Greatest Strength

Disclaimer: They aren't mine.

Beta'd: By Phx who caught all my changing VP directions and the big missing piece in the second half. Thank you!

Special Thanks: To: Muffy who played devil's advocate, but in the end, it is what it is - and to Caroline for convincing me to stop tinkering with it and post already.

Time Line: Early Season 5 (unless I get totally Kripke'd). BG.


I'm awake, can't sleep. It's not unusual anymore; exhaustion running rampant through my veins, but my brain doesn't care. I just can't stop thinking, worrying, mulling over everything that's happened.

Splashing cold water on my face doesn't help, not that I thought it would. It does get rid of all the sweat from my latest nightmare though, and somehow that's oddly reassuring. The room feels small and confining, but I don't dare leave. I don't want Dean to wake up alone in the middle of the night, wondering where I am or what I'm doing. There's been enough of that already.

I stride to the window, gazing out over the barren parking lot. The full moon illuminates the woods just beyond the asphalt, casting shadowy fingers back towards the room. The world feels empty, sad, or maybe it's just me. I'm not sure.

My mind races and while I know I should be sleeping, I don't try to stop the churning thoughts.

I was so afraid of hurting him, of hurting anyone.

The abilities, the visions, the ominous words spoken by Azazel in the cabin, I was petrified of what it meant. Nothing bad's gonna happen to you as long as I'm around. You're not evil, Sam. I know you, it wasn't you. Somewhere along the way that year, I guess I believed him.

That was before. Before I died which is surreal and disjointed for me. I remember the fight with Jake, the pain, Dean, and then waking up in the cabin on that stinky mattress. I don't remember anything about being dead, you'd think I would. The only thing I remember is a vague floating sensation of peace.

It was before our lives unraveled, before he made that untenable deal. It wasn't worth it. I don't care what he says, or how many people we've saved since then. Dean's time in hell? Not worth it. He told me not to be a martyr, to stop spreading it for the demons. You're my weak spot, Sammy, you are, and I'm yours – and those evil sons of bitches know it, too. What we both forgot is it also works in reverse. Dean's also my greatest strength, he always has been.

I'm not ready to face everything, not yet. I want to be, because I know it's the only way we'll get past it. Guilt, pain, fear, anger, and regret churn in my gut, twisting until a low groan escapes. I'm not okay. I think something's broken inside and I'm not sure it can be fixed.

I turn away from the window, gazing down at the moonlight streaking across my brother's face. He's sleeping, or pretending to. Giving me the space I need to deal without crowding me. I sit down heavily on the bed, body tired, heart more so.

"Please don't give up on me, Dean," I whisper.

He stirs, his arm flinging off the bed into the expanse between us, his fingers barely graze my knee. I see his face scrunch up before he draws in a deep breath. "Go to sleep, Sammy," he mumbles quietly on the exhale.

So, I do.


He's awake again.

From the first shuddered breath I know it's going to happen. I don't need the low moans as the nightmare takes shape or the half-muttered, I'm sorry to know he's not going to get much sleep tonight. It means I won't either.

When he goes into the bathroom, I shift on the bed getting more comfortable. I'm not going to coddle him, that won't help. He needs to know he can do this on his own, without me, without her, without the demon blood. I help when I can, but sometimes the best help I can give him is to pretend I don't notice, and give him time to deal with it on his own terms.

I have a flash of guilt and doubt when he doesn't come out right away. I want to trust Sam so much it hurts, but it's hard. No matter what his reasons were or how much he thought he was protecting me, or afraid of me, or whatever his muddled thoughts tell him now, he lied to me. He lied to me for nearly a year, during which I may have kept painful truths from him, but I didn't lie. At a time when we needed to trust each other more than ever before, neither of us did it seems.

What am I supposed to do? Tear a strip off him? Question his every motive from now on? It feels too hypocritical. Yeah, I'd been distracted by angels, but that wasn't my crime, it was barely a footnote. Demons had changed me, too. It doesn't matter that it took years of fire, and cutting, and blood, and pain to change me or that Sam shot light speed through the process in less than a year, the result was the same. We were both half-steps away from monsters.

I was happy, no, I was elated when I got down off that rack. All the decades of pain before blurred into a pool of blackness from where no clear memories could escape. I was empowered and in control. I decided the punishment of the souls put before me. I took back some of the dignity they took from me through others. I almost lost myself down there.

Even now, the memories of what I did are the nightmares that haunt my dreams. Without my brother, I don't think I would have had the strength to fight back from that place. No matter what happened this past year, it's Sam who keeps me fighting. Bobby was right, we are family and family means everything to me. Sam means everything to me.

I know he's sitting there just watching me and I find it strangely comforting because a brooding Sam is my Sam. He's not as sure of right and wrong which, ironically, puts him on the side of right in a way I don't think he's been since last summer. He's hurting though, and I hate that. I don't want him to hurt, but I can't fix this for him. I know from my own experience, he's got to work through it on his own or he'll never get past it. I need him to know he's strong enough to do it. After this past year, without the demon-'roid juice, I'm not sure he believes he is. I guess I'll have to believe enough for both of us.

"Please don't give up on me, Dean,"Sam whispers.

So, I don't.


AN: This story wraps up one of the three-pronged writing challenges I created for myself this summer.

Write what I want to see happen.

Write what I miss seeing.

Write about my favorite prevailing theme.

The final list looked like this:

Forgiveness and Rebuilding

Family (could include Sam, Dean, John, Bobby, Mary, but the primary focus on the brothers).

Everyday Heroes (everyday men, doing the right thing, for the right reasons – saving people, hunting things, the family business).

To those of you who humored me this summer (by reading) thank you! Prong one is complete. :)