AN: Written for summer_sam_love Tackle hugs and smooches for my wonderful, wonderful dear friends and betas, lynne, sid and devra. All mistakes left are mine. I'm sure there are a few.

AN: Still working on GNM. Thanks for all the nudges! It helps to know people are still interested...as it eats my brains!


Dean was the first one to stay up with him all night when he was sick or scared. He was the first one to make him a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The first one to take his hand and walk him across the street. He was the first one to tell him everything would be alright. He was the first one Sam believed.

So, it shouldn't come as a shock that his brother's name was the first word he ever spoke.

/ "It took you awhile to get the entire word out—which, dude…one syllable. I thought I was gonna have a kid that spoke in mutilated Pig Latin his entire life, but…"

Twenty-two year old Sam rolled his eyes. "Dean."

"Aw," The older brother gushed, "And here I am with no Batman stickers." /

A foreign grin tugged briefly at the corner of Sam's mouth. He shook his head. Even with Jessica's death increasingly heavy on his heart and their father missing, life then was…infinitely less impossible.

Infinitely less unbearable.

Infinitely less…lonely.

Two days now the rugaru had been in their rearview mirror and Sam could still smell his flesh burning. Though they were not the only ashes he was left clinging to.

It was barely six a.m. on a Sunday. The streets he walked from the motel to find the nearest, hottest coffee were bare and the chill from the night before lingered with a patch of fog over a small lake Sam had diverted to on his way back to the room.

He stood before the gently lapping waters about a half a mile down a wooded path, clutching to his chest a paper cup of coffee and the shattered remains of his life.

/ "I've got demon blood in me, Dean! This disease pumping through my veins and I can't ever rip it out or scrub it clean!" /

There was a part of Sam, deep down, that had never grieved. After crying over his brother's torn body on the cold floor of a stranger's house, he had never let another tear fall. Never. He never let that part deep down in him accept that he was gone. That he had lost his brother—

"As long as I'm around, nothin' bad is gonna happen to you."

"Whatever this is, we'll figure it out."

—had lost his…everything.

/ "Slippery slope, brother. Just wait and see. Cause it's just gonna get darker and darker and God knows where it's gonna end." /

He ignored its whispers—that ever shrinking part of him that refused to believe his brother was never coming back. Then he shut it out completely and placed barriers around it—protected it from what he was becoming.

Becoming so he could let that part of him out again.

Becoming so he could save Dean.

/ "It's already gone too far, Sam!"/

He couldn't let grief consume him. It already had his body, his mind, his soul… he couldn't let it have this. It was the only light he carried anymore. So he hid it deeper—sheltered the part of him his brother always seemed to. And did what he had to do.

/ "Do you even know how far off the reservation you have gone? How far from normal? From human?" /

Hot tears filling his eyes, Sam raised his chin even as it trembled.

/ "You were gone. I was here. I had to keep on fighting without you." /

It wasn't until after he had sworn he was done with it all, that he started to look for and unbury that part of himself he had kept hidden away all those months.

It wasn't until now that he realized that small light was gone. And it had been gone since Dean had died. He had sheltered emptiness. Protected nothing.

His…Sammy's first word was his brother's name. And as he cried over and clutched at the cooling body of his self appointed guardian, it was his last. For Sammy had followed his brother, willing and clinging all the way to hell.

/ "If I didn't know you. I would wanna hunt you." /

And neither were ever coming back.

The sob came unbidden. He didn't hear the cup hit the water's edge. He didn't feel his ass slam into the shore.

He grieved. And this time…he let it consume him.