OK, its my first story, and I do have more of plot in mind, but I'm truly awful about getting around to writing it, and if it ever does materialise, it'll be as a new story which can be read alone, or as a follow on from this.

If anyone is interested, EmptySpaces11 asked permission to translate this story into Portuguese, so if you are interested, head along and check it out. http:// www. fanfiction .net/ s/ 5298271/1/Cicatrizes without the spaces obviously

Disclaimer : I own nothing, I saw nothing, and its none of my business even if I had!


Chapter 1

"Aw man, how come I'm the one who has to be bait for the evil sons-of-bitches, EVERY DAMN TIME?" Dean was not a happy bunny, and rightly so, having recently been coated in a thick film of ectoplasm by a particularly pissed off spook. With his hair plastered to his head, his shirt stuck to his chest and his jeans clinging to his legs, he looked like he'd been caught in a rainstorm. Unfortunately, ectoplasm didn't dry off (or wash off) as easily as rain water.

"You always have to be the bait because you refuse to ever consider letting me do it for once in your damn life, Dean. And by the way, that sounded very much like whining to me! Get over it, I'm pretty well covered as well." Sam smirked at the idea of getting on up on his macho brother.

"I do not whine, that's your job, Samantha! And its not my fault I'm irresistible to both creepy ass ghosts, ghouls and assorted monsters and hot women!" Dean grumbled, gathering up his weapons and heading for the impala. Sam followed suit. As they were loading their guns and knives in the trunk, Dean suddenly realised the state he was in was going to completely ruin the upholstery in his beloved baby and muttered curses under his breath, while searching for something to throw over his seats. He came up empty.

"What's wrong, Dean?" queried Sam.

"I need something to cover the seats, so m'baby doesn't end up paying for your piss-poor shooting." Dean failed to recognise that the reason Sam had "missed" the shot at the ghost was because at the time, it had its hands around his brother's throat, and the younger Winchester had wisely decided that another chest full of rock salt was of a greater evil than washing ectoplasm out of one's hair. Dean disagreed.

"You threw that in with the laundry duffel because you bled all over it on the last hunt. It's in the motel."

"Aw, shit!" Dean grumbled again, resigning himself to driving back to the motel in his underwear. Sam wasn't as easily convinced.

"What are you doing?" he asked as Dean started to pull his gloopy t-shirt over his head. Dean explained, throwing his jeans the way of his t-shirt. Sam dug in his heels, refusing to move. Dean glared at him.

"You said it yourself, you're pretty well slimed as well, and there is no damn way you are getting in my car looking like that, so either strip, or walk home." Dean smirked, knowing he'd won this battle when Sam slowly reached for the hem of his t-shirt.

"Those are words I'd hoped never to hear you say to me, Dean", Sam retorted. Dean just grinned his shit-eating grin and slid behind the wheel of the impala in just his boxers. Sam continued to bitch, about the cold, about the possibility of getting stopped by the cops...basically, as far as Dean could tell, about anything and everything. He slapped the Metallica tape into the stereo and turned it up to drown out the moaning.

Sam looked at his near naked brother, at the marked lack of scars on his body, and at the haunted look in his eyes that was present even when he was in the best of moods. At times like these, if he didn't look too closely, Sam could almost believe that he had his brother back as he was. Before the deal. Before Hell. And before Dean told him what had happened down there. Now that Sam knew, though, he couldn't look at his brother without wondering if he would ever be the same man he had been. Sam didn't think so. How could anyone be the same after months of endless torture at the hands of some of the worst the otherworld had to offer. Except, it hadn't been months. As far as Dean was concerned, it had been decades. And he hadn't endured endless torture. It had ended. The only problem was that it had only ended when Dean agreed to become the torturer, rather than the tortured. Sam tried really hard not to pity Dean, knowing how patronising that was, and how Dean himself would hate it, but sometimes, it was just too much, knowing what his brother had done for him. How he had given up his life, his soul and his body for his little brother, who may, or may not be more evil than anything else out there.

Sam ventured a question.

"Do you regret it, Dean?" he asked in a quiet voice, scarcely daring to breathe, so afraid of the answer. Dean turned to look at him, rather than the road, and decided he needed the question clarified.

"Do I regret what?" he asked carefully, hoping his brother meant, did he regret taking this case, or maybe, did he regret sleeping with the waitress at the bar in the last town, or something inane like that.

"Do you regret making the deal, now that you know what it cost?" Obviously, Dean's luck was out. Chick-flick moment ahead. He decided to plough on, as if he didn't notice it.

"If you mean that now that I know what hell is like, would I go back to the crossroads, kill that bitch and let you die, rather than go to hell, then no, I don't regret it. I regret what I did down there, I regret that I'm not stronger, and I regret that I let you down, but I don't regret dying for you, and I would do it again in a heartbeat if you needed me to." Having gotten his little speech out, Dean turned his full attention back to the road ahead and clammed up. Tears pricked at the corners of Sam's eyes, and he wasn't sure if he should be pleased or frightened. Elation at the sacrifice that his brother had made, and his conviction that he had done the right thing warred within Sam with the knowledge that every bad thing that had happened to Dean in his short life could be traced back to the night Yellow Eyes came for Sam when he was an infant. The smooth skin of his brother's body taunted him. It felt like Dean had been brought back whole in body at least, only to be marred once more by Sam's failings. He had already accumulated several scars to replace those lost when Castiel pulled him from the pit.

"Dude, you're creeping me out, you wanna quit ogling me?" Dean quirked an eyebrow at Sam, pulling up in front of their motel room. Catching his brother staring at his chest was not one of the issues he anticipated on his semi-naked drive back from a hunt.

"Sorry Dean," Sam thought fast, and came up with a half-truth, "its just still strange to me that all your scars have gone".

"Yeah, you and me both", Dean muttered in response as he stepped out of the car and began to unload their dirty clothes and some weapons, thankful they had insisted on a room as far away from other guests as possible. "I call first shower!"

"Yeah, ok," Sam mumbled distractedly, still lost in his own thoughts. It didn't go unnoticed, but Dean decided to let it go this once. He was too tired to get into it. He threw his keys, clothes and weapons on his bed and began to root around in a duffel of clean clothes as Sam followed him indoors and sat down in front of his laptop.

With a grunt of satisfaction, Dean pulled out some clean underwear and a pair of sweatpants and headed for the shower. Closing the door on his distracted brother, he turned on this water to heat up and stood for a long moment in front of the grimy little mirror in the motel bathroom, staring at his reflection, as a stranger stared back at him.

He knew Sam hadn't told him the whole truth about why he was staring at his body in the car. Yeah, he knew it was to do with the absentee scars, but it was about more than a few fading marks on his body. It was what those marks had represented. A lifetime of shared history. The one on his collarbone where it had been broken, the burn on his arm, the puckered marks on his chest where he had been shot full of rock salt previously. Sam had known every mark Dean had, as he knew Sam's, because each had been there when the other had received them. All familiar old friends who they had grown used to over the years. And all now gone. Wiped clean. Now, he guessed Sam felt a little out of his depth, and who could blame him. Dean did too. There were times, like now, where he had trouble recognising his own reflection in the mirror. Because he had scars where this body did not. His eyes had never looked so haunted. His shoulders had never slumped in defeat like this. He gave up, stripped off his boxers and stepped into the hot water, hoping the heat would burn away all these doubts and return him to the man he used to be. The man who, although he had never been proud of himself, had never been this filled with self-loathing.

So whats the verdict...carry on, leave it as it is, or delete and pretend it never happened??