Tag for 5.22. Spoilers obviously. Unbeta'd. This is kinda rough around the edges but I really disliked the ending so I needed to fix it. I hope this helps.
My brother is a good man.
Not perfect, but what other people would call character flaws, I consider his most endearing features.
So as I stand here and watch him, my heart is conflicted.
I want to go to him. To wipe the sorrow off his face that I see riding the smile he shadows at Lisa, but I can't…
I am afraid.
I have no idea why I am here.
My last memory was of darkness, pain and blood. It is with cruel empathy I now understand my brother better as I have my own memories to expound on what I'd only guessed his time in hell was like.
I was there.
Then I was here.
Silent as my own darkness, but I don't understand why.
And it is this uncertainty that scares me.
I watch a little longer although it shreds at me, and I know the wetness on my face but refuse to wipe it away.
I relish tears and pain because I am happy for him.
He deserves so much more than me, and if this is all I can give him, I will.
Until I understand what I am and what that will mean for us...to him... I will continue to watch.
If he really needs me, I will be here.
I have no idea what I am anymore but there is one thing I will always be.
And someday, that might just be enough.
Four Months Later:
The sound of low rumbling had Bobby Singer frowning. It had a familiar hitch in the engine that made his own stomach tighten and he was already hurrying from the back of the scrap yard towards the front of the house before the black beast slowed to a stop.
Puffing slightly from his run, Bobby rolled his eyes at the lop-sided grin that the younger man afforded him as Dean shoved open the heavy door and slowly pulled his six foot frame out of the car.
"Hey, Bobby," came the gruff greeting.
"Dean, boy, it's good to see ya," the old hunter made short work of the distance between them and grabbed Dean in a tight hug.
Dean returned the affection briefly before pulling away. A weary hazel gaze appraised Bobby and the older man frowned. "You okay?" It really was a stupid question; since Detroit neither of them had been okay but they pretended for Sam's sake. For Sam's memory.
"I could use a beer," Dean admitted, paused a moment then added, "and a place to stay… for a little while."
Bobby knew. And had actually been half expecting this. He knew Dean cared about this Lisa girl and her kid, but the apple pie life just wasn't meant for a Winchester. Especially not one with a half a soul still trapped in hell. "Aw, kid. You don't even need to ask. Grab your gear, I'll get the whiskey."
The flash of gratitude hurt. Dean should know better than that. He was family. And now they were all they had.
Leading the way back into the house, Bobby quickly pulled out a half drunk bottle of whiskey and two glasses as Dean put his duffle on the end of the couch and looked around the room. Of course the kid wouldn't want to stay in his usual room – his and Sam's usual room…
"I'll bring down some extra blankets in a bit," was all he said to acknowledge Dean's choice.
Dean gave him a brief nod. Scrubbed a hand across his tired looking face then joined Bobby at the table.
Both men drank quietly for a few moments. Neither needing to say anything to know what the other was thinking about but finally after about ten minutes, Dean spoke it out loud. "I want him back, Bobby. I need him back."
"Dean," Bobby started although, for the life of him, he had no idea what he next he was going to say. Dean interrupted him and saved him the speech.
"There has to be some way. Something."
"Dean," the older hunter sighed out the name as he shook his head. "You know there ain't."
"Sam," Oh God help him but it hurt to say the name, "your brother, when you were hell, he tried… he looked. He tried everything. There's nothing, kid, nothing."
And Bobby had looked again too after Dean had left to go to Lisa's. He'd poured over every tome and text he could find, if for no other reason then to feel like he was doing something.
Sam had gone to hell to save the world. It only seemed the right thing to do.
Another round was poured. The afternoon was getting late.
"What about Crowley?" Dean suddenly asked.
The demon's name made Bobby flinch. He hadn't seen the creature since he found out how badly he'd been duped by it. Sure it got them Death's ring but it also neutered the Winchesters… Winchester... and Bobby hated that he was being used as leverage.
"What about him?" he couldn't keep the gruffness out of his voice.
"He might be able to help-"
"He's the king of the crossroads-"
"You are not making any more deals!" Bobby shouted, his hands shaking as he stood up. "Haven't we learned our lessons about all that?" This had to stop.
Dean's jaw clicked shut, tight and angry. His face went stone cold.
Bobby sat back down; he took a deep breath and tried to keep himself calm. "Son, I know you're hurting but this ain't the way. No more deals, Dean. You promised Sam."
"I also promised him that I'd hook up with Lisa and look how well that turned out. Look, Bobby," Dean leaned across the table, his eyes wide and earnest. "I know Sammy was just trying to make sure I didn't do anything stupid… but he was wrong. He was wrong about what I needed. Yeah, Lisa and Ben are great, they are, but that's not me, man. White picket fence? Mini van? I tried. I did, really, and it helped. In a way… but he was wrong about that and he's wrong about this… I can't leave him there, Bobby. I can't."
Rubbing a hand against his jaw, Bobby exhaled loudly. His heart bled for these boys. They deserved better than this.
"If you don't want to help me. Fine," Dean pushed on. "But I am summoning Crowley and see if he knows a way to get Sam out of the cage."
"Without any deals?" Bobby added.
Something flashed briefly behind Dean's eyes and the older man got the impression that he was about to be lied to –
"Without any deals."
- and let it go. Sam don't own the market on Winchester stubbornness or determination. The only thing Bobby could hope, is that if he was with Dean, he could try to keep him from doing something too stupid.
"Fine, you stubborn s'nabitch, we'll summon Crowley."
And that called for a double shot of whiskey.
Crowley didn't look over pleased to see them.
"Geez, guys," he gave them a put out look. "I was in the middle of something important. He was build like a-"
"Yeah, well, sorry about that," Dean interrupted, anything but. "So let's keep it short and sweet then. How can I get Sam out of the hole?"
The demon looked at him, puzzled for a moment and then comprehension beetled his brow. "You mean the cage?"
"The cage. The pit. Hell, whatever. How do I get him out?" Dean was too tired for dicking around. The last four months had been long. Sure there were nice moments – he hadn't been lying when he said he cared about Lisa and Ben – but the majority had been hell. Just freakin', waking, breathing, talking, walking, hell.
Crowley looked at Bobby for a moment and then turned back to Dean. He cocked his head to the side and frowned. "You really don't know, do you?"
"Know?" Dean wasn't liking the sound of this. "Know what?"
"Sam. He's isn't in the pit anymore. An angel yanked him out months ago… although the rumor is, that it was God himself."
Dean stared at the demon. His heart started to pound, terrified to hope. "You're lying," he spat. There was no way. No way. He'd know. Sammy would have come to him–
And then Dean froze. His face paled. No, Sammy would not have. If he thought Dean was happy, Sam would have walked away. "Damn him," he muttered, turning away from Crowley, his hand going up to rub at his mouth.
Bobby was saying something but the words were muted as Dean just suddenly felt sick. His brother was alive. Sam was alive. Relief swept him and rounded on the demon. "Where is he?" he demanded. "Where is my brother?"
Crowley put up his hands in a defensive gesture as he backed up a step. "Look I dunno, okay? No one knows. He's in hiding or something. And proper thing too, I'd say." He admitted.
Dean's eyes narrowed. "What do you mean by that?"
"Oh c'mon, pretty boy," the demon scoffed making Dean's skin crawl. "Your boy took out our pitch hitter. Every demon and demon wannabe will be scouring topside looking for that kid. Lucifer wants Sam back, Dean. He wants your brother back in the pit, on the rack, and under his mercy... Of which there will be none."
"Just swell," Dean growled. "Freaking swell. Feels like old times already." He paced between Crowley and Bobby, trying to think where Sam might be. Dean had been able to find the kid after he got back from hell himself, but what were the chances Sam was carrying a cell phone this time? "Damn. Damn. Damn."
Crowley watched him for a few minutes and then offered. "I might have an idea."
Dean was on him in a second. "What?"
"Well, there is someone who would know where your brother is."
"You just said no one knows," Bobby cut in, his glance shifting from Dean to the demon.
"Technically he isn't really an anyone… but it is more kinda his job to know where everyone is at all times then anything else. 'Cause well, he's not exactly someone anyone can run from."
Dean made a grab for Crowley, pissed off with his games, but the demon quickly blinked away and was back on the other side of the room in a breath. "Damnit!"
"Now, now, Dean. Don't be like that or else I won't feel like sharing."
Dean forced himself to calm down. He grit his teeth. "Okay. Talk."
"Actually you know him." Before Dean could lunge again, the demon tossed out. "Death. The horseman, Death. He'll know where Sam is."
The hunter frowned and tipped his head at the thought. It made sense. There was no hiding from Death…
"Fair enough," Bobby spoke before Dean. "But do you think he's just going to tell us where Sam is?"
Crowley shrugged, his beady eyes on the younger hunter. "I dunno. But he likes Dean."
That made Dean scoff as he thought back to his conversation with the horseman. "I think 'like' is the wrong word."
"Hey," the demon argued. "You met him and survived. Hell, he even gave you his ring. I'd say that puts you in his fave five."
"But why would he just tell me where Sammy is?" Dean shook his head again. "The ring thing, I get. He wanted the devil gone but now – I got nothing he wants."
"And no more deals," Bobby interceded as if Dean had forgot that little addendum.
Dean glared at his old friend.
"It wouldn't hurt to ask," Crowley offered. "Worse he could do is kill you."
"Oh gee," Dean snorted. "That's positive."
"Up to you, Dean-O," the little man's tone was condescending. "You could just try to find your brother yourself. Not like he's been back for months and you didn't even know he was around… oh wait." He grinned and Dean resisted taking a swipe at him with Ruby's knife.
"Fine," Dean didn't like it but he wanted to find his brother more. "Do you know where we can find him?"
But Crowley was already gone.
Dean was tired and frustrated. The demon had disappeared hours earlier and they'd been unable to summon him back.
Bobby was researching and making calls in the kitchen, trying to find some way of finding Death (or Sam) as Dean tried to think of where his brother might go.
But he kept drawing blanks mostly because he had no idea what Sam's frame of mind was like. It was different before. Before Dean could guess based on whether or not Sam was angry, sad, grieving, drunk – but this time Dean had no idea what was going on in Sam's head. Was his brother even okay? From the sounds of it, Dean didn't think Sam had been in the pit for very long, but even a moment was too long.
He shivered as he tried not to think of how alone Sam must feel.
"Why?" he whispered under his breath. "Why didn't you come find me?"
Dean still had his cell, Sam could have called.
But deep down, he already knew the answer. Sam – stupid kid – thought Dean was better off. That he'd get past his grief and live that sweet life that Sam always wanted for his brother.
The thought twisted Dean's lips into a fond smile. "You stupid, stupid, kid," he breathed out softly. "When I find you, I am going to beat the living crap out of you for being so stupid… although then I suppose, I'll have to listen to you bitch and whine as I patch you right back up." God help him, but Dean couldn't wait.
And then Death suddenly appeared in the middle of Bobby's living room.