A/N: So, here I am attempting another multi-chapter fic. I tend to make my chapters shorter than average because that's the way I like them when I'm reading a fic/book. I don't always have time to sit and read for long periods so I like to have a good stopping point. :) And speaking of reading, I haven't been doing a lot of that lately. I've avoided almost all season five finale tags because I was writing my own. I think I read one or two short ones right after the episode aired but since then I've not read any. Another reason I've not been able to read much is because I'm having problems with one of my eyes and I can't see out of it very well. Makes reading and writing very hard and since I sit at a computer all day at work, I don't much feel like doing it again once I get home. That's one reason it's taken me so long to get this fic going. The other being the fact that I was totally devastated after the finale. It was so freaking sad!

Anyway, I have six chapters finished and I have a clear ending in sight. I hope to post a chapter a week (every Thursday) until it's done and I hope to have it done before the sixth season premiere. If this story runs longer than we have weeks and I get everything finished in time, I will double up on the posting.

Thanks to all of you have have supported me in the past. You know who you are. :) Also, thanks to the Safe Haven girls for an interesting conversation about storage lock-ups (you'll see why that's important in later chapters) and thanks to my daughter, Jennifer, for being my beta even though I can't get her to watch the show. At least that English degree is good for something! And thanks to Shinedown for inspiring me with their lyrics. All song lyrics in this fic belong to them. So, turn on Sound of Madness and crank it up!


Prologue

I created the sound of madness

Wrote the book on pain

Somehow I'm still here to explain

That the darkest hour never comes in the night

Sam lay shivering on the hard-packed ground, clutching the body of his younger brother close to him. Adam was dead. He had been since the moment Michael left his body, as they were plunging toward the bottom of the pit. Lucifer had hung on to Sam a little longer but when he realized he couldn't gain complete control, he left his vessel in a burst of light and the combined brilliance of both angel's true forms had left Sam blind, his eyes burned from their sockets.

Now all Sam could do was cower in the darkness, praying for an end while listening to the sounds of Lucifer and Michael engaging in battle. He had no idea what they were fighting with; maybe they didn't need anything but their bare hands. He seemed to recall seeing multiple pairs right before he lost his sight. The ground quaked every time a blow was struck and sometimes he heard the sound of other creatures in the darkness surrounding him.

"Sam." His name was a whisper in his ear.

Sam moaned. "Go away."

Occasionally Lucifer bored of the fight long enough to torment him, usually mimicking the voice of someone he loved, most often Dean but he had also used Jess and Bobby, and once, his father's voice.

"Sam, you have a choice to make."

Sam finally realized this voice was different, somewhat familiar, yet he couldn't readily identify the speaker.

"Who are you?"

"Does it really matter?"

A cool hand pressed against his forehead and a peace unlike anything he'd ever known swept over him. He had the overwhelming desire to follow the voice wherever it led him.

"You have a choice to make," repeated the voice.

"What choice?"

"You can come with me or you can return to earth, return to Dean."

"What? I don't under-"

"I can't stay here long. You must make your choice now."

"What about Adam?"

"He's coming with me. He's made his choice. Make yours now before I am forced to make it for you."

Sam's heart filled with hope, something he had long given up on. "Dean….I need to see Dean."

"Very well."

The hand on his forehead moved to his arm, gripped him tight and Sam swallowed hard as the ground dropped from beneath him. He felt a burning sensation at his left hip just before he lost consciousness.


"Dean? How are you, boy?"

Bobby clutched the phone tighter than necessary. It had been over six months since he had seen his surrogate son. He called the boy every four or five weeks, just to check in, but it wasn't the same. Dean had always been good at hiding things and communicating via telephone only made it easier.

"I'm good, Bobby. You know me. I'm always good."

Was that a trace of sadness in Dean's voice? Damn the crappy cell phone reception. He had half a mind to tell Dean to change his carrier. Of course, that wouldn't be suspicious at all since he could hear Dean just fine. He just wasn't able to detect the boy's mood. Evidently even a 3G network couldn't do that.

"How's Lisa and Ben?"

He glanced at the figure sitting across from him at the table, brows furrowed, dark eyes sad and so much older than six months before. Bobby listened to a few more reassurances from Dean that things were going well, said good-bye and ended the call.

"Is he okay?"

Sam leaned toward Bobby, yearning for news of his brother. Bobby sighed heavily.

"He sounded okay but Sam, I don't like this one bit. He's gonna be pissed when he finds out you're alive and neither of us bothered to tell him."

"He can't find out, Bobby. You promised you wouldn't tell him."

Some things never changed. Sam had the puppy dog eyes turned up to full strength.

"Dammit, Sam, I don't understand you at all. Why the hell don't you want Dean to know? He'd be here in a heartbeat."

"That's just it, Bobby." Sam pushed away from the table and began pacing the floor. "I don't want him to give up what he has for me. He's done that his whole life. It's my turn to do something for him."

"And you think that 'something' is staying out of his life?"

Sam nodded but his troubled eyes filled with tears. "I miss him, Bobby, I do. You don't know how hard it was for me not to walk right into that house when I came back but Dean has something he's always wanted and I'm not going to take that from him, not ever."

"Okay, alright….as long as Dean seems to be reasonably happy, we'll let him be. Now tell me about this job you've been working on."


Almost a thousand miles away, in Cicero, Indiana, Dean Winchester cradled his phone to his chest and cried.