This popped into my head while watching the episode Hunted for the second or third time. Although I'm a Sam fan, the hopelessly lost look on Dean's face during the explosions tugged at my heart, and I felt that the impact Sam's death would have had on Dean wasn't fully explored. So this is a little one-shot that looks at what might have happened if Sam hadn't shown himself almost immediately after Gordon saw the shoe. Oh, and I obviously don't own Supernatural, or else I wouldn't be writing this.

Grief Prolonged

Gordon looked tense as he glanced in my direction. "Hear that? He's coming," he whispered. I could only glare at him as the gag muffled my curses, which was probably a good thing since I didn't really want to get backhanded again. The scratches of my brother picking at the lock could be clearly heard. When we got out of here, I was going to kick his ass for that – just because I've been kidnapped was no reason to be sloppy, after all. As the hinges creaked, I gave a little wince. Maybe I wouldn't kick his ass after all, he couldn't account for the poor taste in accommodations and hospitality Gordon was showing.

'Just stay calm, Dean. Sammy will get out of this alive. He's too smart to fall for a stupid tripwire.' I thought to myself, but then a niggling voice in the back of my head that sounded suspiciously like Gordon piped up. 'Yeah, not the first one, but that's what the second wire's for.' The sound of the explosion made my heart stop and I let out a 'Sam!' behind the gag. I had been sure he would have sussed out the first one, so sure that he wouldn't even have tripped it, but now I wasn't. Part of me still screamed 'Sam's alive!', so I held out a bit of hope. I would know if he was dead.

Gordon apparently didn't think so either, because he whispered again, almost like a fan cheering for their favorite athlete, in this case the tripwires, "Oh no, not yet. Just wait and see." He hadn't even turned his eyes from the back room.

I was still cursing behind the gag, and that traitorous part of me that kept whispering 'he's dead, Sammy's dead,' had brought more tears to my eyes since I had first heard Gordon's plan for killing Sam. I choked back a sob and turned my body as much as I could toward the room where the second wire was. It had been at least half a minute since the last explosion, and that seemed like too long for him to have survived the first blast unharmed and get past the second one. As I turned my head back towards Gordon, the second blast, much larger this time, rocked the house and tore out part of the wall. Splinters flew everywhere, both huge pieces of wood and pieces of my heart, because there was no way Sam had survived that second one. The explosion was just too big, too strong.

I sniffed and blinked my eyes furiously, trying to keep the tears at bay as Gordon got up and looked at me. I looked blurrily back at him and the pity in his eyes was too much – pity from the man who had just killed my little brother? The "Sorry, Dean," made it even worse, fuelled my forgotten rage. I rocked the chair, moving it toward him a few inches. But what could I do, tied up like this? I was helpless, and could only watch as his figure disappeared from my sight a few seconds.

As he left, so did my rage, and sorrow flooded in once again. 'Sam was – he was…' I couldn't finish the thought. Gordon's footsteps returned, but I didn't even look at him. His steps echoed until they were directly in front of me, but I still didn't look up. I wasn't going to give him the luxury and satisfaction of seeing my grief.

He threw something in my lap. It was Sam's shoe, still with an acrid burnt odor and smoke wafting out from the top. This was my proof, then. "This is all that's left. You can have it to remember him by, Dean." I let out another groaning sob as my tears finally succumbed to gravity and fell, hissing and evaporating as they hit the smoking remains in my lap. There weren't even ashes, just a shoe. Something he wore, for God's sake! Even ashes, so I could pretend to myself he'd been cremated like Dad, would have been better than a shoe.

"Looks like I've got a little mess to clean up now. Don't move, Dean," Gordon said as he stepped over the debris. But even if I wasn't tied up, there was no way I could have moved. My arms and legs were too heavy and numb with paralyzing grief. Not even after Dad had I felt like this, this empty. There was a thump from the back room I presumed was Gordon tossing the scraps into a pile.

I didn't even know how long it was before I heard the soft scuff of a shoe behind me. I was too lost in memories of Sam – Sam as a kid when he was still innocent about the things that went bump in the night, that half-smile he got when he didn't want to laugh but still thought something was funny, even the way he smelled with that girly shampoo and the pat on the shoulder when I cut off a chick flick moment. The smoky smell of the shoe mixed with phantom weight of his hand felt so real at that moment, like he was in the room. As the pressure lifted, I gave another small cry. I didn't care what Gordon thought anymore, I needed to let some of the grief out or I would choke on it.

Then a hand tugged on the ropes holding my arms to the chair as that oh-so-familiar voice washed over me. "Dean, are you ok? Look at me, Dean!" I had to be hallucinating, but I looked up in shock through eyes swimming with tears at the tall figure beside me. There was Sam – or my imagination, anyway, but it was something. His hand on my arm, rather than passing through like I expected, felt surprisingly solid, and deep in my heart something stirred. Maybe this was real? Maybe, somehow, in a miracle, Sam had survived and was here now.

In that instant, everything melted away, and I knew this was real. Sam was alive! As the bindings holding me in place fell away under Sam's nimble fingers, I ripped the gag off, wanting to voice so many of the questions running through my head. But one word instead came out – "Sam?" My voice cracked with grief, but I didn't care. Screw the chick flick rule – this was much more important.

He gave me that same half-smile and nodded. I moved and had him in a bone-crushing hug before he could blink, just taking a few seconds to hear his heartbeat, feel him breathing. Never one to turn down a moment, Sam's arms came just as fiercely around me. We stayed that way until I shifted, now uncomfortable with the embrace. "Gordon?" I asked, glancing into the back room.

Sam's look hardened a little. "He's taken care of. Trust me." I knew I should go back and check the bastard myself, so there was no way he could come after us again, but I just couldn't find the strength to care right now. I had Sam back, miraculously alive '(not dead!)', and that was all that mattered. Nothing else.

THE END

Leave a review and let me know what you thought – whether you liked it or thought it needed improvement somewhere, I'm not picky. I'm not very good at getting inside Dean's head – it's much easier for me to write Sam, but I tried my best with this. If you liked it, check out my other Supernatural one-shot and tell me what you thought about it.