Chapter Eight

Dean waited as Sam stood in front of Chuck with his eyes closed. Slowly, Sam's eyes opened, and he looked around in confusion. When his eyes lighted on Dean, they widened, and he began breathing faster.

"Dean?" asked Sam.

"Yeah, Sam," said Dean. "It's really me. You're back."

Sam's eyes darted back and forth, as though he wasn't sure what he was seeing. As Dean slowly approached him, he backed up into the hall, slamming into the wall.

"Easy, Sammy," said Dean. "Easy."

Sam pressed himself into the wall, unsure of where to go as his resolve began to crumble.

Dean held his hands out in front of him in a placating gesture. "I'm here, Sammy. I'm here."

Dean finally reached Sam, who tensed as Dean pulled him into his arms. Sam remained tense and immovable for all of two seconds before he collapsed in Dean's arms. They both went down to the floor, Dean holding Sam in his arms. Sam clung onto Dean, holding him close.

"Hey, I'm here," said Dean. "You're safe. I'm not going anywhere."

Sam drew in shaky breaths as he grasped at Dean. He began sobbing as Dean held him tight.

"You're safe, Sammy."

Sam loosened his grip as his head fell onto Dean's shoulder. Dean pulled him back to find out he'd passed out.

"Dammit," said Dean. He looked up at Chuck. "Thanks, Chuck. I got it from here."

Chuck placed a hand on Dean's shoulder. "Take care of him."

Dean nodded. "I will."

Chuck disappeared, and Dean pulled Sam into his arms. He carried him back to his bedroom, settling him under the covers.

"I'm right here, Sammy," said Dean. "I'm not going anywhere."

Five hours later…

Dean was jolted out of his semi-conscious vigil when he heard a whimper from the bed. Sam was tossing and turning under the covers. Dean came to stand next to Sam's bed, leaning over him.

"Sammy," Dean coaxed gently. Sam seemed to calm slightly at Dean's voice. Taking his cue, Dean placed a hand on Sam's shoulder as he sat on the bed next to him. "Sam, wake up. It's me, Dean."

Sam's eyes opened and locked onto Dean. He clasped onto Dean's hand, squeezing it to prove it was real.

"You okay?" asked Dean. Sam looked up at him. "Sorry, stupid question."

Sam nodded shakily. "I'm okay. I'll be okay."

"You sure?" asked Dean. Sam nodded, loosening his hold on Dean's hand, but not letting it go. "You need anything?"

"Water," said Sam.

"Okay," said Dean. He looked down at Sam's grip on his hand. "I'm gonna need my hand." Sam's eyes widened at the thought that Dean was leaving. "Hey, hey. I'm just gonna be in the next room, okay? I'm not leaving, but I have to get up. Is that okay?"

Sam nodded and slowly released Dean's hand. Dean stayed with Sam a couple more seconds before getting up off the side of the bed. He began humming as he made his way out the door, making sure Sam heard him while he moved to the kitchen. He quickly got a cup of water and returned to the room. Sam was now sitting against the headboard, and he released a held breath when he saw that Dean had returned and not left or been taken.

Dean smiled warmly as he quit his humming. He handed over the water. As Sam took great gulps, Dean took in the sweaty brow, dark eyes and pale skin on Sam's face. "You look like death warmed over."

Sam lowered the cup, looking at Dean in confusion. He then cracked a smile, laughing. "Right back at ya."

"Hey, I am the picture of health and beauty," said Dean.

"Sure, Dean," said Sam. "Whatever you say."

The both of them laughed a little.

Dena watched Sam for a moment. "You okay?"

Sam looked up at him and back down at the blankets. "Honestly…" he looked up at Dean, "no." He smiled. "But I'll be okay. We'll get through this."

"We?" asked Dean.

"Yeah, we. I mean…you're my brother. It's why I chose to come back."

"You remember the last four months?"

"Yeah. I mean, it's not like God traded one set of memories for another. He just…pulled the mask off."

Dean frowned. "That's a good question: why would you give up your perfect life and family and future for this life?"

Sam frowned, staring incredulously at Dean. "You seriously have to ask me that?"

"No, it's—the only memories you had were from the books. Why would you willing become a hunter and choose that life?"

"Well…I had the books." Sam shifted on the bed, preparing to explain. "It's one of the reasons why the books appealed so much to me in the first place. I wanted that family."

Dean frowned. "I thought you had the perfect family."

Sam huffed out a laugh. "No." He quickly corrected himself. "Not that they were horrible, but they certainly weren't perfect. I wanted a family that wouldn't judge me." He caught Dean's confused look. "You know what I mean. I wanted a family who would love me no matter what. Whenever things were bad or I was stressed, you know who I ran to?" Dean shook his head. "Friends…classmates…coworkers. I only went to the Turners when it got really bad. I wanted a family so close they were your best friend. That's what I'd been missing the past four months. Yeah, sure, we may be cursed, we may not have any family left, we may be in danger on a near day-to-day basis, and either one of us could get killed on the next hunt…but whatever they threw at us, we still chose family. That's why I came back."

Dean smiled as Sam finished, and they looked at each other for a moment.

"That conversation was way too healthy for me," said Dean. "I'm officially uncomfortable now."

Sam laughed. "See, now that's what I missed."

"I'll be sure to keep it up, then," smiled Dean.

"You boys back here?" called Bobby as he appeared in the doorway. He stared at Sam. "We taking a sick day?"

Dean and Sam began laughing.

"Chuck showed up," said Dean. "Gave Sam his memories back."

Bobby frowned. "Chuck did?"

"Oh, yeah," said Dean. "Chuck is God."

"You're shitting me," said Bobby.

Sam laughed. "That's what we said."

"Well, good to have you back, Sam."

Sam smiled. "Thanks."

Two days later…

Sam walked down the basement stairs, heading for the piano.

I wonder if I still remember how…

Dean looked up at Bobby as he heard a song coming from the basement.

"I didn't think he'd go back down there," said Dean.

He headed to the stairs and into the basement, making himself comfortable. Sam was playing something fast and familiar. (To hear it, here's the address-it's youtube-: .com/watch?v=2xFPLWNyu9k).

Hey, I know that music, Dean thought. That's pretty good.

Sam finished, shaking his head and laughing.

"Decided to serenade us?" asked Dean.

Sam looked back at him. "I didn't know I could still play. It's actually kind of fun."

"It looks fun," said Dean. "Anyway, Bobby's found a job in Santa Fe. A guy murdered inside his house, all windows and doors locked. Cops are baffled: apparently, the guy choked on a letter opener."

"Sounds like vengeful spirit," said Sam. "Or maybe witches."

"Let's find out," said Dean, holding out a hand.

Sam smiled and grasped Dean's hand, letting him pull him up. "Back to the hunt?"

Dean smiled. "Back to the hunt!"