The Monster Is Really Suspicion

Disclaimer: I don't own SN, sadly.

This one came about after chatting with some friends the night the C.A.I.A.D epi aired. We all saw some foreshadowing and for some fun, as my friend loved the idea, I decied to see where I could take it. It's very angst heavy, be warned. I had no Beta, mistakes are mine.

It had all gotten out of control so fast. Dean had found him sneaking out again, using his powers. He'd tired to explain it to his brother. Why he had to do it and didn't he see the good things Sam could do this way? How he could help them end this nightmare their lives had become by stopping this war once and for all?

Dean hadn't wanted to listen. He'd been furious, coming at Sam like a bull in a china shop. He'd sucker punched him so hard Sam went down before having a chance to respond. It was then that Ruby had tried to come into the fray.

Dean had looked at her, lashed out and she went down. Colors spreading throughout her body, orange sparking. The demon knife in his hand wafting black smoke. He'd killed her with her own knife.

Sam could only stare in shock. He couldn't believe Dean had finally done it. He'd really killed her. Sam couldn't sort his emotions. He wasn't angry about her loss, he didn't really care so much about her as felt greatful to her for her help and for what she'd taught him. But he was angry for all she could have done. Things she could have taught him to help him stop this war, saving billions of lives. To help his brother. Who refused to see the logic in it all.

Sam rose angrily, teeth clenched and threw himself at his brother. They stumbled, roaring and rowing backward. He pushed Dean into the wall, let a fist fly. It connected with flesh, but Dean quickly shook it off and pushed out. Sam tumbled back, barely regaining his footing in time to block the assult coming at him in the form of his very pissed off older brother.


"How could you do it, Sam?" He was near blind with his anger. He'd trusted him, Sam had promised. Only for him to find him out with that bitch again? Using his powers after he'd sworn no more. It was like he couldn't stop himself. Like he'd become addicted to the power.

The suddend lurch in his chest told him he'd hit on the truth of it. He couldn't stop. He had become addicted to the power. It's why Cas had come asking Dean if he knew where his brother was. He'd known it had come to this. Sam was turning.

He felt his world tilt out from under him. He raised his eyes to see Sam, face contorted in anger, grappling with him. Trying to hurt him. Trying to defend what he'd become. It was too late. Dean couldn't save him anymore than he'd been able to stop him.

He felt hollow as he steeled himself for what he knew was to come. He didn't want to do this. There had to be another way. As Sam let out a grunt and charged him again, Dean felt his heart break. No there wasn't. Not anymore. He'd lost him. He'd lost Sam.

He reared up, parryed Sam's charge and countered with his own. Knife firmly in hand, he got ready to make his move.


They were fighting all out. Sam was fighting his brother and trying to push him away, giving as good as he got. Darn it, if he had to he'd beat him blue until he'd listen, Sam would make him understand once he just... Sam saw a flash of sliver glint. He'd held onto hope until he saw the knife in Dean's hand. Ruby's knife. The demon killing knife. The one Dean had yet to drop now that all the demons in the room were dead.

Looking up at Dean with wide teary eyes, his expression broken, he realized what it had come to. This. This is what his brother really thought of him. He intended to kill him here. Just as he had Ruby.

He didn't believe in him anymore. He was just another monster that needed to be stopped. His fight left him as fast as it had come. He dropped his arms to his sides. What was the point? Why try to fight anymore? His destiny, defending himself to everyone, even the person he thought he could always count on to have his back. The person he thought that loved him. If he didn't have his family, he had nothing, so what was there to save?

It was all for nothing. He'd fought so long against it, they had to be right if the doubts wouldn't fade weren't they? If even Dean looked at him and saw something Sam couldn't see. That he'd changed that much. As if he were no longer his brother. He was just a thing. Another thing to be hunted. "If I didn't know you, I'd want to hunt you." It rang in Sam's head.

Dean felt he had a duty, Sam would let him fulfill it. It was what Cas and Uriel wanted. And now apparently Dean too. Maybe it was the right thing. Maybe they were right about him.


Dean was expecting a fight, he was surprised when Sam just went limp, not even offering to defend himself. He wasn't prepared for what happened next. He had been ready for Sam to cut him off, stop the thrust of the knife as Dean braced himself and pushed aside his pain at what he knew he had to do. Sam was going out of control, it was only a matter of time before he turned, he had to be stopped. Fighting back tears, his breath stopped as he jammed the knife into his brothers lower side.


Sam hadn't raised a hand to stop him. The knife slid into him like butter. The glow he'd waited for, feared, never came.

Dean raised shocked horrified eyes to meet those of his little brother. "Sam." It was a whispered prayer. A denial. No. That hadn't just happened. He hadn't really meant for it to happen, he was supposed to block the blow!

The evil in Sam was never there to destroy. The knife didn't even acknowledge the demon blood in him. Because to work, the vessel had to be evil and Sam had never been anything but good. He knew that now.

Sam smiled, small and sad as he looked at his big brother. "You've done what they wanted. You're free now." He let out a breathy sigh as he sank to the floor at the end of the motel bed, eyes sliding shut.


"No!" Dean shouted. This wasn't happening. His brother wasn't dying. He hadn't just killed him. He fell to his knees next to Sam. "Sammy. Stay with me. I didn't mean it. Sam, please! Don't leave me."

Tears overflowed onto his cheeks. Sam was growing pale, his breathing labored. So much blood. It wasn't a kill wound, but it would be. Dean fumbled with his cellphone, attempting to call 911. "Just hang on. I'm gonna get you help. I'm gonna help you." He snarled and threw the phone across the room as he got no signal. He couldn't call out.

He pressed down on Sam's side. Blood gushed hot and sticky between his fingers, making him sick inside. His brother's blood. His fault. He'd done this. To his own flesh and blood. The grief and guilt hit him like a Tsunami. He'd let everyone play with his head. Telling him all he needed to know. Instead of letting his heart tell him what he should always have known.

Sam wasn't a threat to anyone. He was a gift. With everything life had dealt him, he'd never tried to be or do anything but the right thing. Even when he'd used his powers, even when he'd lied, he was out helping people. He never used them to hurt anyone. How was that wrong? He'd been so blind. Too stubborn and proud to see, too set in the way they were raised "if it's supernatural we kill it" to realize it's not always black and white.

He'd driven him to Ruby by harping on him about his powers and doubting him at every turn. Making him feel like he couldn't trust him or turn to him when he needed someone. He hadn't meant to do that. He didn't want that to happen. Hadn't wanted them to drift apart. And yet he'd kept pushing.

He reached up with his free hand and touched Sam's cooling neck. The pulse was so faint. "I'm sorry, Sammy. Please don't leave me before I can fix it. You're my family. You're all I've got." A sob stuck in his throat as the faint beat beneath his hands grew even weaker. He wasn't going to make it.

Oh God. Sam was going to die on the floor in some dirty crap motel room and it was his doing. "Look out for Sammy." "'If you can't save him, you have to kill him." "Stop him, or we will." What if he didn't need to be? What if I did? Hell the world did. And I just turned my back on him. I judged him. I'm the monster, not Sam.

Dean felt a part of himself, the best part, dying. So he'd gone to Ruby, so he'd lied. He'd lied to Sam too. He'd done things that he wasn't proud of. What right did he have to come down so hard on Sam? He'd tortured souls. Sam had saved them by pulling demons out of people who'd have otherwise died. Why had he thought that was such a bad thing?

Castiel appeared as he usually did, silently behind and then next to Dean. Dean felt a surge of anger as he snapped his head sideways to growl at the angel.

"Are you happy now? You got what you wanted. I killed him. I killed Sam." The last was said in a voice that sounded as if dragged across jagged glass. His pain was palpable. "I should never have listened to you. I was wrong to doubt him. The damn knife didn't even react to him! He wasn't a threat."

"We had to be sure. We didn't know -"

"That's right, you didn't know! But you were damn sure fast to point fingers weren't you? And where does that leave Sam? Or me? He was innocent."

Dean's shoulders shook with the barely contained urge to completely shatter. When Sam was gone there would be no holding back. There would be no more Dean. He'd not go on without Sam. He couldn't. He'd be following behind him shortly. "Why don't you just kill me too huh? Pull a Winchester hat trick."

"Dean - " The angels eyes were somber. Were he able to feel sadness he would be now. Watching the grieving brother protectively curved over top his dying sibling. Breaking. A soul shredding.

"Just throw me back in the damn pit. I don't care." A tear fell on Sam's face. "It's what I deserve."

Castiel sighed and placed a hand on Dean's shoulder. "We weren't sure of the endgame Dean. Or what to expect. What you've done..." Dean jerked away. Castiel seeming almost apologetic continued. "We needed to know for certain and now what you've done has cleared Sam."

Dean snorted, derisive. "How nice for you. My brother is still going to die."

"No." Casteil said looking down at the men at his feet. "He won't."

Bright light filled the room, a dizziness took over the older brother. "Sam." He called as he fell to the floor next to his brother.


When he awoke, he was uncertain of where he was or how much time had passed.

Still being fuzzy, it took him a few minutes to gather his thoughts. He groaned as he shook his head. The memories came crashing back full force, knocking the air from his lungs. "Sam!" He cried, jerking into a sitting position and looking wildly around him. There next to him on the floor as he'd left him was Sam.

"Sammy." Dean crawled over to him and the sweat burned his eyes as he leaned over and checked for a pulse he prayed he'd find. Who knew how long it had been, Sam was in such bad shape. But.. he looked down at Sam. No blood.

The bleeding had stopped? How could that be? Finding the pulse, it was steady and strong beneath the tips of his fingers. He was alive. Dean was shocked, but that quickly gave way to joy. He wanted to let out a whoop. Instead he shook his brother's shoulder gently. "Sam, wake up."

Sam's face and eyes crinkled. Like a kid annoyed and fighting getting up in the morning for school. Dean laughed now and shook him again. "Sammy."

Sam groaned and hazel eyes cracked open. "Whaz..?"

"You're okay." It was more like amazed relief than a question. Truly Sam was alright. The wound that had been was gone, the blood too. His color had returned and he was breathing fine. He wasn't sure why or how, all he knew was he was so happy he could barely contain himself.

"I am?" Sam questioned. Then taking inventory of himself, "I am. Why am I?" He should be dead. He was bleeding, Dean... He drew in a sharp breath, eyes snapping up to his brother, filling with fear and hurt. Was it a vision? No, it had hurt too much for that. It was real. Which meant his own brother had betrayed him. He scooted back away from him.

Dean's own face became troubled, eyes wary. "Sam?" He leaned out slowly and carefully with his hand to touch Sam, but was met by a jerk and a flinch. He jerked his own hand back as if burned. He recognized that look on Sam's face. Fear. His baby brother was afraid of him.

"Don't touch me. Stay away from me."

"Sam.." Dean felt his heart clench. Sam didn't trust him anymore. Why would he? After this, how could he ever trust him again?

"You tried to kill me." Sam whispered. Even knowing it was true it still felt too fantastic to believe. As pissed off as Dean could get with him, he never dreamed his big brother would ever try to hurt him.

"I - " What? What could he ever say to excuse what he did or make it right? How could Sam ever look at him again? Be in the same room with him? Still, he had to try. "Sam I'm sorry. I didn't mean it."

"Didn't mean it?" Sam stood on shaky legs as he teetered, Dean once again out of instinct reached out to steady him only to have Sam pull back and put the bed between them. "You damn well acted like you meant it. How do you stab someone on accident?"

"I thought you'd block me." Dean whispered. He had.

"And then what? You'd just try again until I didn't block you fast enough? So you could get in that kill shot?" Sam was hurt. Angry. And alone. So alone. He'd just lost the only family he had left. He couldn't stay after this. They'd never be okay again. He could never look at Dean the same way, nor trust him anymore.

Dean flinched, going pale. What had he thought? That was what he was thinking wasn't it? All or nothing? Would he have tried another way until he succeed if Sam had fought him? He swallowed, feeling ill. He didn't know. He should, but he didn't and that scared him.

He loved his brother. Nothing would ever change that. Even what he thought he'd had to do didn't change it. He wasn't lying when he told Cas he didn't care if he sent him back to hell. That's where he'd be without Sam. He wasn't going to go on with out him. A murder-suicide then? Dean shivered, raising swimming eyes guiltily to Sam. "'I don't know." He rasped.

Sam stepped even farther away from him. "I wouldn't have gone on without you though." Dean confessed. "I know that much."

Shaking his head wearily, Sam reached down and felt his side, looking over where his wound no longer was. "Well, that makes it all better then doesn't it? Let's hug and forget all about it." He wasn't angry. He sounded it, but what he really was was in agony. His chest hurt so much. This pain, the pain of losing Dean this way, it hurt. It hurt like hell. Making him wish Dean had finished the job.

Reaching out with a shaking hand Sam picked up his duffel. He hurriedly starting packing it without looking at Dean. He need to get out of here. He just couldn't be in the same room with him. He had to get away. Everything inside him was screaming "Run!" so he was going to oblige.

"What are you doing?" Dean asked, knowing full well what was going on. He felt like dying all over again. Sam was leaving him. He hated him and he was going to leave him alone like he deserved.

"I need to get out of here. I can't be with you right now." He'd meant to say I can't be with you anymore, but right now was what came out of his mouth. In spite of everything, he didn't really want to leave Dean. He loved his bother. But he just couldn't stay. Not when everything was so messed up. He needed to get out and clear his head, to think about everything. Then he'd decide what to do next.

Dean looked on remorsefully. "Please Sammy, I didn't mean it. Can't we ...?" What talk about it? He realized how weak the sentence sounded, so he didn't finish it.

Sam shook his head. "I can't. I need to be away from you now."

Dean drew in a shaky breath. He nodded, eyes bright, but sank down on his bed. Dejected. This was it. Sam was never going to forgive him. This was the last time he'd ever see him. "I understand." He didn't. He didn't understand any of it. How the hell had this happened? When did it all go so very wrong?

Sam hefted his now hecticly packed bag over his shoulder and looked at Dean. Sitting on the bed by the door, his usual spot all their lives, he wouldn't meet Sam's eyes. He thought about saying something, but instead headed for the door and opened it. He was just starting out when a low, rough voice followed behind him.

"I really am sorry. You take care of yourself, Sammy."

Sam nodded, but didn't turn around. He swallowed a lump that felt like sawdust lodged in his windpipe. "You too." And with that he was gone.

When the door closed behind him, Dean put his head in his hands and wept.


It had been weeks since Sam had left Dean alone in the motel room that day. He'd tried calling just once, but Sam wouldn't answer. He couldn't bring himself too, not yet. He'd thought about throwing his phone away, but a part of him made himself hang on to it. What if something happened to Dean?

Bobby had tried calling too. It was with great reservation he finally answered. Afraid of just that. Instead he'd gotten an earful of, "What happened?" and "What's wrong with you two and why won't anyone answer their damn phones?"

Sam didn't feel like explaining it all, so he just said he and Dean had taken some time off from each other. Bobby could sense the undercurrent in Sam's tone and knew something was wrong. He didn't ask, instead saying, "Have you talked to him?"

Sam said that he had not. "In how long?" Bobby sounded more tense now.

Sam bit his lip. "Three weeks." He admitted.

Bobby blew out a puff out air and what he said next made Sam go cold. "I ain't talked to him in over two. He isn't answering his phone."

Sam was walking before he ever realized he was moving. He rushed into his room, grabbed his meager belongings, and headed back out to the parking lot. He started checking cars in the lot of the motel he was staying at. "What did he say last when you talked to him? Was he working a job?"

"No, but he didn't sound right. He wouldn't tell me where he was or what he was up to. Just that you'd gone and that you weren't coming back. Started muttering how he'd messed up and it was too late."

Sam was near panicked now. Dean had certainly not sounded himself if he was saying all of that. And over two weeks? What if he'd been hurt? He was alone, no one to watch his back. If he was on a hunt... Sam jumped in the car he'd found unlocked and hotwired it. "Okay Bobby, I need you to do me a favor. Try and track down his location by his phone. Then gimme a call back and tell me what you find."

"What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to find him." Sam stepped on the gas and headed back the way he'd come all those weeks ago. It was unlikely Dean was still there, but it was his best guess until Bobby told him different.


As it turned out, it was a very good guess. Bobby had traced his pings back to the same town they'd been staying in when Sam had left. And Sam had then backtracked to the same motel. In front, the Impala sat.

Sam pulled in, taking in the lot, the Impala and the window of their room. Dean hadn't even left? Why was he still here? Coming to a stop, he opened up the door and stepped out with unease in his gut. Was something wrong, was he okay?

Sam paused at the irony of that. His brother had tried to kill him, yet he'd rushed back at the thought of Dean being in danger and consumed with worry over him. And even more ridiculous, guilt for having left him on his own.

He knew that Dean's greatest fear was being alone. Abandoned. But damn it, he'd driven Sam away. He'd had every right to go. And his pep talk with himself did nothing to stop the gnawing inside him.

He approached the door cautiously. He checked it out, nothing noticeable outside. He quietly picked the lock and opened the door steadily. The room was dark, no lights were turned on and a dim shaft shown in the window. The first thing he noticed was the smell. Stale sweat, vomit and whiskey. Strong whiskey.

Coming further into the room he looked over on the bed and felt his stomach drop out. Dean lay propped up against the headboard, passed out. He looked awful. Weeks of beard growth on his face, greasy hair sticking up, unwashed. His clothes the very same ones he'd been wearing when Sam walked out. Rumpled and smelly. He looked pale and his cheeks were gaunt. Like he'd not been eating or taking care of himself.

Looking around, Sam saw dozens of empty alcohol bottles and realized why. Dean had been drinking his meals.

He groaned in dismay. His heart going out to his big brother. 'Oh Dean.' He walked over to the bed, looking down at his fallen sibling. A shadow of the brother he'd known before.

He hadn't expected it to be this bad. He knew Dean would be upset, but more than that he thought it would ease things for both of them if he left. Clearly he'd been wrong. Dean had spiraled in his absence. Even more so than when Dad had died. Then he was being reckless and ruthless on hunts. Now he was just drinking himself to death.

Truthfully, Sam hadn't been doing so hot either, but he'd done just slightly better than Dean. He'd been lonely, depressed and lost. He missed his brother. He hated himself. He felt like he'd brought it all down on them. Even though in his head he knew that wasn't true, his heart kept beating him up.

Every day he'd wanted to call Dean, he need to hear his voice. Make sure he was okay. To not let that connection go. He was all Sam had left in the world and he wanted him back. Badly. But he couldn't bring himself to come back and sort this mess out. Till now. The choice was no longer his. It was necessary. They both needed this. Dean needed this.

He gently tapped his brother's shoulder as he stood next to him. 'Dean.' No response. Not even a twitch. His brother was really out. 'Dean.' He tapped his face this time. Out cold.

Sam signed and got up to do what he could till his brother's alcoholic coma wore off. He walked around the room picking up a few chip wrappers, thank goodness Dean had been eating something, and the booze bottles scattered all over the floor and just about every surface in the room.

After twenty minutes of cleaning and scrubbing stale vomit from the carpet, he came back to rest his gaze once again on his sleeping sibling. He looked old beyond his years. So much had happened to them. It had taken it's toll. It scared Sam how much like his father Dean had become, yet even hunting couldn't save him now. There was no revenge to be had, no evil to stop. Just himself, caught in a downward spiral of pain. Sam brushed Dean's sweaty hair back from his forehead with a sad, tender smile.

Dean had taken care of him, raised him, been his parent and his best friend. None of what had happened could erase that. Nothing ever could. They were a family.

Taking in Dean's new look, one that would soon put Grizzly Adams to shame, Sam crept into the bathroom for Dean's toiletry kit. He figured while Dean was out, it wouldn't hurt to tidy him up some. It would have to make him feel better. He was a mess. And so out of it, Sam doubted he'd feel a thing.

He was right. His brother never stirred as he shaved with great care the bushy beard that had taken over his face. Next he peeled off Dean's boots and socks. He nearly gagged as they came lose. His brother's sweaty socks had always had that effect on him. He remembered as kids he'd chase him around the house, hold him down, and then force either a rank sneaker or gym sock under his nose while Sam bellowed for his father to make him cut it out.

He smiled. They'd tussled afterward, every time Sam swearing revenge. Such happy days. They'd been so close then. Trusting each other completely.

Stretching, he stood and looked around to the clock. It was nearing dinner time. His stomach growled to remind him he hadn't eaten breakfast or lunch in his rush to get to Dean. He didn't want to leave him for long, maybe just enough time to grab something at the diner down the street. He'd get something for Dean too. He needed to eat. Looking back at the sleeping man on the bed, Sam grabbed his jacket and headed for the door.


Dean awoke to the smell of food wafting around the room. He frowned, eyes still closed and head pounding as his stomach rolled. That wasn't right, he hadn't eaten anything in days. At least he didn't think he had. It was hard to remember anymore. All his days since Sam had left seemed to blend together. He remembered drinking alone in his room as he'd been doing pretty much for the past three weeks, then nothing. He hadn't gone out for anything.

Struggling, he cracked one eye open experimentally. The shaft of light pierced his head with a lance of agony and he groaned, closing it as he rolled over.


The soft voice took a moment to reach him, but when it did, he froze. He knew who it sounded like, but also who it couldn't be. He'd heard that voice a lot the last three weeks. In his sleep, when he was drunk, it never left him for long. His wildest dreams or his greatest nightmare, that voice had been his constant companion through it all. He nearly snorted. That should probably worry him. He was cracking up, but he couldn't be bothered to care.

He spoke to the voice, annoyed it was interfering with him wallowing in misery. "Go away. Just shut up."


Sam frowned. His brother wasn't responding as he'd hoped, maybe he wasn't awake just yet. He leaned forward and put his hand on his brother's ankle. "Dean?"

Dean jerked sideways, eyes wild and he turned his head and met the eyes of the face he knew had to be a dream. It always was. "You aren't real. You're never real."

Sam's eyes grew sad. His brother was looking at him like he was some demon come to haunt him. He smirked bitterly. Maybe not far from the truth. Here they both were, broken again, and all because of what he could do. He hated it to his core. But now wasn't the time for self-loathing. He took in Dean's rigid form, holding himself as far toward the other side of the bed and away from him as possible. His eyes glazed with a drunken sheen of pain.

"I'm real Dean. I'm right here. I came back."

This only seemed to upset his brother more. He shook his head furiously, then grimaced as a steady pulsing ache reminded him moving was a bad idea. "You're lying. You aren't here, just like every time before. He's never coming back. He hates me." Tears stood in his dull hazel gaze. "He should. My fault."

Sam sat back and took in his broken brother. This was even worse than he'd thought. Dean had drunk himself so deep under he was having delusions? He didn't know what to do, this was scaring him more than he cared to admit.

"Man, I'm right here." He touched Dean's ankle again. "Feel me? I'm real. I'm right here with you. I came back for you."

Dean's face turned confused. The truth slowly starting to fall into place for him, penetrating the haze he'd been living in almost constantly for weeks. Sam? He was here? It wasn't a dream? "Why are you here?" How could you come back to me?

He smiled, happy for a moment before that faded and he became morose. "Come back to return the favor right? It's only fair." He pulled the knife from under his pillow and handed it to Sam. "I was thinking of doing it myself, but didn't want to take it from you. Only fair." He repeated himself, shoving the sliver edge out toward his brother in offering to take.


Sam's heart stopped. I was gonna do it myself, didn't want to take it from you. He broke into a cold sweat. He knew Dean was upset when he left, but to think of killing himself? He stared at the blade like it was a rattlesnake about to bite him. And now he thought Sam could hurt him, would want to? "No." He choked out. "No, I don't want to hurt you. Put that away."

Dean frowned, blade and arm dipping slightly. "Why not?" He didn't understand what Sam was saying. He should want to hurt him. He wanted him to. It was the guilt weighing down on him like a cold blanket, a grave waiting for it's owner. He needed for Sam to make it right because nothing else ever could. He'd done the ultimate betrayal. Blood for blood. It was all he had left to look forward to.

"You're my brother. I'm not going to hurt you." Sam said softly, his warm eyes trying to tell his brother the feelings he couldn't yet put into words. Things he didn't yet understand for himself. He should be angry, he should be running in the other direction, leaving his brother to self-destruct. But he couldn't. He didn't want to. What he wanted, he realized with a start, was to be a family again. To try and go back to how they were before all this insanity started.

"But you have to!" Dean swayed as he tried to push himself up off the bed. His distraught face twisting as he again held the knife out to Sam. "It's the only thing I have left. The only thing to make it right. I can't make it up to you if you don't."

Sam's eyes pricked, wetness running down his cheek. His brother was in such pain, it was coming off him in waves, his eyes broken jade, haunted by ghosts of memories he couldn't escape. In his mind, the only thing that he could do to prove his love to Sam was to die for him.

Sam drew in a jagged breath. "I don't want you to die for me Dean." His brother dropped the arm holding the dagger to his side, disappointed. "I want you to live for me."

Dean looked at his little brother, head cocking to the side. "Huh?"

Sam smiled through the pain eating at him. He had to phrase this right if he was to reach him. To save them both.

"We've both made so many mistakes. Lying to each other, hurting one another. We pushed each other away when we should have been coming together. Instead of relying on each other as a family, as a team, we let others get in the way. We didn't listen to our hearts. We were manipulated and it corrupted the past we share."

Dean blinked, the hangover was there, big time. But his brother's words were getting through it. He felt a tiny flare of something he hardly recognized, something he'd thought died when Sam walked out that door. Hope. He was holding onto his little brother's words like a lifeline. He held his breath as Sam continued.

"I can't say I'll ever be able to forget what happened."

And just like that Dean felt the hopeful flame squash out. He felt the darkness ready to pull him under again, he was ready to just let it all go away. He couldn't do this. But then Sam went on and he felt like sobbing. "But I do forgive you." Dean's eyes snapped up.

"You do? How?" He coudln't grasp it. Sam was forgiving him? He'd done something he should never be forgiven for. He knew he could never forgive himself. He would never forget either. In his every waking moment the memories would creep in. Every time he closed his eyes the nightmare of his brother bleeding on the floor, his own hands coated in blood, hounded him. He would never rest again. He would never be at peace. He didn't deserve to be, he knew that. But Sam?

As if reading his thoughts, Sam nodded. "I know you'll take a long time to forgive yourself," If you ever do. "But I don't need it. I already know in my heart this is where I belong."

Seeing Dean's confusion he kept on. "When Bobby called me saying he coudln't reach you, I was beside msyelf. The only thing I could think of, the one thought, was 'get to Dean.' Nothing else mattered. Not what happened, not what might happen, just that I had to find you and see for myself you were okay."

Dean felt his heart thump and swallowed, his throat dry and scratchy. "Why?"

"Because you're my big brother. In spite of everything I still love you. I always will. Nothing can change that. That's what I realized. So I came back."

Dean looked down, posture lame, trying to understand everything Sam had just said. He couldn't. His brother was not only forgivng him, he still loved him. Still claimed him as family after everything. He didn't know how to take it in. But he knew also that was just Sam. Loving, forgiving, always seeing the good in everyone. Even when he didn't deserve it.

He looked back up at Sam, eyes moist. "I don't know what to say."

"Don't say anything. Just be okay." Sam told him firmly. Get better. Don't drown in your sorrow anymore. Be my family again.

Dean huffed a laugh and sat back on the bed. "I don't know how to be. I'm not sure anything will ever be again." He looked over at Sam, pensive. "But you being here, that sort of makes it a damn sight better."

Sam smiled and Dean let a tear fall as he smiled back. "I'm so sorry, Sammy."

Sam nodded. "I know."

"I missed you."

Sam took a step toward him. "I missed you too, big brother."

Dean stood and shakily went to meet Sam. It should have been awkward, this was the mother of all chick flicks, but it wasn't. They met and shared a tight hug. Dean's breath fanning hotly on Sam's neck. "Good to have you back, little brother."

"Good to be back."

They stood back, just looking at each other, happy smiles to be reunitied if not whole just yet. They'd get there.

"How did you get here?" Dean asked, brow puckered. Sam had left on foot.

"I stole a car." Sam shrugged. He do it again too. It got him to Dean. It got him home.

Dean smiled. "That's my boy."

Sam smiled and laughed. Then mischief sparking in his hazel eyes, he smirked and looked Dean up and down. "Dude, you reek. You need a shower. You haven't even changed clothes since I've been gone. And your breath smells like puke."

A gut busting laugh burst out of Dean and Sam smiled even wider. That had been his goal. Man that was good to hear.

Life shining in his eyes again for the first time in weeks, Dean sniffed under his arm and grimaced. "You're right. I guess I should." He looked questiningly at him. "Are you..." Will you still be here when I come out?

Sensing the unease, Sam nodded. "I'll wait right out here. Then we can eat dinner. I went down to the diner." Sam indicated the take out boxes on the table.

Dean grabbed some clothes out of his duffel and headed for the bathroom. He nodded appreciativly at his brother. "Thanks Sam."

It wasn't just about the food, they both knew it. Thanks for coming back. Thanks for second chances.

Sam tipped his head. "Anytime."

Dean stepped in the door and closed it. Sam sighed and sat down at the table, setting their food and sodas out for when Dean returned.

From inside the door, Dean's voice came floating out. "What the hell? Sam, did you shave me?"

The incedulous sound of his brothe'rs voice sent Sam into a chuckling fit and it felt so good. Things weren't normal yet, but they were on their way.