Title: Withdrawal

Author: Starrylizard"

Warnings/genre: PG13+ for some swearing, Gen, H/C

Notes: Post-S4, but no spoilers for S5 as I am spoiler-free and want to stay that way. A comment fic that has been tweaked and beta read by Rinne.

Summary: Coming off demon-blood wasn't like any other addiction. Why should it be? It was sent from Hell itself. Predictability would have made things far too easy.

Sam didn't know how they'd managed to get away. The last thing he remembered was the feeling of guilt and dread, blinding light and Dean…

The next time he was aware of anything they were driving through the dark of night, headlights illuminating trees and road. The window felt cool against his hot skin. They weren't in the Impala, but it wasn't Ruby's stolen ride either and for that small favour Sam was grateful. Dean must have found another car to jack. It's one less thing to remind Sam of his stupidity and deception, his shame.

"You with me?" Dean asked. His grip was tight on the wheel, his voice strained as he continued to stare ahead at the road.

"Sam?" Dean turned and looked Sam straight in the eye, worry creasing the tight line of his mouth and crinkling up his brow. "Sam?" he asked a third time, anger creeping into his tone, and Sam realised he hadn't answered yet.

"Yeah," he managed, croaking out the word around his dry mouth and sandpaper tongue. His whole body was shuddering. It felt not unlike sitting on one of those beds equipped with the Magic Fingers that Dean liked so damn much, only this wasn't at all pleasurable. "Where are we?"

"No idea. Corner of fucking nowhere and a forest. I figured civilisation isn't what we need right now."

Sam moved to nod his head, but found it was too heavy; his neck was too weak to hold its weight. Dean's hand shot out, warm palm pressing into his chest and keeping him seated.

"Hey, we'll stop soon. Just hang in there, okay." The car was slowing down, steered onto a sideline of dirt and trees. Somewhere that was no where. The engine idled and then stopped.

Sam met Dean's tired eyes for a moment before his vision was swimming, slipping and shifting sideways and under…

He thought he knew what to expect this time – pain, hallucinations, shaking, cramps and sweats – basically a living hell of desperation and need. But, coming off demon-blood wasn't like any other addiction. Why should it be? It was sent from Hell itself. Predictability would have made things far too easy.

"Dean." Sam clutched desperately at the brother he wasn't even sure was there any more. All sight, sound and feeling was fading; even the feel of the rough fabric of Dean's shirt held tight in his hands was numb and distant.

The heat and sweat and sharp tang of blood overwhelmed him as the visions struck in wave after wave of light and nausea and sulphur scent. A nightmare of his own creation or a future soon to be.

Angel versus demon, people screaming and crying, burning and pain. An unbearable searing of nerve-endings and flesh rent from bone.

Hang on, Sam…

Blood, pain, clash of power and ozone. The heady smell of copper.

Sam… Goddammit!

It was all his fault - all the pain and loss, this war. Hell unleashed on Earth.

The images ramped up, coming faster and stronger, blinding and curling. Shifting. Castiel's voice spoke quietly, yet impossibly loud: "Dean can save us. …destiny."

Sammy, shit, please…

He could hear someone screaming. He snapped his jaw shut, the screaming stopped and he tumbled into darkness.

Waking up was like swimming through lead. There was a warmth at his neck - fingers resting on his pulse point he realised distantly. Through slitted eyes, he glimpsed a fuzzy image of his brother leaning over him. Dean's eyes were at half mast, the blue bruising of exhaustion standing out against pale skin. He looked about ready to drop off to sleep. Sam's head rested in his lap.

Sam's entire body was heavy, his muscles cramping as his body continued to shudder. He groaned and willed the darkness to swallow him up. He closed his eyes again.

"Sam?" There was a hand tapping insistently at his cheek, another holding his jaw. "Sam, come on. Time to wake up. Sam, goddammit." The last was said with a hint of anger – the kind of anger formed of worry and impatience – and it snapped Sam back to awareness.

"Sam, come on," Dean coaxed. Fingers pried Sam's eyelids back and Sam managed to roll his uncooperative eyeballs in the right direction, to focus on his brother's face.

"Oh thank…" Dean paused, voice hitching on the word God, and he swallowed instead. "Thought I'd lost you there, Sam."

"Hey Dean," Sam's voice was a raspy whisper, his throat raw, like maybe he'd been screaming. Maybe he had been; honestly he wasn't sure.

Sam let Dean lever his head up a little, dribble some water onto his lips. It felt good sliding down his throat, but he tried to swallow too much and choked. His head was turned to the side while he coughed and spluttered.

"Hey, not so fast." Dean spoke gently now, his hand came to rest on Sam's chest near his heart as he was rolled back.

Dean was there. A younger, simpler part of his mind clutched at that fact. If Dean was there, maybe things could still be okay. From his position, propped against Dean's legs, Sam could see the sky through a canopy of trees. Nearby, a small campfire was burning down to its last spark of warmth and the sun was rising, tinging the sky with crimson.