AN: Hey everybody! My name is Bunny. Most of you reading this probably haven't read my stuff before, as this is my first time delving into the Supernatural fandom! I love the show, and started reading a few months ago, but was super-nervous to post. Who am I kidding, I'm STILL terrified! But in honor of the premiere in a few days (I'm so excited!), I decided to just write it and post it, stomach butterflies be damned. I feel like a schoolgirl on her first day. Well, technically I AM a schoolgirl, but…nevermind! Ignore my nervous rambling. Onto the story! Feedback is always greatly appreciated! *weak smile*

Spoilers: Takes place post S5 finale. Multiple episodes up to that point, some exact dialogue.

Falling. It seemed to Sam that his whole life had been spent on the downward motion. The gradual—or sometimes instant—descent. It began with his first steps, continued with years of heartbreak, betrayal, and secrets, and ended with a single act of redemption that changed the fate of the world, and shook the gates of Hell itself.

It started with a dingy motel in the middle of nowhere, a determined little boy, and a crease in the carpet.

. . .

"Dad, I think he's trying to walk!" Dean shouted excitedly. He jumped off the bed to his brother's side, ready to lend support if need be.

John rubbed his eyes tiredly before turning his attention to the apparent milestone taking place in the center of the room.

Sure enough, Sam had pulled himself up and was standing at the end of one of the beds, tiny fingers clinging desperately to the tucked-in bedspread. His tongue poked out the side of his mouth, eyes set in fierce determination. John stood and slowly made his way to his boys.

"Think you're right," he said with a smile. Dean grinned up at his dad, more than excited that the family could share this moment together, and that his dad wasn't off on one of his trips—the ones where he stumbles back in late at night, sometimes bleeding or hurt, and Dean has to help wipe away the blood as John pokes a needle through his own skin, sealing up the nasty cuts. Dean hated those trips.

But John wasn't on a trip now. Now, he was here, with Dean and Sammy, while the latter picks up a shaking leg and scoots it a few inches ahead of him.

"There you go, Sammy! You're doing it! Look Dad, he's doing it!" Dean cried, an animated smile lighting up his face.

"He sure is! Let's see how far he can get," John replied, also grinning. His boys were growing up. He only wished Mary could be with them to share the moment.

The two watched as the small child in front of them took another tentative step, before releasing his hold on the bedspread. And then took another step. And another. And before they knew it, Sam was throwing his legs in front of himself, stumbling forward like a pro.

Sam looked over his shoulder, an enormous, goofy grin on his face, drool slipping out the side of his mouth. A tiny giggle escaped his lips, and Dean laughed back.

John was overwhelmed with emotion as he watched his boys interact, and glanced again at Sam. It was then that he noticed the small section of carpet that had creased and was protruding an inch or so from the otherwise smooth floor.

"Sammy, watch out!" He said, but he was powerless as his youngest got his foot caught on the bulge. Balance ripped away from him, Sam's eyes widened as he tumbled and hit the floor hard, unable to catch himself.

John and Dean rushed to Sammy's side, worried by the dull thunk his head had made when he made contact with the floor.

"Sammy! Hey, Sammy, you okay, buddy?" Dean said worriedly, grabbing his brother under the armpits and hoisting him up.

John was already next to his son, running his hands over the toddler's head and limbs, checking for any sign of injury. When he couldn't find anything, he breathed in relief and looked at Sam's face. The boy had remained silent through the ordeal, and looked down at his feet, head hanging low.

"What's wrong, Sam?" John asked. "You ok?"

Sam raised his head, lower lip prominent as he pouted. He mumbled, "F-f'll." Though his vocabulary was very limited, he'd quickly picked up a few scattered words from Dean and John. John already could tell that his youngest was going to be a brainiac.

John put a comforting hand on Sam's back. "It's ok, kiddo. You did great."

Dean nodded vigorously. "We all fall sometimes, Sammy, nothing to be upset about."

Sam still looked a bit dejected, so John ran his fingers through the child's hair and sighed.

"Come on," John said, picking up his youngest and settling him on his hip. He looked at Dean and smiled. "Who's up for ice cream?"

Little Sam knew what that meant, and grinned shyly. And while he was still disappointed, part of him was beaming with joy.

"It's ok, kiddo. You did great."

He was too young to truly understand his father's praise. But he knew that it was good. He knew that it was great. And he was happy.

. . .

The next fall was hard and fast. Completely unexpected, and wholly undeserved.

It was a new school, a new home, a new existence…which, ironically, for the Winchesters, was nothing new.

The first day of school was always the hardest for Sam, as it was for any kid. And being gawky, nerdy, and fairly shy didn't help matters. At all.

His first few periods went by uneventfully. Bell, walk, sit down, listen, bell. Nothing interesting about it, except for the girl Sam sat next to. She was average height, with long, dirty blonde hair, and stormy green eyes. As soon as Sam walked into homeroom, she hopped out of her seat, walked over, and smiled.

"I'm Priscilla," she said proudly, carefree grin still showing off her perfect teeth.

Turns out the two had most of their classes together, so they had a lot of time to get to know each other. They talked all through the day, then the next, and then the next.

Day turned into day, and the time passed slowly, allowing Sam to savor each moment. He was surprised that they were still in the same place. It'd been almost three months with no word from their father, and though it worried Sam slightly, he was just grateful for the extra time and happiness.

Priscilla was an exuberant girl, funny, charismatic, yet also deep-thinking. In the time Sam had known her, he was already under her spell. In that short period of time, she became 'Cil' to Sam. He'd never known anyone long enough to give them a nickname. He liked it. He was happy.

But anyone who's read a history book can tell you—after the time of prosperity comes the decline. After the peace comes the fall.

One day, Sam and Priscilla were walking down the hall, talking, when out of nowhere, a kid about twice Sam's size stepped in front of them. And with no warning, the brute sucker-punched Sam in the jaw. Unprepared for the hit, Sam's body twisted and he began his instant descent, hitting the tile with breathtaking force. He felt the air whoosh from his lungs, and dizziness tainted his vision.

After a few moments of loud shouting, Priscilla was at Sam's side, eyes roaming concernedly over the darkening bruise already forming on his jaw line.

"I'm so sorry, Sam. I guess your brother hooked up with his girlfriend or something, and he just found out, but didn't have the balls to take on your brother, so got to you instead. Asshole. Damn that looks bad, are you ok?" Priscilla said in a single long breath.

Sam gingerly probed his swelling jaw. "M'fine," he mumbled. With a bit of help from Priscilla, he stood up.

Picking up the forgotten books which had dropped to the floor, Priscilla fumed. "Don't even spare him a thought, Sam. He only picked on you because…" Priscilla thought better of what she was about to say, and trailed off awkwardly. Sam noticed.

"Because what?" he said with frustration. "Because I'm an easy target? Because I'm weak? Don't feel bad about saying it, Cil, I already know." His voice was tinted with resentment.

"That's not what I meant, Sam," Priscilla said earnestly. "Not at all."

Sam shoved his hands in his pockets and looked at the ground. "It's true, though. I'm a nerd, a reject, a lightweight, I don't play sports, you're my only friend, and I don't even have a real home."

Priscilla battled the defeated self-attack with resoluteness. Her stormy eyes locked with Sam's and she replied, "I don't care, Sam. You're better than him. You're better than any of those jerks."

And for the first time in his life, Sam felt like maybe he was.

That night, John came home, and Sam never saw Priscilla again. Without so much as a phone call, he was gone, and left behind the small piece of happiness he'd built around himself. Yet another inevitable fall.

But he remembered what Priscilla said. And that was the last time Sam was ever bullied at school.

"I don't care, Sam. You're better than him. You're better than any of those jerks."

Though he'd never grant himself full confidence, part of Sam knew that he really was.

. . .

His freshman year at Stanford, Sam learns that not all falls are bad. Because at age 20, Sam falls in love.

He was so nervous on their first date. What was he thinking? This girl was gorgeous, kind, funny…the epitome of perfection. And he thought he actually had a chance with her?

He'd learned by now that Sam Winchester doesn't get chances. He doesn't get choices. The only way for him to control his own future was through omission, abandonment, and hurting the ones he loves. And most days, he questions even that.

But he went for it anyway, and asked out Jessica Moore.

Little did he know, it'd be the best risk he'd ever taken.

Months and months later, the two were curled up on the bed, books and papers strewn about. But they ignored that. They could study tomorrow. Right now, all they needed was each other, and neither would deny their partner that necessity.

Holding Jess close, Sam whispered into her ear, "This could very well be the most beautiful—albeit clichéd—moment I've experienced in my life."

With a soft laugh, Jess leaned up and kissed Sam. "I can't disagree."

The two were silent for a few moments, and Jess began to doze off. Just as she descended into the dream world, Jess smiled into Sam's chest and breathed, "I love you, Sam Winchester."

Though he knew she'd fallen asleep, Sam whispered, "I love you, too, Jess."

And he did.

Little did he know, it'd be the most painful risk he'd ever taken.

. . .

Then, it happened on a cold night, in an abandoned town, where relief morphed into pain, and pain morphed into oblivion.

Gazing down at the man before him, Sam knew he couldn't do it. Not while he was so weak, so vulnerable. He dropped the knife and stumbled away wearily, hearing his brother call his name.

One foot in front of the other, a seemingly simple task. He'd been doing it since he was a toddler, taking his first steps. But now, each step weighed him down. Each forward motion further exhausted his already aching body.

And then he saw Dean. And suddenly, his arm didn't hurt quite as bad. All the darkness was a little brighter. All the sadness and confusion threatening to take him down became a little more bearable. Dean came into sight, and the burden lessened.

"Dean," Sam half-cried, half-breathed.

"Sam, look out!"

What? Sam thinks to himself. But before he gets an answer, blinding pain shoots up his spine and through his body, electrifying every fiber.

And then…he's falling.

Sam vaguely recognizes Bobby sprinting past, but he's not sure why. To Sam, the motion is more of a blur than anything. Confused thoughts run through his mind as his brother kneels down and clings to him. Why is he doing that? I'm not opposed to hugs, but right now? Really? Wait, where exactly are we…And why's it so cold on this ground? I think my knees are getting wet. Wait, have I stopped falling? It would seem so. Never thought it was possible. Dean?

Through the pain-filled haze, Sam can make out a few scattered words coming from his brother. Not much registers, but one phrase sticks out in his mind. It makes him happy. Hearing it from his brother takes away the pain, makes everything ok.

"I'm going to take care of you, I'm going to take care of you. I gotcha."

The darkness of the night turns to darkness of the mind as Sam's eyes slide closed. Though his body's gone numb, he can still feel his brother's hands on him, holding him up, keeping him together.

And he hears his brother's words echoing in his head. "I'm going to take care of you, I'm going to take care of you. I gotcha."

And in his mind's eye, Sam smiles. Because he knows. Dean's got him. Dean'll take care of him. He knows. Dean wouldn't lie.

"I'm going to take care of you, I'm going to take care of you. I gotcha."

He knows.

. . .

One of the hardest falls is the metaphorical one. And when Sam falls, he falls hard.

Dean was right. He was on a slippery slope. He knew that. But he couldn't stop. He couldn't slow himself down. He knew he was bound to crash at some point—soon—but until Dean came back, he hadn't really cared. Now that he had his brother back from the dead, he wanted nothing more than to stop, to slow down, to go back to the way things were. But he couldn't stop. He could only crash. He could only fall.

So when Dean gets angry, Sam knows he deserves it. When Dean hits him, he welcomes the pain, the fury, the resentment. Because he deserves every bit of it. He knows he screwed-up. He knows he is screwed-up. And he's sorry. He's so sorry. But Dean just can't see…he can't see that the brakes are shot. He doesn't understand that it's not that Sam doesn't want to, it's that he can't. Because he's falling too far, too fast, and he doesn't know how to make it end.

But Sam tries to make up for it. He tries so damn hard to make Dean see that he's not a monster. He's not a demon. He shouldn't be hunted. Hit him, scream at him. Go ahead, hate him. At this point, Sam hates himself. But don't hunt him. Don't say that. Because hunting—their job, their life—that's what got them into this mess in the first place, and that irony would be too bittersweet for Sam to bear.

Finally, a small light of hope comes, amidst the dreary backdrop. They're riding in the Impala together. Sam and Dean. Dean and Sam. Just like old days.

And finally, Sam gets Dean to see, or at least catch a glimpse of what he means. And he says it as plainly as he can. Because it's just another problem of theirs. Not the end of the world.

"It's just something I've gotta deal with."

And then Dean says the words, the ones Sam has been waiting to hear. The ones he so desperately desires, yet instinctively rejects.

"Not alone."

That's all he needed to hear, all he needed to know. This didn't mean he would share the burden. But knowing that Dean was there, that someone was willing to help…it made the load a bit lighter. Dean had a way of doing that for Sam. Sam only hoped he could one day do the same for Dean.

"Not alone."

Nope. Not for the moment, anyway.

. . .

It had to happen. At least that's what Sam told himself. He had to say yes. Not because it was destined, not because it's what the angels planned, not because he had demon blood inside him from nearly birth. No. This had to happen because it's what Sam wanted. It was his choice, and finally, he could do something good for the world. Finally he could do something good for himself.

Sam said yes.

And looking at his brother, feeling his flesh give way beneath Sam's own steel fist…it broke his heart. He really thought he'd made the right decision. He thought he could handle it.

Shocker, he thought sarcastically. I let everybody down. What a surprise.

But he wasn't giving up without a fight. He threw himself against the walls of his own mind, scratching—clawing—at the interior of his own body, his personal prison. And then it happened.

"Sam, it's ok. It's ok, I'm here. And I'm not gonna leave you. I'm not gonna leave you."

Slam. Another fist to the face. But Sam heard him. Sam heard every word. And he fought even harder.

With an exhausting effort, he wrenched Lucifer from his consciousness and regained control, if only for a period.

"It's ok, Dean. It's gonna be ok. I've got him," Sam reassured, words strained, face pinched. He muttered the incantation and watched as a hole opened in the earth.

Knowing what had to be done, he forced himself up to the hole, the great chasm threatening to swallow him. Michael tried to intervene, but Sam wouldn't have it. Not after all this.

The brothers shared one last, long look. Years and years of pain, happiness, memories, and most importantly, brotherhood were shared instantaneously between them, hazel locking with mossy green. As the brothers, who'd been to hell and back again for one another, looked at each other, both anguish and acceptance passed between them. One brother ready to accept his fate, the other already mourning the loss.

But they had no time to say goodbye, to embrace, to even speak at all. They'd said what they needed to say before this small nightmare began. They thought they were both ready. But they weren't. Not really.

Unfortunately, the universe's time table didn't conveniently coincide with the Winchesters'. This mess had to end. Now.

So Sam decided to do what he did best…he fell.

Again, Michael tried to step in. But nothing could stop a Winchester on a mission. Even a suicide mission. Michael or not, Sam would fall into that pit. He would save the world. He would save Dean.

And he did.

. . .

Falling. It seemed to Sam that his whole life had been spent on the downward motion. The gradual—or sometimes instant—descent. It started with his first steps, continued with years of heartbreak, betrayal, and secrets, and ended with a single act of redemption that changed the fate of the world, and shook the gates of Hell itself.

Now, as the wind whistled violently past his face, Sam contemplated the action that he had spent most of his life carrying out.

There was always a moment, just before the action occurred, when you knew what was about to happen. You knew you'd made a misstep, you knew you'd gotten distracted, you knew that you had turned the wrong way. You knew you were going down. But in that moment, you were powerless to stop the fall from happening. With a sharp breath, you brace yourself for the impact, and if you're lucky, you can lessen the blow just enough to prevent serious injury.

That was the part Sam had trouble with. He got going. He got going so damn fast, that by the time he realized he was falling, he'd already hit bottom. As soon as he started, he never had a chance. So he did all he could do. He hit. Hard.

But now, as the darkness came nearer, reaching up with its cold, unforgiving hand, Sam had the time to brace himself. His split-second was extended, and he was given the chance to ease the impact, to lessen the blow, to save himself added injury. But he didn't bother. Because what was the point? He knew where he was going. He knew what would become of him. And he sure as hell knew that cushioning his landing wouldn't do shit.

Memories of the many falls he'd taken flashed through Sam's mind as his fate drew ever nearer, and his body ever colder. The twist, the gasp, the cringe, the crash…But then, with calmness that shocked even him, Sam's thoughts wandered to the aftershock. The people who were there afterwards, who reached out their hands and extended their hearts. His father, his friends, his fiancé, his brother.

"It's ok, kiddo. You did great."

"I don't care, Sam. You're better than him. You're better than any of those jerks."

"I love you, Sam Winchester."

"I'm going to take care of you, I'm going to take care of you. I gotcha."

"It's just something I've gotta deal with."…"Not alone."

"Sam, it's ok. It's ok, I'm here. And I'm not gonna leave you. I'm not gonna leave you."

And with sudden clarity, Sam got it. At last, he understood. He'd been falling his whole life. He could recall every slip, every bad decision, every pain that accompanied the motion.

But with his descent destined to end in mere moments, Sam finally realized that he'd been forgetting the most important part of the very action that defined him.

A smile graced his features as Sam's fragile body impacted, making violent contact with Hell itself.

But he was ok. He would be ok. Because, though it took countless heartbreaks, a litany of pain, gallons upon gallons of blood, and a support system that lost faith, but never loyalty…Sam finally remembered.

The best part of falling…is getting back up.