happen to you? I mean, with the headache and your nose bleeding?"

Sam swallowed. He knew talking about his powers were a touchy subject for his brother. "Several times at first, but then it stopped. Probably because I never usually exorcise strong demons like Samhain."

Dean nodded and patted Sam's knee. "You did good, kiddo. I'm proud of yah."

Sam breathed a laugh and shook his head amusingly. "Thanks."

And for the first time in a long time, Dean looked. He looked and was pleased with what he saw. Sam's eyes sparkled with renewed life. The loneliness and the pain he had to carry by himself faded little by little; replaced by hope and still the very same innocence of the eyes Dean looked into when Sam was eight years old.

"I think that was the biggest chick flick moment, Dean. And you started it." He teased.

"Yeah well, just figured you needed someone to talk to." It was said in a light tone, but Dean meant it.

And Sam understood.

"I did. You were the only one who understood me and without you, I…" Sam stopped, not knowing what to say.

"I know, Sam." Dean's eyes were patient and understanding, like they always have been. And it was these eyes that took their place in Sam's memory, replacing the terrified shock filled ones on Dean's last day.

It wasn't okay yet. Dean needed to say one last thing.

"Hey Sam?"

"What now?" He joked with a smile.

"I am sorry, you know. For what I said…"

And this time, Sam didn't shrug it away or shut Dean out.

"Thanks, Dean. It's good to know you're back."

And Dean knew he didn't simply mean back from Hell.

"It won't end badly. Not as long as I'm around." It was a promise that Dean was going to do his best to keep. He wasn't there for Sam before, but he could be starting from now.

He saw Sam nod and knew he must have treasured those words and stored them in his heart. Something he knew Sam always did.

Sam tried his best not to laugh as he looked out the window.

"Thanks, but uh," He snorted. "It looks like Astronaut's gonna strike again."

Dean's face was priceless as his head whipped to the window. The Impala sat outside shining in the Sun. There was not one stain of egg on the roof or bonnet of the car due to Dean spending an hour cleaning it all off.

A little chubby astronaut kid suspiciously peeped around, edging closer to the black beauty. His fingers curled around the handle of a basket that no doubt held a dozen of eggs.

"Astronaut!" Dean roared for the second time that day.

When the first egg hit the car, Dean was already out the door of the motel room where laughter could be heard.

And even though Sam's head still pounded in the background like a fly buzzing around, he laughed even harder when Dean came into the motel room with egg shells crumbling from his leather jacket and jeans that were stained an ugly yellow.

-end-

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