Too Far From Where We Once Belonged.

S s S s S

"Demons I get. People are crazy." Dean, 'The Benders'

"Do you even know how far off the reservation you've gone? How far from normal, from human." Dean, 'Metamorphosis'

"Dude was a monster, Dean." Sam. "...humans, man." Dean, 'Family Remains'

S s S s S

A/N: Truth be told I'm not totally buying what Kripke's selling this season. And 'Family Remains' was not an episode that I hold dear. However, Dean said one word, uttered with such disdain that the ol' hamster wheel started spinning and I was forced to commit this fic.

Disclaimer: The above quotes and characters are the property of Mr. Eric Kripke, everything herein after belongs to him and his cohorts. Dagnabbit.

S s S s S

The blue glare from the television flickered across the otherwise unlit room. Bouncing off the walls, randomly illuminating the darkened corners and casting dancing shadows across the pale angles of Sam's face. Occasionally Dean would look up from screen but Sam did not move or glance in his direction. He sat cross legged on his bed, hands limply resting on his knees, his gaze fixed firmly into middle distance.

If he hadn't known better, in part because he had never caught Sam at it before, Dean would have sworn that his brother was meditating. Maybe it was a habit that Sam had picked up while Dean was suffering the agonies of the end result from his stupid crossroads deal.

Hell. Dean snorted in disgust, he had endured decades of pain and Sam had started meditating. Fucking pathetic.

It was getting tedious. Dean swiped irritably at the open packet of chips on the adjacent cushion and shoved a large handful into his mouth, crunching noisily and then crinkling the packet vigorously as he groped for his next helping. Sam did not stir, eyes lost to the dark, all else seemingly unseen and unheard. Dean snarled at the televison screen. Sam had barely managed more that two or three words since his broken confession. 'I tortured souls and I liked it.' Dean had expected a little more effort from Mr. Sensitive.

No more dewy eyed looks of concern or stuttering attempts to comfort him, Sam had leant against the passenger window, slumping away from the driver's seat and focused his attention on watching the world slipping past the car, as if he'd never seen it before. At first Dean was unconcerned at the lack of communication. He didn't want it; nothing Sam could say or do would relieve the ever present storm of guilt and painful desperation that raged within him. And when he did speak the words that fell from his mouth did their very best to remind Dean of what he had done and what had been done to him. The less said the better. 'It must have been hell', Sam had said of the life of the girl who lived in the walls. Dean had put him straight on that one.

At the motel they had sat together on the couch, both picking listlessly at the delivered Chinese takeout, Dean ramping up the volume and letting late night re-runs fill the silence between them. That was until he had glanced up to find Sam staring at him, head cocked, brows drawn, his face like a puzzled puppy oblivious to its owner's commands yet determined to please.

"Fuck off, Sam," he said blandly turning back to the television. Sam hadn't so much as blinked, rising smoothly from his spot beside Dean and settling on his bed, assuming his present position.

The studied silence was oppressive. Sam had certainly been a lot quieter than before. Before the hellhounds, before their tense reunion in another nameless fleapit, as witnessed by Bobby and that demon bitch Ruby, but this was different. Had his confession been too much for Sam? Was his brother overwhelmed with shock or worse, disgusted by Dean's soul baring? That wasn't Sam's M.O, but then, Dean admitted to himself with some reluctance, people change. Sam wasn't the same person any more and it wasn't as if it was his fault, it was just that Dean could help feeling that Sam hadn't really tried that hard to stop it.

Dean sighed as loudly as possible and upended the chip packet, tapping the foil to get the smallest salty remnants into his mouth. Two messy mouthfuls later he tossed the empty packet over the back of the couch and wiped a greasy mouth across the back of his hand. Now he really needed a cold beer.

Grunting he got to his feet and stopped. Sam was standing by his bed, watching him with an almost calculating gleam in his narrowed eyes. Dean felt a sudden chill crawl across his skin. Something was wrong and he couldn't help but acknowledge the tiny thrill of satisfaction that he felt. He had always known that Sam was in too deep, that despite his heartfelt denials his brother had long since gone off the rails. What had triggered Sam to reveal his secret, Dean couldn't guess. He wasn't afraid, surprisingly; in fact he relished the anticipation of a confrontation with his little brother. Of course, there was always the possibility that Sam had decided that his big brother deserved a beat down for his stint as one of Satan's unwilling minions, but Dean preferred to think not.

"What?" He growled, aiming for casual and landing somewhere near suspicious.

Sam bit at his top lip and shook his head. "Never could get anything by you, Dean. Sorry 'bout this but it won't last long, promise." Sam raised his arm, palm up; fingers splayed outward and closed his eyes.

What the fuck? Dean stared in horror at the familiar stance. No, no. This wasn't the game plan. He'd been half expecting Sam to go all yellow-eyed on his ass, or all righteous defender of what was good and proper. Unlikely, but with some people you never can tell. This, this was just stupid. Dean had checked, he was all Winchester, demon-free guaranteed. Angel approved warranty, no less.

He'd put a stop to this quickly enough. Stepping forward to knock some sense into his brother he couldn't help but gasp at the rush of charged air that rolled over him. The energy flowed over him, sweeping over his body, tingling across his skin and shocking his muscles into a painful paralysis. He couldn't move, his lungs seizing in his chest, electricity worming its way throughout his body, its fiery power pulsing into his bloodstream and pounding its way to his heart.

No, Sammy, the cry never making it to his frozen lips, his eyes locked on his brother. Sam was shaking with effort, perspiration pooling on his temples, his arm rigid and unfaltering.

It's going to take more than that to send me back to hell, Dean thought savagely. Think again little brother and without understanding how or why, he pushed, stoking his anger, his gut trembling at the wellspring of energy that was growing at his centre. His insides clenched and he pushed again with body and spirit. He could feel it, track the sensation of his own power. A bubble swelling up and radiating outward, a protective corona that expanded rapidly in the air around him.

Sam's eyes flew open. He flinched and after a couple of seconds he relaxed and dropped his hand, eyeing Dean with a thoughtful gaze. Dean found he could move again, his weak muscles protesting at their ordeal he fought to stay on his feet, bracing himself for Sam's next move.

Sam dragged in a deep breath and plopped down on his bed and ignoring Dean completely, started to laugh loudly apparently delighted at the recent proceedings. After a minute or so of helpless giggling he turned to Dean, who was clutching the back of the couch quivering with the effort of keeping upright, and with eyes bright laughed some more, arms wrapped across his stomach as he tried unsuccessfully to contain his mirth

"What the hell's so funny?" Dean yelled hoarsely, thoroughly confused and extremely annoyed. "Did you just try and exorcise me, you dick?" He gave up on standing and flopped across the couch.

Sam wiped his eyes and nodded, too choked with laughter to reply. His face twitched as he tried to compose himself.

"Yeah, hell boy. I tried," and he chuckled. "Not exactly an exorcism, though. Just testing a theory I have. You passed with flying colors by the way."

"What? What the fuck are you talking about, Sam. What did I do?" Dean glared across the room and tried to suppress the little voice inside that was telling him he knew damn well what he had just done.

"You tell me," Sam said cheerfully giving Dean a beatific smile, "You freak."