A/N: Tag to 4.04 "Metamorphosis" and 4.08 "Wishful Thinking."

Disclaimer: Inspired by a poem by T.S. Eliot (which is where the title comes from). I don't own the poem or Supernatural. Also, I have NOT seen 4.10 yet (for some really odd reasons that would take awhile to explain), so I have no idea if this really fits anymore. But my beta, zookitty, looked this over and didn't mention anything like that, so I think I'm good. Mega-thanks to her for making sure this is good enough to post. As always, feedback is appreciated.

If I don't post again, I hope you all have a very merry Christmas!

"Remember us – if at all – not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men."
- T. S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men"

"I can't keep explaining myself to you. I can't make you understand… this thing, this blood – it's not in you the way it's in me."
- Sam Winchester, Metamorphosis

"The things I saw? There aren't words. There is no forgetting. There's no making it better… You wouldn't understand. And I can never make you understand."
- Dean Winchester, "Wishful Thinking"


They walk on eggshells around each other. Sure, to the outside world they're still in sync, still on the same wavelength. But they're really not. They may still move together, may react the same to certain situations, but that's because their bodies have been conditioned to do that since childhood. They can do that without thought.

In reality, they've never been farther apart. Not during Stanford; not after Stanford. Not before John's death; not after John's death. Not before Cold Oak; not after Cold Oak. Those were struggles, dry spells, awkward times, but at their core they were still united.

But that was then. That was them.

Now it's just After. After the deal. After Lillith. After their world, haphazard as it was, came crashing down. After Dean went through Hell. After Sam went through Hell on earth.

After they lost that deep connection, that innate thing that made them DeanandSam. Now they're just Dean and Sam – two completely different people who share parents, some memories, and breathing space.

It's not that they aren't trying – quite the opposite, in fact. Both of them are feeling hollow, empty – like a piece of them is missing. Because a piece of them is missing. It was second nature to know what the other was thinking, what the other was feeling. Even when things were strained between them, they knew that those problems didn't matter in the end because they were brothers – they were DeanandSam, and nothing could break that.

But then something did. Now they're pretending to be something they aren't – united. And both of them want nothing more than to have that connection again.

No, it's not that they aren't trying – it's just that they can't do it.

There's too much distance between them – the distance between Heaven and Hell, or maybe just Hell and Hell. They've both felt the isolation Hell brings. They're still feeling it.

It's insurmountable, this distance. It's like trying to swim the English Channel without breathing; like pushing a mountain to the ground with just their bare hands. They're both too different because of the After. They've changed to the point where they can't understand the other anymore.

But they'll still try. That's all they've ever been able to do; that's all they can do now. It may be impossible, but they've been doing the impossible since Sam was six months old and Dean was little more than a toddler. They've fought the unimaginable, achieved the inconceivable – even going so far as returning from the dead. It may be a long shot, an impossible shot, but there's still a chance to be what they were before the After. It's because of that they'll keep trying.

After all, the impossible is all they know how to do. And DeanandSam is all they know how to be.