Title: Recrudescence

Author: ghost4

Disclaimer: Not mine.

Author's notes: And this is it. Thanks for sticking with me on this one. Hope you enjoyed the ride.

As always, any comments, good, bad, or indifferent, are more than welcome.

Lonely feeling, deep inside
Find a corner where I can hide
Silent footsteps crowding me
Sudden darkness, but I can see

~The Guess Who - No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature

"Was it a bluff?"

They were sitting on the Impala's hood. After leaving the church Dean had bundled Sam into the car and drove, somewhere away from angels and demons and everything else. Sam slouched in the passenger seat, eyes closed and rubbing his head. He trembled like a rabbit caught in a snare one second, and tensed up, hands fisting like he was going to be sick the next… and Dean had no idea how to help him.

Eventually they found a clearing near a reservoir. Dean parked the car, prodding Sam out of the passenger seat, and into the cool night air. The car at night could sometimes feel unreal, the way the darn never changed, and the distant lights just floated in an out of sight. What Sam needed was firm reality right now. To know he was here.

So Dean pushed him out of the car, and they propped themselves up against the cold windshield, the metal hot under them as the engine slowly cooled, watching what little moonlight that made it through the clouds play against the water. Dean had gone back to the trunk, fetching out a couple of beers, and sat shoulder to shoulder with his brother. That was as real as Dean could make things.

And Sam…seemed to gain some control. The shivering slowed. His body relaxed. Eventually he was just sitting there, next to Dean, almost normal.


Which was about as much as Dean could expect…and a hell of a lot more then he'd ever thought possible three days ago.

And Dean was content…for awhile. Just sitting with Sam.

But eventually he had to ask.

"Was it a bluff? Or would you have let him back in?"

Sam didn't have to ask who he meant. A muscle in Sam's cheek jumped, but he only shrugged in response. He was tearing the label off of his bottle in long, thin strips.

"Huh." Dean took another long pull off his bottle. Sam was willing to destroy Heaven to save his family. Dean knew that should maybe worry him…but mostly he was just…strangely proud. And reassured. If Sam would do that for him, he would hold off Lucifer. For him.

"I think…" Sam started, eyes firmly pinned to his bottle. "I think…I may be a little…broken." His shoulders were hunched. He shivered again.

Dean sighed. Then swallowed. "I know. But we're getting you back. Piece by piece."

The late summer crickets sang.

The night was warm and quiet. His brother was here. Alive and warm and real. Everything else was fixable. Dean was good at fixing things.

Dean dropped a carefully wrapped packet on Sam's lap. He took another swallow and watched as Sam propped his now naked bottle against the windshield wiper, and stroked his fingers over the soft oil-cloth almost reverently. "It smells like Dad," he said.

Dean's throat closed. "Yeah. It does."

Sam's fingers picked at the tape. Not hurrying, not curious, just opening. The cloth fell open in his hands.

Sam picked up the Taurus, wrapping his hand around it like it was the most natural thing in the world. Dean watched the light play on the metal, so bright and sharp it made his eyes burn.

"Piece by piece," Dean muttered. "Welcome home, Sammy."

You're driven back now to places you've been to
You wonder what you're gonna find
You know you've been wrong but it won't be long
Before you leave 'em all far behind*


(*The Guess Who - No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature)