Notes

Not a whole lot to say, just that I think what Sam's reasons for not telling Dean about going after Lillith in Sex and Violence was kinda crap. He didn't tell Dean from the very beginning and he didn't learn about Dean's intact memories of Hell until much later. So, I think he's just sort of in denial.

That's it. I'll explain a little more after the chapter. In the meantime, hope ya'll enjoy :)

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Part II

Vicious nightmares forced Sam up from the veil of sleep until the scenes of Hell ceased and he was left to the blessed dark behind his closed eyelids. He felt something soft beneath him. The warmth of arms he'd felt right before becoming oblivious to the conscious world had been replaced by something else. A blanket, Sam's fuzzy mind realized. He was in bed. Dean must have checked them into a motel. The thought of his brother immediately sparked an ache in Sam's chest. He instantly regretted his vicious taunt of "How was Hell? Don't spare the details." in the previous month, right before everything had hit the fan with the angels and demons. If he had known, God if he had only known, he wouldn't have ever even asked Dean about Hell to begin with.

How could Dean have withstood that for forty years? How had Sam even been able to see what Dean had been able to withstand? A possibility came to mind, and while it still didn't completely explain, it made the most sense.

Deciding it was time to face all the thoughts and questions buzzing around his head, Sam opened his eyes. He was indeed in a motel. The room was dimly lit, perhaps with the dull sunlight of dusk or dawn, and it was completely quiet. That fact caused Sam's heart to beat a faster and he was just about to jump out of bed and go find his brother before he realized he needed to look no further than moving his head to the right.

Across the room in a chair, elbows bent forward on his knees and head buried in his hands, sat Dean. Sam took in the rumpled clothing, the same jeans and shirt combination Dean had been wearing the last time Sam had seen him, and the disheveled hair where Dean's fingers gripped and laced through it. Sam frowned. Dean looked terrible. He was about to say something about it when a muffled sniffing sound came from across the room and Dean looked up. Dark-circled, red-rimmed, and puffy, green eyes widened slightly as they focused on Sam, the features encompassing them relaxing visibly.

"Sam." Dean breathed before standing quickly and moving to his little brother's side. Sam tried to push himself up onto his elbows as Dean approached, but was forced to stop when stars burst before his eyes, courtesy of the sudden and painful pounding in his head. His arms, shockingly weak, buckled and Sam fell back against the pillow with a groan.

"W-w-whoa, take it easy." Something in Dean's voice made Sam feel inclined to listen to him. Normally whenever Dean requested that he slow down, there was at least a hint of annoyance in his tone, usually over the fact that Sam was prone to push himself too hard, too fast, but this time Dean sounded almost desperate. Sam obeyed the gently restraining hands on his shoulders and sank back against the mattress, his eyes fixed on and carefully searching his brother's.

Sam tried to swallow and found it was more difficult than it should be.

"Water?" He requested after a light coughing fit.

"Yeah." Dean blinked and hurried off, quickly returning with a clear, plastic cup of flat water. He helped ease Sam up enough to drink. Sam downed the whole glass and returned his aching head appreciatively to the soft pillow.

"What happened?" He asked hoarsely. Dean had turned to toss the plastic cup into the trash can across the room. He paused when the question was posed and Sam heard him pull in a deep breath. The ensuing silence scared Sam. What had happened? Had something more gone on when he was asleep? Had Dean been hurt somehow by whatever it was that had occurred? Sam knew that he himself didn't feel too damn hot and he was sure that his sneak-peak of Hell had something to do with it.

Finally, Dean pivoted around on the edge of the bed to face Sam.

"I was kinda hoping you could tell me that." Dean's voice sounded gravelly and the words would have surprised Sam had he not seen the oddly knowing look in his brother's eyes. He got the distinct feeling that Dean had narrowed down the possibilities and was thinking the exact same thing he was. It wouldn't be the first time that there had been a staggering spike in Sam's "psychic whatever", as they'd come to call it. And it also wouldn't be the first time it had happened during a situation in which Sam felt an immense amount of stress, often times somehow pertaining to his brother.

Sam just blinked owlishly at Dean for a few moments. He didn't quite feel the need to verbalize what they were both obviously thinking. There were more important things to talk about and Sam did not want to steer the conversation towards something that he felt he could say no more about. Dean nodded softly after a few moments of silence from his little brother and Sam took it as acknowledgment, and perhaps agreement, that the subject of his "psychic whatever" was not to be touched right at this moment. Dean worried his bottom lip between his teeth a bit before speaking up again.

"You've been out for nearly twenty hours."

Sam's felt his eyebrows creep higher on his forehead. It hadn't felt like twenty hours. On the contrary, he felt exhausted, mentally and physically.

"When uh..." Dean continued, sensing the questions forming in Sam's head and beating him to the punch. "When you grabbed my shoulders..." He shook his head, his eyes roaming lazily. Sam recognized the look and could almost see the wheels turning in Dean's mind as he obviously was trying to properly convey his thoughts. "I don't know, something happened."

"Damn right something happened." But Sam kept the thought to himself. He wanted to hear Dean's story before he told his own.

"You went all tense. You touched me and sort of gasped. Then..." Dean paused and cleared his throat. Sam saw a twinge of pain in Dean's eyes before they turned away from him. "Not too long after uh...after that you started bleeding really bad, from your nose, and you just collapsed." Dean's shoulders were hunched, the recollection of the events an almost palpable weight on his body. "I couldn't stop your bleeding, and you wouldn't respond to anything I did, so I brought you here. That was all yesterday afternoon." He looked back up at Sam finally. "How do you feel?" He asked softly.

Sam pulled in a deep breath and let his head roll to the front so he could look up at the ceiling. He took a moment to assess all that would go into his answer.

"Tired. Head hurts...pretty much feel like flattened crap." That seemed to sum it up fairly well.

"Sounds awesome." A flicker of a smile lightened Dean's face. Sam's breathed out as much of a laugh that his pounding head would allow and glanced momentarily down to smile at his brother. The light moment quickly faded as Sam started to sort through how to explain what he had seen. There wasn't any simple way to work "Hey, I saw what happened to you in Hell." into the conversation, but Sam had to say it. He had to convince Dean that the sins he thought he'd committed had not been as vicious as he'd made them out to be.

Sam tried pushing himself up onto his elbows again; he decided this was a talk he needed to have situated in a less vulnerable-feeling position.

"Dean, I-" Sam started, but paused when Dean stood and gently hooked an arm under his shoulder to help him sit up. "Thanks." Sam smiled appreciatively but sadly at his brother, feeling almost guilty as Dean propped some pillows behind his back. He waited until Dean sat back down by his knee before continuing. Sam pulled in a steady breath and carefully studied his hands where they rested in his lap. He wasn't sure how Dean would take this. Anger was a good bet. Denial a definite possibility as well.

"I don't know how, but..." Sam looked up finally at his brother's awaiting gaze. "Dean, when I touched you I...I saw what it was like for you...down there." Sam held his breath as Dean cleared his throat loudly and looked down at something near Sam's right elbow. Sam prepared himself for all the possible replies he foresaw Dean tossing his way. "I should have been stronger.", "I don't wanna talk about it." or perhaps no reply at all. What Dean actually came back with took Sam completely off guard.

"I know."

Sam's eyes narrowed a little. "You-...how?"

"I don't know. I just...knew. I knew exactly what you were seeing." Dean licked his lips and shrugged, looking genuinely stumped.

"How is that even possible?" Sam asked after a moment, sounding almost childlike in the wonder laced around his words.

Dean's mouth quirked ever so slightly, a shadow of amusement twinkling in his eyes. He raised his eyebrows at Sam.

"You wanna rethink that question a bit, kettle?"

Sam huffed out a breath, understanding the irony of his question, and rubbed his thumb and index finger into his eyes as his head gave a particularly hard thump, letting him know it wasn't too thrilled about the new position he was sitting in.

"Dean, you know what I meant. When I say how I mean..." Sam motioned futilely with his hand a few times before Dean nodded, his expression sober again.

"Yeah I get it. And, yeah I uh..." Dean angled his neck down a bit to scratch absently at the back of his head. "I could feel you."

Sam's eyes shot up to stare at Dean. When Dean didn't continue, as if "I could feel you" was a perfectly thorough explanation, Sam's eyebrows dipped and he squeezed his eyes closed after a moment, shaking his head quickly in confusion.

"You could feel me-"

"I could feel you..." Dean cut back in. He dropped his hand from his head where he had teased the hair into messy tufts, his eyes flicking back and forth as if searching for the words to complete his sentence somewhere in the air. "...In my head." He looked up at Sam. Sam just blinked back at him, his eyebrows scrunched and his mouth hanging slightly agape. "Like you were inside my mind, viewing my thoughts and..." Dean faltered and pulled in a deep breath. His eyes slipped momentarily closed as he finished. "...memories."

Sam said nothing, his eyes dropping to stare blankly into a middle distance as the voice he had heard from far away suddenly came back to him, its words making more sense now. "Sam, no. Stop. Sam, stop!" That had been Dean, realizing what was happening and trying to prevent him from what he was seeing.

Sam heard Dean drag in a curiously shaky breath and he pulled himself out of his stupor to focus back on his brother. Lines pinched at the space between Dean's eyebrows and, after a moment, he lifted sorrowful eyes up to Sam.

"Sammy...you weren't supposed to see that. I never wanted you to see that."

Sam swallowed down a dry feeling in his mouth and dropped his gaze, intent on hiding the sudden moisture in his eyes. "I never wanted you to either, Dean." Sam would have given anything to have been able to save Dean from having to go through such torment. Would give anything to be able to wipe it from Dean's memory. Unfortunately, time could not be turned back, not without a price anyway, and no eraser existed to scrub clean such horror, but that didn't break Sam's determination to make this better. If he had to talk until he went hoarse, Sam was going to help Dean through this. He cleared his throat after a moment and hung his head, rubbing his fingers over his eyes as discretely as possible.

"Dean, what I saw..." Sam shook his head, bringing his gaze back up after a moment to look steadily at his brother. "It's not unnatural or wrong to want revenge on the thing that caused you so much pain."

Dean immediately broke eye contact and fidgeted uncomfortably. He fiddled absently with the ring on his right hand and looked down at the faded orange and threadbare carpet. Sam realized with a pang of sadness that his words had fallen on self-loathingly deaf ears. "Dean-".

"But I didn't get revenge." Dean cut in suddenly. "Every time I made myself believe I was giving some of that hurt back to that...that son of a bitch, someone else's soul suffered...at my hands."

"You thought it was him-"

"It wasn't." Dean's voice was practically a hiss as his eyes darted up to Sam. Sam couldn't help the quick intake of breath at the hate burning out the green of his brother's eyes, but he schooled his reaction and lowered his head a little, his gaze locked steadily on Dean's. "How is that any excuse for what I did?" The muscles in Sam's jaw tensed and he carefully weighed the options for his counter argument. An idea came to him suddenly and, as low a blow as it was, he knew it could be most effective.

"If I had been down there with you and it was me Alastair was torturing, would you still feel guilty about this?" Dean visibly paled at Sam's analogy but then shook his head quickly, his jaw clenching angrily as though entertaining the mere idea of the words was enough to send him on a avenging rampage.

"This isn't like that, Sam-"

"No, you're right. It's worse." The volume of Sam's impressive voice raised a little and he found himself leaning forward, the need to drive his point home filling him with determination and pumping adrenaline-fueled strength through his body. "It's worse because you don't think you're worth being avenged, Dean! You don't think it's alright that you did probably the only thing that kept you from being just like them!"

"I was in Hell, wasn't I? I brought pain down upon soul after soul and I enjoyed it. So tell me, how does that make me so different from them-"

Before Sam knew it, his left hand was throbbing with each heavy pound of his heart and Dean was sprawled on the floor between the beds. Sam didn't like hitting his brother. In fact, he hated himself for doing it and he had meant to apologize earlier for the the cut and shiny patch of discolored skin on the right side of Dean's face, but if that was the only way he was going to get Dean to stop and listen, then so be it.

Dean pushed himself up off the floor and flopped back against the side of the adjacent bed, his neck angled awkwardly as he stared wild-eyed up at Sam.

"Damnit! Stop doing that!"

"That's two, now unless you want the third one I still owe you, you'll shut up and listen to me." Sam had leaned forward on his hands and he looked steadily back at Dean, trying his best to ignore how shaky his arms felt and to keep the tone in his voice that Dean always seemed to respond to. It was the omnipresent tone that John had always seemed to have; one that had always made Dean fall right into line. Sam was relieved when Dean carefully picked himself off the floor and sat back down on the bed instead of storming out of the room, though he did choose sit two arm's lengths away from Sam this time.

The brothers regarded each other silently for a few moments. One, trying to make sure he had the other's full attention. The other, still recovering from the new found method of communication the former had taken up. Sam pulled in a slow, steady breath after a few minutes and leaned gratefully back against the pillows. The mildly frightened look on Dean's face made his insides twist a little, but at least Sam knew he had his attention. Making sure to lower his voice and tone to the softer level Dean was used to, he began.

"You're not cruel, Dean. You're not...wrong for what you did. I saw how it was, I could feel how much regret you had before you figured out how to cope. And there's nothing wrong about the method you chose, because it worked, Dean. You proved them wrong."

Dean looked as if he might collapse in on himself. His shoulders drooped terribly and a defeated look smoothed his face into a disconcertingly calm mask. Sam willed his brother to look up and meet his gaze, but Dean kept his eyes down, studying his hands resting lightly on his leg. Dean's lips pressed together tightly and his Adam's apple bobbed erratically. A quiet grunting sound issued from low in his throat as he swallowed hard.

"How's that?" Dean asked, his voice raw-sounding and low and his expression unchanged.

"You didn't break." Sam wished his voice didn't sound so choked, but the relief he felt over the certainty of his statement was staggering. Dean had come back from Hell the same. Weighed down by memories and wearied by the experience, maybe, but he was still the same Dean as before. And for that, Sam could not be more thankful. Too many of his nightmares during those four months alone had been plagued with images of his brother, the expressive green eyes instead black as pitch, beckoning Sam to join him. "You didn't give in to what they wanted you to. They made you that offer because of the type of person you are, Dean. You are a hero. And they wanted to take that away from you and bring you down to their level, but you didn't let them. You endured. For thirty years, you denied them, and even after that you didn't let go of who you are."

Dean had lifted his head at some point and was looking at Sam with sad eyes. Sam realized he had captured his brother's attention probably more by the fact that his voice had started to shake and he sounded rather like he did twenty years ago, but he didn't care. Just like he didn't care that the pressure steadily building behind his eyes was reaching uncontrollable levels.

He couldn't stop the words. He'd been holding them in since the incident with Anna, and Alastair, and Castiel and Uriel a month ago, and it felt good to finally get them out. And Sam knew Dean needed to hear the words just as much as he needed to say them, even if Dean didn't want to admit it or didn't believe that he deserved to hear them.

"You're a good person, Dean. You're the most selfless man I know. You care too much. I've seen that every day for as long as I can remember. Castiel pulled you out. Do you know what that means?" Sam didn't expect an answer, but he paused to let Dean think it over for a moment. "That means that God Himself sees all the good in you too." Sam shook his head weakly, looking at his brother through tear-distorted eyes. "Why can't you?" A crack in his voice punctuated the end of the question.

Dean just looked back at Sam, his mouth opened slightly. After a moment his brow furrowed a little, and Sam was sure he saw his lower lip tremble. Dean suddenly broke eye contact and Sam inwardly cursed. Dean was trying to run again, trying to head back into his self-destructive shell. Sam would not let that happen. It was now or never because he knew that he had said all he could say, and repeating it all in a later attempt would just be a waste of time. Sam knew his brother well. Well enough to know that Dean would not feel so inclined to listen to what he had to say if he tried again.

"I know how you feel about the whole God thing. You don't really have a whole lot of faith in Him, but...obviously He has faith in you. And if you still can't trust that then just..." Sam paused, suddenly unsure about if his next words would help or hurt. The past few months had been nothing if not bumpy and he suddenly found himself terrified that Dean might flat out scoff at him. But Sam had to have faith that no matter what, keeping in mind the trials of the past, present, and most definitely the future, nothing could destroy the life-long bond he had with his brother.

"...Then just trust me." Sam spoke softly, as if the words would crack and shatter before they could reach Dean's ears. He held his breath when they successfully made it into the open air and he regarded Dean with unblinking, sea green eyes. Waiting, hoping. Sam knew that after everything he had kept from him, Dean really didn't have much reason to take his word now, but that didn't stop Sam from mentally adding "Please." to the end of his argument.

A long silence stretched out and filled all corners of the room, as if every object in sight was holding its breath along with Sam, waiting for a response. Dean hadn't moved an inch. If Sam didn't know better, he would have thought that he'd even stopped breathing. Dean just sat, the fingers on his left hand still circling around the silver ring on his right but no longer fiddling with it. His eyes had fallen again and focused on some middle distance near the edge of the bed.

It could have been anywhere from two minutes to an hour, if asked Sam would honestly not have been able to determine how much time had passed in that crushing silence, before Dean's lips pressed tightly together and he swallowed hard. Sam blinked and braced himself for the response he sensed was about to come from Dean, preparing for the worst, praying for the best.

Pulling in a deep, shaky-sounding breath, Dean raised watery eyes to meet the awaiting ones of his brother. Sam's lungs were starting to protest against the lack of oxygen, but they were forced to freeze a moment longer when Dean nodded, the movement almost imperceptible. If Sam hadn't been looking straight at Dean, he was pretty sure he wouldn't have been able to make out the long-anticipated reply.

"I can do that."

Sam quickly searched his brother's eyes and found what he had been waiting and hoping for: trust. Relief rushed through Sam and he felt himself sink heavily back into the pillows propped up behind him, the fatigue weighing down his body no longer ignorable, but no longer much of a concern either.

"Yeah?" The question coasted out on a long withheld breath. Sam heard himself sound so much like he did when he was five and, by the slight smile on Dean's face, he knew his brother heard it too. Dean moved his hand to rest on Sam's blanket-covered calf, curling his fingers gently around it in a quiet yet powerful gesture.

"Yeah." Dean said, just as softly. He nodded a little more noticeably this time and smiled a little truer. The something that flashed across Dean's eyes caused Sam's own smile to falter slightly, but he kept what was left of it reassuring and warm and decided not to bring up the something. "Not yet. Not now." Sam could read his big brother almost better than he could books and even if that weren't true, Dean's ever expressive eyes would always betray him. While Sam had seen trust shining warmly in the green depths, he had not seen acceptance or self exculpation. Dean still did not forgive himself for the wrong he felt he had done in Hell.

In all honesty, Sam hadn't really expected Dean to find peace of mind that easily. Of course he had hoped and prayed every single moment he had been speaking that maybe his words would absolve at least some of Dean's guilt, but in his heart Sam knew that this would be a long, difficult journey for both Dean and himself; one that in all probability would not end soon. In that moment though, with his brother looking at him like he hadn't since that night in New Harmony, Indiana, Sam was okay with that. Because even though there may be a trying road stretched out ahead of them, Sam believed he and Dean had taken the first step down it tonight. And as long as they continued along it together, Sam knew that one day they would reach the end.

-o-()-Fin-()-o-

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Notes

So...what did ya'll think? Good? Bad? Confusing? Too Unrealistic? Weird? EMO?

Can't really help ya much about the last part, because I am just starving for some affection between Sam and Dean and if the writers won't give it to me, then I'll do it myself. They're truly breaking my heart lately and I understand the whole mytharc they're working at and I feel like it's all building up to an epic make up session, but Kripke could NOT have picked a worse time to do this to me. Sam's teary words in In My Time Of Dying where he pleads "We were just starting to be brothers again" keep playing in my mind and making me wanna cry.

As much as I'd love to magically write away Dean's guilt, I realized I couldn't do that. So, I leave it up to Sam. Because as long as Dean has his little brother, they can get through anything.

I know I'm sort of flip-flopping between S1, 2, 3!Sam and S4!Sam, but I fully believe that Old!Sam is still in there somewhere, but the right situation has yet to present itself to pull him back out. And even though Dean said in Sex and Violence that the Sam he knew is gone (Which really hurt me to hear, because it is unfortunately true...for now) I still believe that Dean will NEVER lose faith in his brother. EVER. So there.

Also, I don't mean to offend anybody when I refer to God as "He". I'm just sort of going with how they refer to God on the show, which is mostly in male context.

I know I didn't really have them talk about how Sam saw what he did, but I think everyone assumed that it was due to his powers and that's what I referred to. That just wasn't what I wanted to focus on in this, just like Sam didn't want to focus on it. Bigger fish, ya mean?; )

EEEEE! March 12th is the day after tomorrow YAYAYAY!...hey, just occurred to me, the next day will be another Friday the 13th. HA! : D

Aaaaaaanywho, let me hear you guys' opinions.

Reviews are like (insert witty metaphor)...and I'm (insert appropriate noun relating to metaphor)

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