Title: A Time For Revenge Or Forgiveness

Rating: T

Beta work done by: Sendintheclowns, Princess_schez and Floralia

Summary- Tag to the episode, Are You There God? It's Me, Dean Winchester. Sam's not done with the ghosts of the past.

Title of story comes from Bon Jovi's song- Learn to Love

Always thought I'd die young

In these hands I've held the gun

But it's too late for dying

Now there's nothing worth hiding

I've lost love lived with shame

I was humbled by my fall from grace

On the steps of decision

It's revenge or forgiveness

Sam sat down on the couch and noticed his brother was looking a bit shaken. He knew the last day was enough to shake anyone. Facing the people you'd failed to save, that was a living nightmare. Sam had thought his brother had handled everything okay, but now he wasn't so sure.

"You alright?" Sam waited, and when Dean didn't respond he spoke again. "What's wrong Dean?"

Dean seemed to shake himself from his stupor. "So, you got no problem believing in God, or angels?"

"No, not really."

The question caught Sam slightly off guard. He had thought that the encounter with the witnesses had been the reason for his brother's unease but now he realized that his brother was still processing the whole angel thing. Sam wasn't really up for another discussion on faith and angels this morning, but knew better than to blow the subject off. His brother needed to come to terms with the fact angels were real.

Dean looked away and then back to his sibling before speaking. "So I guess that means that you believe in the Devil."

Sam was really taken aback by this statement. He wondered if he had missed something that had happened recently to cause his brother's line of questioning.

"Why are you asking me all this?" Sam hoped that his brother would share what was going on in that thick head of his, but it was not to be. He could see that Dean was closing down by the set of his shoulders and his blank expression.

"Just forget it. Is there any coffee left?" Dean asked as he moved to stand up.

"Yeah." Sam wanted to push, but he knew if he did, Dean would shut down completely, and he hoped that with time, his brother might share some of what was bothering him.

-0-

Dean moved towards the kitchen and was relieved that while Sam was following him, he wasn't pressing for answers. When he'd first woke up this morning, Dean was still being plagued by his visit from the so called angel. He knew that he needed to inform Sam and Bobby about the information Castiel had given him, but not yet. Before he could share the information, Dean needed time to process it.

Sam sat at the kitchen table as Dean approached with his cup of coffee. His little brother was studying him with a quizzical look.

"So Dean, do we need to talk?"

"Nah, not right now, okay?"

Dean watched as his brother sighed in frustration but nodded in agreement.

"Okay Dean, so... what do you think we should do now? Head back out on the road?" Sam asked before taking a sip of his coffee.

"I was thinking that a couple of days of downtime might not be a bad idea. The house is a wreck, and we owe it to Bobby to help him clean up. Besides, I don't know about you but my whole body feels like it has been used as a punching bag." Dean winced a bit as he shifted in the chair.

Sam smiled. "Yeah, I had to take a couple of pain killers myself this morning."

"Headache?" Dean had meant to check on Sam this morning. He knew the kid had taken some hard hits to the head during his encounter with Hendricksen.

"Yeah, but not too bad Dean. You know a day or two to lick our wounds isn't such a bad idea. We do need to help Bobby clean up -maybe keep an eye on him. He took some hard hits himself."

Dean smirked. "Those two little girls did a number on the old man, huh?"

Sam chuckled, but before he could respond there was a loud huffing sound coming from the entry way.

Dean turned to find Bobby glaring at them. "Those so-called little girls did do a number on me but they also took your big Sasquatch brother out too, so don't give me any grief that you can't handle, boys."

Dean quirked an eyebrow and looked at Sam. "Got something to tell me little brother?"

Sam shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "I was trying to help Bobby and they got the jump on me a bit."

Bobby sat down at the table. "They tossed him like a rag doll down on one of the wrecks. Sam left a nice size dent in the hood and his head took out the windshield."

Sam rolled his eyes. "I'm fine, and they were strong for little girls."

Bobby chuckled. "Hell yeah they were. And all kidding aside, thanks for saving my ass, Sam."

Dean didn't like hearing his brother had taken another blow to the head. Head injuries were not to be taken lightly.

"Sam, you're sure you're okay?" Dean asked as he turned his full attention to his brother. Sam looked tired but otherwise okay.

"Yeah, I'm sure. I didn't have anyone squeezing my insides like you two. I'm a bit bruised but I'll live. Are you two sure you're okay?" Sam looked from Dean to Bobby with concern on his face.

Dean stood up from his chair intent on getting more coffee. "Yeah, fine. Just bruised like you."

Bobby huffed. "Okay if we're done with our little show and tell, can you two tell me what your plan is for today?"

Dean finished getting another cup of coffee and spoke. "Thought we'd hang around here and help with the clean up."

Bobby nodded. "I'd appreciate it. It would be nice to sleep in my own bed tonight instead of the panic room, and maybe you two can sleep in the guest room tonight if we get everything cleaned up and warded."

Sam stood up. "Yeah, my back would appreciate a real bed."

Dean rolled his eyes. "You won the couch, so quit your bitching, Princess."

Bobby moved to get up from the table. "If you would both shut your cake-holes and start cleaning up, I'll make us some breakfast."

Dean's stomach growled with approval. "Now that sounds like a plan I can deal with."

-0-

Sam had hoped that the pain medicine he'd taken that morning would do the trick for his headache but unfortunately it barely dulled it. His bruises hadn't bothered him much but his head was hard to ignore- and then there was the dizziness he'd been experiencing when he stood too quickly.

He had worked diligently with his brother replacing all the wards and protection symbols throughout the house. Every time he stood from a crouched position replacing the wards, his dizziness had popped up and he had trouble steadying himself. Luckily Dean hadn't noticed Sam's less than graceful moves.

Sam chalked the dizziness and headache up to the stress he was under. Dealing with Dean's return, and the big reveal of angels in their lives, had been surprising and a bit scary. He wanted to stay positive because it was nice to have the good guys on their side for a change but at the same time – angels were a hard concept to swallow- especially after watching Castiel burn out Pamela's eyes during the séance. Angels could be powerful and vengeful, which, considering the darkness that had touched his life, made Sam a bit fearful.

Stress was definitely making itself known and Sam was just thankful that his brother had decided they needed some down time. A good night's sleep and all should be better, or at least Sam hoped it would.

Sam was pulled from his musing when his brother nudged him as he finished up drawing a protection symbol in their bedroom- or at least the room they normally stayed in while at Bobby's house.

"Dude, you were spacing out on me, sure your freaky head is okay?"

Sam huffed. "I'm fine Dean, just tired I guess."

"Well I'm hungry, so if you're finished with your art project, can we head down to see if dinner is ready?"

Sam nodded. "Yeah, sure thing."

Sam let his brother move out of the room before he gingerly lifted himself from his place on the floor. Moving slowly kept the dizziness at a minimum, which was a good thing. He was far from hungry. In fact Sam felt a bit nauseous but he knew better than to skip a meal- that would definitely put his brother in mother-hen mode.

Once Sam made it to the kitchen he was pleased to see that a simple meal of hot dogs and mac-n-cheese was waiting for him. He figured he could get a bit of that down and then head to bed.

Sam took a bit of food and grabbed a soda from the fridge before settling down at that table. Dean eyed Sam's drink selection with a frown.

"Dude, after all that work you aren't gonna get a cold one?"

Sam gave him a small smile. "My headache is back so I thought I'd just stick to soda and then after dinner take a few pain pills and hit the hay. I think some good sleep will do my head wonders."

Bobby shifted in his chair. "You sure your alright, kid?"

Sam nodded. "Yeah, just been a long day."

Bobby sighed. "You can say that again. I'm about ready to crash myself so let's dig in so we can call it a night."

Dean whined, "You guys are no fun, guess I'll have to find something to do to entertain myself tonight."

Bobby raised an eyebrow. "You know I don't get pay-per-view anymore right?"

"Son-of-a-bitch." Dean cursed loudly.

Sam laughed and dug into his hot dog. Headache or not, Dean always did entertain him.

-0-

Dean was a bit worried about Sam. The kid had seemed off all day and his early departure for bed set off all kind of warning bells in Dean's head. He just hoped that a good night's sleep would do his brother good.

Hell, if Dean was honest with himself a good night's sleep would do him some good, too. Last night's adventure of sleeping on the floor and then having a sleep induced chat with Castiel, the not so friendly angel, had definitely left Dean feeling worn out.

The problem was, Dean was afraid that lying down to sleep would be a fruitless act considering all the crap that was weighing down on him. He was still reeling from the angels being real and then got hit with the whole Lilith breaking seals and releasing Lucifer crap. Not pleasant stuff to have jumbled up in your head as you tried to sleep.

That was why he was sitting on the couch, flipping through the TV channels, looking for something to distract his thoughts as he downed his third beer of the night. Unfortunately, late night shows sucked and he couldn't even find a good campy horror movie on.

If he was going to shut his mind down it was going to have to be alcohol induced. Beer wasn't going to cut it, he needed something stronger. Bobby had a good supply of the hard stuff but Dean knew if he drank Bobby's liquor the elder hunter would be on his ass about why he decided to get drunk. No, he needed to be a little more discreet about his late night binge, thus he needed to break into the emergency supply that was tucked in the bottom of his duffel bag.

Dean just hoped that Sam was out for the count, and wouldn't question Dean as he made a quick dash for his stash that was in the room they shared.

Grimacing as the stairs creaked under his weight, he was happy to find the upstairs quiet. Leaving the hall light on as he entered the guest room, Dean quietly made his way to his bed where he had left his duffel bag.

A moan from the other bed made Dean freeze in his tracks. He hoped he hadn't disturbed his sleeping brother.

Sam began to kick his legs a bit. A sleep laden voice pierced the quiet. "Dad, what can I do? I have to protect Dean."

Crap, a nightmare. Dean moved to Sam's side and tried to wake his brother, but instead of jerking awake, Sam began to fight him off. Dean realized he was in for a long night.

-0-

Sam had taken some ibuprofen and crashed shortly afterwards. He was pleased that his mind was willing to shut down so he could sleep off his headache.

Sam awoke to the feeling that someone was staring at him. He slowly opened his eyes and as his vision cleared he could make out a tall figure standing across from his bed. The voice that spoke to him immediately caused recognition.

"Sammy."

"Dad?" Sam immediately sat up in bed and stared as his father moved towards him.

"Yeah it's me. I've come to talk to you about the road you've been on as of late. It's a dark road that will end in darkness and death, and you know it."

Sam took in a shuddering breath. He remembered facing the ghosts of the witnesses last night, had hoped it was over, but now he realized that he was a fool to think that he wouldn't have to face the worst of his mistakes. The death of his loved ones.

"I'm just trying to follow your path, Dad. Lilith needs to be stopped." Sam whispered the words, hoping his father's vengeful spirit would understand.

"My path? The one you fought all your life boy? It didn't end very well for me and it won't for you." John's eyes were full of anger and it made Sam want to look away – to run from his father's hate.

"I have to try; I have to keep Dean safe."

"Safe? Then why didn't you shoot me when I ordered you to? It would have ended it all right then and there. The Yellow Eyed Demon would have been dead."

"But so would you." Sam sobbed out.

"I was hell bound anyway. I wanted to go out as a warrior not as a sacrifice."

Before Sam could reply, he spotted something glimmering behind his dad. In a moment it took form, and the form made Sam gasp with shock. Mary, his mother, took her spot next to John. John took her in his arms and his featured softened as he kissed the top of her head.

Mary gave John a loving look but then turned her attention to Sam. He felt like his heart was being squeezed tight as she looked at him with the same anger his father had shown. She wore a white night gown and Sam was thankful that it wasn't covered in blood. He didn't think he could have taken that sight.

"Sam, I gladly died for you that night so long ago, but look how you have repaid that sacrifice. Slutting around with a demon! I died for you and this is how you repay me? Revenge is a dangerous road as it is, but if you follow a demon down this path it will lead you straight to hell."

Sam stifled a sob. "I just wanted to save Dean. I still need to keep him safe from Lilith."

Another shape took form next to Mary, and Sam's heart ached when he realized it was Jessica. She didn't pay his parents any attention, her icy stare was glued to Sam as he jammed himself against the headboard, wishing for some sort of escape, but he knew he didn't deserve one. Sam couldn't fight these ghosts, they meant too much to him. He knew he owed it to them to face their wrath.

Jessica pointed at him. "You wanted to save Dean? Just like you saved me by living in denial? My death was painted for you night after night in your dreams, yet you decided to ignore the warning. You're in denial now if you think that following a demon's path will protect your brother. It will damn you and your brother, mark my words Sam. Don't make my death be in vain. Revenge isn't the answer."

John moved closer. "You have a choice to make, son, revenge or forgiveness. You can let the past go and move on, or damn our whole family to hell."

Sam shook his head. As much as he wanted at that moment to please his family and Jess, the need to save Dean was stronger. He was willing to damn himself if that saved Dean. "Dad, what can I do? I have to protect Dean."

-0-

Dean was struggling with Sam as the lights came on and he heard Bobby's gruff voice behind him.

"What's wrong with Sam?"

Dean tried to wake Sam again by shaking him but to no avail. "He's caught up in a nightmare, I can't wake him."

He heard Bobby grunt in acknowledgment and then he was left to deal with a flailing Sam.

"Sammy, it is just a damn dream, wake the hell up." Dean was beginning to worry about a supernatural attack when Bobby moved towards the bed with a glass of water in his hand.

Before Dean could speak, Bobby splashed Sam in the face with the cold liquid. Most of it hit Sam, but enough landed on Dean to make him shudder under the cold.

He heard his brother gasp as his eyes shot open. Dean gave a thankful look to Bobby before turning his attention back to Sam. His brother's eyes wildly moved around the room, and Dean could tell he was having trouble focusing. Dean became more concerned when he noticed that one of Sam's pupils was more dilated than the other.

A concussion. Damn it, why didn't I see it?

"De.. gonna be sick." Sam slurred out.

Before Dean could respond, Bobby held out a small trash can. Dean moved to help his brother sit up as Bobby held the trash bin out for Sam. His little brother let loose the meager contents of his stomach before settling back down in bed.

Bobby left with the trash can. Dean helped Sam move into a more comfortable position. Once Sam was settled Bobby had returned with a glass of water.

Dean took the glass. "Thanks Bobby."

Bobby nodded. "Looks like the kid is suffering from a delayed concussion. I hate that. Holler if you need me."

"Will do, thanks again Bobby."

"Yeah well, just keep him from ralphing all over the room. We didn't spend hours cleaning this house all up for Sam to puke everywhere."

Dean gave the elder hunter a grateful smile and nodded before turning his attention back to Sam. The kid had shut his eyes and Dean took his free hand to lightly tap his kid brother's cheek. Slowly Sam's eyes opened.

"Sam, want some water?"

Sam nodded and slowly moved to sit up. "W-what happened?"

Dean handed the glass over to Sam and waited until his brother took a few swallows before responding as he took the glass back.

"You have a delayed concussion – guess that hard head of yours finally had enough. What do you remember?"

"Ghosts, uh witnesses. We took care of them but just now, Dad, Mom and Jess were here and I couldn't hurt them, I couldn't …."

Dean sighed, he should have known that facing their failed saves from past hunts would haunt Sam's subconscious. The kid always did taken on guilt over every failure. "Sam, that part wasn't real. You were dreaming. I found you shouting at Dad and so I woke you. It seems real because of the concussion."

Sam shook his head. "I let them down, they died because of me."

Dean placed his hands on each of Sam's shoulders and stared at his addled brother. He knew he needed to nip the unfounded guilt in the bud before it led Sam into a pit of despair. "Look at me Sam and try and focus. Jess and our folks, they would never come here for revenge. They loved you Sam. The others, they didn't understand, but our parents- Jess they know that you loved them, would have died for them. They would never come after you for revenge."

Sam looked away. "But I failed them."

Dean gently squeezed his little brother's shoulders, he hated seeing the needless guilt in his brother's eyes. "You need to forgive yourself, Sam. Let the past go."

"I don't know if I can. I failed you too, Dean." Sam looked at him in despair.

"Sam, you know I don't hold you responsible for my trip to hell. Damn it, you got to promise me something."

"W-what?"

"Promise me you will try and forgive yourself and move on." Dean stared at Sam willing for him to agree.

"I'll try Dean, if that is what you want."

"It is what I want. But right now, I think it would be best if you got some rest. I'll be here and wake you up in two hours Sam. No more nightmares kid, okay?"

Sam nodded as Dean helped tuck him back down in bed.

"Dean, I'm sorry." Sam mumbled as he closed his eyes.

"Me too kid, me too. Everything is going to work out."

In a whisper that Dean had to strain to hear, Sam spoke. "Promise?"

"Yeah, I promise."

Dean moved to the other bed placing his duffel bag on the floor, whiskey forgotten. He would need his wits about him tonight as he took care of Sam. The elder hunter hoped that Sam wouldn't remember his nightmare in the morning, but if he did, Dean intended to keep his promise about making everything work out. He just hoped that the other forces meddling in their lives would leave them be and let them just be brothers again.

End

A/N: I would like to thank Sendintheclowns, Princess_schez and Floralia for their beta work and support. I would also like to thank Princess_schez for the wonderful banner that is being used with the story at Live Journal.

I am dedicating this tag to the wonderful moderators at the Live Journal, Summer of Sam Writing Challenge, Faye Dartmouth, Sendintheclowns and Dontknowmyname. Without their hard work, this wonderful writing challenge wouldn't have happened and I greatly appreciate the time and effort that they put in.

Thanks for reading!