Disclaimer: I still don't own Supernatural or its characters. I and am not making any money on this…I'm just having fun!

Summary: Spoiler Alert – Tag to 5.22 It's not a matter of if, but when will the boys find each other again.

Raven 524: This story is taking place immediately following 5.22 Swan Song so if you haven't seen season 5 yet, you may want to stop reading. After watching the Season Finale my muse took off trying to answer the simple question—how will the boys get back together again. This is my take on what will happen after Sam appeared at Lisa's house. Don't worry I am working on my other stories but this one just wouldn't let me go until I had it written.

Second Chances

Chapter 1 – New Beginnings

Dean sat at the table as Lisa moved behind him. He felt her concern as she placed a hand on his shoulder. He still couldn't believe he was sitting here, in a house with the smell of an actual home cooked meal in the oven. Ben played quietly, glancing up at him for a brief moment before resuming his play. He was keeping his promise, but it was killing him.

His mind went back to the first moments after Sam had jumped into the pit, his brother's quiet "It'll be okay" was followed by a soft smile before he turned and hurdled himself, Lucifer and Michael into the pit. It seemed funny in a way, but somehow all the Winchesters—John, Dean and now Sam and Adam—had ended up in Hell. He gazed out the window expecting to see the tall silhouette he'd taken for granted but other than the light that flickered off and on occasionally, there was no sign.

"You hungry Dean?" Lisa asked softly as she began to set the table.

"Sure Lisa—ah, thanks…" He murmured as the images that followed him from sleep into the waking hours ran through his mind. Cas had healed him and Bobby and yet the one who had made the ultimate sacrifice hadn't been spared. When Cas asked him if he hadn't gotten what he wanted, freedom—he remembered thinking that he'd once heard freedom always came with a price. Too bad, he never considered the price would be his brother's soul.

He thought he could handle Sam's death and in a way, he could almost accept it. After all at some point one or both would eventually die. That isn't what kept him up at night, staring into a glass of Jack. No, it was the thought of what his brother was going through. He more than anyone understood what it meant; the remembered scent of blood and brimstone filled his mind as he recalled his own tour in the bowels of Hell. He had to believe his brother would be stronger than him and yet, part of him hoped Sam would give in sooner. The thought of the endless torture was more than he could bear.

There hadn't even been a body this time. All that remained of his brother was a lonely cross in a forgotten graveyard outside of Lawrence. Even the giant hole had sealed over as if nothing had happened. There was no record of the sacrifice his brother had made, no news flash or grateful world. Just two broken men standing in a field, eyes filled with tears to mark the passing of one of the greatest men he'd ever known.

"Come on Dean, it's been two months. He wouldn't want you to carry on this way…" Lisa picked up the plate with the uneaten food as she cleaned up. He'd been so absorbed in his memories that he hadn't even noticed the meal was done. Ben had been sent to bed and Lisa was merely waiting for him to follow her to the room they shared as well.

"I'll be in shortly Lisa—I'm sorry…" He seemed to be saying that a lot lately. The routine chores that he thought would help him fill his time meant nothing to him. He had tried to be a father figure to Ben, taking him to little league and against Lisa's wishes even worked with him on his fighting skills. It was during these training sessions that it hit him how much he missed his brother. The small dark haired boy was transformed into Sam at the same age—more than once he'd even called him Sammy. But Ben never complained, his dark eyes filled with understanding as he completed what was asked of him.

Dean knew that dark things still existed. He'd heard from Bobby a couple of times, but had never actually gone to see his old friend. Not even a month after Sam's death his old friend had begun hunting again. He'd said something about a Rawhead the last time they had talked, but Dean hadn't paid much attention. Sam hadn't wanted him to hunt and after all the grief he'd given his brother about not following his final wishes—he wasn't going to go back on his word.

He opened the fridge and grabbed a beer before he quietly exited the house. He moved slowly towards the only place he'd truly felt free. Her dark beauty shone now that he was living the normal life. He'd spent hours polishing her until she glistened. Even now the moon reflected off her smooth lines, calling to him as nothing else could. He ran his hand lightly over her cool metal finish. "Hey girl…want some company?"

The hunter smiled softly as he scooted up onto the hood and as he and Sam had done so many times in the past, he simply gazed up at the stars. As he looked up, he sometimes wondered how Cas was doing. Part of him was still angry at him for not doing more to bring Sam back. But then since when had God ever really answered any of his prayers? Sam was the one with the faith and even though Lisa had tried to get him to go to church with her and Ben, he couldn't seem to find even a small grain. He couldn't pray to a being that had been so cruel and uncaring.

"Ah Sammy, I wish you could hear me. I miss you little bro' but I want you to know I'm trying to keep my promise. I won't let you down and maybe someday, we'll be able to meet up again." Dean shook his head. It was the last hope, the last prayer he had sent heavenward. When he died, he wanted to end up in Hell beside his brother. He had no illusions any longer that Heaven held a place for him.

As he lifted the bottle to his lips, he swore he felt his brother's presence next to him. It almost felt like it had on those many nights where they simply sat and looked at the stars. No words were necessary. They had each other and that was enough. The light on the street corner flickered again making the hair on his neck stand up. But when nothing happened he figured it was just a faulty light.

"You'd laugh at me now Sammy. I've got an honest job and even help coach the local little league team that Ben is on. I don't look under the bed or check the closets any longer although I have trained Ben, just in case." Dean sighed. "I know there's still monsters in the dark but Bobby, Rufus and the others are still working so one less hunter shouldn't matter."

He drained the a last of the bottle as he continued to gaze at the stars and for a brief moment in time, he felt a sense of peace—of closeness to the one thing he could never have again. "Night Sammy…" Dean said softly as he jumped down from the hood, tossed the beer bottle in the recycling bin beside the house and headed for the room he now shared with Lisa.

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

The young nurse named Abbey Sinclair moved quietly into the room where her young patient lay deathly still. It had been over two months and still they had no idea who he was or why he remained in the coma. All medical tests showed he was healthy, except for the fact that he wouldn't wake.

She remembered reading his chart. A trucker had found him lying beside a lonely stretch of road, no car in sight. It was a mystery on how he got there but the local police figured it was probably a car jacking of some kind. Still, other than a few twitches now and then, the man had remained unnaturally quiet.

"Don't you worry John, some day you'll wake up and we'll finally get you back to where you belong." She grasped the large hand in her own small one and squeezed before she continued about her duties, checking to ensure that the equipment and tubes providing him with the necessary life support were working properly. "All looks good, you take it easy and when you're ready—we'll be here to help you…"

She shivered slightly as a slight cold breeze brushed past her. She glanced around but there was nothing but the soft sounds of the equipment. Shaking her head she made a few notes on the clipboard and left the room. There were other patients that required her attention.

Abbey paused and looked back at the lonely figure. Her blue eyes filled for a brief moment at the unfairness. Some how she had a feeling he didn't deserve this and some where there had to be a person or family who were looking for him. She placed her pen behind her ear as she pushed her long blonde hair back. It wasn't fair, but working at the rehab center brought her in touch with many cases that were the same. "See you later John." She said finally as she quietly closed the door.

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Castielle stood inside the room and looked down at the quiet young man he'd come to call a friend. He still felt what had to be the emotion called guilt as he remembered his first impression of the hunter. He'd believed at that time that the man was destined for evil and yet, in the end it had been the strength of this one human—buoyed by the faith of his brother that had stopped the apocalypse.

Even when he'd given up all hope, Sam continued to have faith that in the end things would work out. Dean had surprised him as well when he'd said no to Michael and even faced down Lucifer and Michael on the battlefield. The Winchesters had never truly given up. Yes, they had moments of despair, but in the end both had come through to fulfill the role destiny had dictated for them. The difference was, they did it their way.

He gazed upward and sighed. "Father, I don't know why you have done this but I have to believe both of them are meant to be together. Please tell me what to do…"

The angel continued to look up for a moment longer before with a soft sigh, he disappeared leaving Sam Winchester as he had found him. The words that flowed through his mind did nothing to set him at ease. "Have faith…"

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

The first thing he remembered was the searing pain as he continued to wrestle with the demon trapped inside him. He could feel his brother Adam's hands around his throat, the Archangel Michael trying even until the end to bring about the end of the world. For a brief moment Sam felt anger as the two siblings continued to fight. This had all come down to one brother who blindly followed orders of an absent father and the other who fought against that father's control.

It echoed his own past but where he and Dean had managed to overcome and persevere, these two continued to be locked in the battle that no one would win. A final burst of pain was followed by a blinding burst of white light. As the light dimmed he found himself in the only home he'd known—the Impala. Only this time there was no road, just a blanket of stars surrounding him as he gazed outside the windows.

"Where am I?" Sam said softly. He gripped the wheel tightly as if it could provide him with the answers he sought but nothing happened. On some level he recognized this place, it held a familiarity to it and yet he couldn't quite place it.

For what seemed like days or maybe even years, his mind assaulted him with all the wrong decisions he'd made. Lucifer's voice brought up all his weaknesses and yet in the end he had one thing he could say he'd done right. He'd listened to his brother and drawn the strength he needed to hold Lucifer and jump into the pit. He could still hear his battered brother's voice, telling him he was there for Sam and he would not leave him. For the brief moment before he took the final plunge their eyes had met, both accepting that this was the way it had to be; they finally understood each other after years of sibling rivalry and petty arguments.

Together they stood firm against both Heaven and Hell. Where Michael and Lucifer couldn't see past blaming each other for what they perceived as a weakness, Sam and Dean had embraced in each other. They were finally acting like brothers again and more importantly like partners. In the end, it was their choice together that allowed them to defeat their foe. Of course, it did little to diminish the ever widening hole in Sam's heart as he realized he may never see his brother again.

He had a sudden need to see Dean; all he wanted to know was that he was okay. As if something heard him he felt a strange pull at his middle, the stars were now overhead as a light flickered above him. He gazed into the window of a house he recognized. "Dean…" His voice whisper soft floated on the breeze and he watched his brother reach up to squeeze Lisa's hand.

The ache he felt dimmed slightly as he realized he was being allowed to actually see his sibling. He moved closer and blinked as he found himself standing next to the Impala. Her body shone as the moonlight hit her surface. He remembered the last time he'd seen her. The memories once more surging forward, their whole life tied to the hunk of gleaming metal that had become their home.

He glanced up as he heard the screen door open and close. Dean walked slowly out towards the car, a beer in his hand as he climbed onto the hood. Sam knew what his brother was doing and with a soft smile climbed up next to him. He reached out a hand to touch, but it went through his brother. He watched as Dean scowled for a moment and looked around before settling back against the windshield.

"I'm so sorry Sammy…" his older sibling choked as a soft sob was wrenched from him. Sam watched as slowly the tears began to fall. He began to reach for his brother only wanting to comfort but then stopped. He wasn't sure why he was here, but somehow he'd become some kind of spirit. He smiled softly as he realized maybe it was some small reward—a sign of forgiveness for the evil he'd unleashed.

"Don't worry Dean, I'm fine and you will be too—you'll see…" Sam whispered as he felt himself being pulled back to the other Impala. Tears filled his eyes as he gazed at the same stars his brother was looking at. "Thank you…" he said softly to whatever had pulled him from the pit. He wasn't sure where he was, but he was pretty sure if he'd been in Hell, it would feel different.

Time had no meaning as the young hunter sat and watched. The routine now familiar as he felt a tug and would find himself waiting by the Impala for Dean's nightly ritual. His brother spoke to him then as if he was still there. He'd tell him about his day, his frustrations but most of all he always told him how much he missed Sam. While time had no meaning for Sam, it was clear time was passing for his brother.

Unfortunately, the more time that passed, the more despondent his brother seemed. The spark that had lit green eyes with fire during a hunt was now banked. While it was clear Dean loved Lisa and Ben, Sam felt as if his brother was still unhappy. When he'd made Dean make that promise, he'd only meant to let him do what made him happy. Instead, the promise had become another duty that his big brother would fulfill no matter what the cost.

At those times where Sam was in what he now called the daytime hours of the limbo world he existed in, he wondered at the wisdom of him making his brother promise to live the normal life. Normal for them had never been white picket fences, or Saturday afternoon ball games. Instead it had been researching for the next hunt, playing pool or poker at the local bar to pad their wallets or crashing on a lumpy bed in some no name hotel. Even when Lucifer had thought he'd won and his brother lay at his feet a bloody mass of broken bones, those eyes had held the spark that made his brother Dean Winchester.

He wondered why Dean never spoke of Bobby other than to tell him during one of their nightly 'conversations' that Cas had returned and healed them both. Evidently Cas had returned to heaven while Bobby had continue to hunt. But his brother never spoke of either to him again. It was almost as if he had closed the door to the whole world that had anything to do with their old life. This wasn't what he'd wanted for Dean but he didn't know how to fix it.

"Well it's about time…" A voice he remembered filled the silence of the car. His heart beat rapidly as he glanced up and looked in the rear view mirror. He'd been alone for so long except for the brief visits with his brother he wasn't sure if he was imagining the familiar figure or not. The young hunter blinked as the familiar face of Gabriel winked at him.

"But your…"

"Dead, I know. Just a mere inconvenience actually. I'm not sure why but apparently my father decided that he had other work for me to do." Gabe smiled at the confused hunter before he continued. "And before you ask, no I haven't spoken to him but there is one thing I do know and that is only he had the power to bring me and Castielle back after my brother had disposed of us."

"I'm sorry…" Sam replied softly. He knew deep down Gabe still loved his brothers just like he loved Dean. He was sure it hurt to know your own brother had hated you enough to actually kill you. It also had to be hard to realize they both were gone.

"Believe it or not Sam, I'm okay with the way things worked out. My two brothers will have an eternity to work on their differences and the rest of us can relax. I may even pick up with Kali and see where it leads." He winked lasciviously at Sam as he leaned back.

"But you have questions, so let me start by telling you what you may have already guessed. You're not in Hell…"

"or Heaven…" Sam replied as he nodded.

"True, but believe it or not Sam, you have been given a second chance." Gabe's eyes gleamed in the mirror as the young hunter tried to follow the angel.

"So how long do I have to stay here in…in…" Sam stuttered still unsure what to call the place he'd been existing in.

"Limbo or if you prefer purgatory—you say tomato, I say tomahto—same name for what is essentially a platform for those who are given a choice." The Archangel grinned.

"A choice of what exactly?" Sam asked cautiously. He had grown to trust Gabe, especially after what had happened at the demi-god convention but he also knew the angel wasn't good at giving them direct answers. Besides, what choice could he possibly have?

"That's right, the Wheel of Fortune has spun and you've landed on the free spin. So what's it gonna be Sammy?"

"I don't understand…" Sam began and stopped as he saw the angel roll his eyes and cross his arms.

"And they say you're the smart one. You'd think you would get it right away. After all this isn't your first trip on this merry-go-round." Gabe looked at him thoughtfully before he snapped his fingers. "But you don't remember do you?"

"Remember what exactly?" Sam was getting a little annoyed, but then at least the being was company. It was the one thing that had been the hardest to bear during his stay. Sure he'd get a few moments with Dean at night, but most of the time he was lone, with his own thoughts, his memories and worse his regrets.

"Cold Oaks ring a bell?" The Archangel said as he leaned forward. "No? Well let me refresh your memory. Jake stabbed you in the back, Dean made a deal and you returned. Of course that time the decision was made for you by an impatient brother. But it was all part of Michaels grand plan to face off with Lucifer.

"So I was here?" Sam's eyebrow rose.

"Yep, bingo—give the man a cigar!" Gabe chuckled softly.

"So why am I still here?" Sam asked softly.

"Because Sam—you haven't believed you deserved to accept God's grace—you haven't wanted to go where you truly belong because down deep in the twisted yet beautiful soul you don't think you deserve a second chance…"

TBC