Disclaimer: I don't own 'em and I don't make any money off of this or much of anything else for that matter.

A/N: Here's just a quick one-shot that popped in my head after seeing the teasers for next week's episode. It just got me thinking about what a person's reaction would be if they had gone a year without emotion and then suddenly had them thrust back upon them. It's not the best I've ever written and most of it was written when I should have been sleeping, but I hope you like it and let me know what you think. :D

Hollow Man

By Mamapranayama


The door knob turned slowly before the door swung open quietly. Dean sighed seeing that the room's only occupant was still laying in the same position he had left him in earlier and hadn't moved so much as an inch.

He walked in and eyed the plate of cold, congealed eggs and stale toast sitting untouched on the nightstand and picked up the plate, replacing it with a hot bowl of beef stew before taking a seat in the wooden chair by the bed.

Chewing the inside of his lip, he wasn't sure how to fix this or what to say to make any of this better. He'd fought so hard for this, practically moving heaven and Earth to get his little brother back, to save his soul and put it back where it belonged and yet, Sam still wasn't back. At least not the Sammy he knew. The man lying on the bed next to him was just as lost to him as if he had never come back from Hell and he didn't know how to drag him out of the protective shell he had wrapped himself in.

It had been almost two days since Dean got Sam's soul returned from that angel dick, yet he had still to get out of bed or so much as say more than two or three words. Dean had hoped that once Sam's soul was returned that he would be back to his old self again, that he would be back to his caring, touchy-feely ways. But this guy still wasn't Sam. He was just as much a stranger to him as the cold, soulless, ruthless hunter that had dragged him back into this life and it had to be the most frustrating thing he had ever experienced.

"Sam?" He asked, trying not to let his anger at the whole situation come through his voice. "You awake?"

Sam didn't move or make any sign that he heard him, but Dean knew he was awake.

Dean scrubbed a hand across his face, feeling the rough stubble that he hadn't bothered to shave away. "I brought you some lunch."

Still, Sam was silent and unmoving, his face just as unkempt as his, yet he had deep, dark circles under his eyes which stared dully out the curtained window, not looking at much of anything. He was losing his little brother all over again and it took almost all of Dean's willpower not to scream out in frustration.

He held the cold plate of food in his hands with a white-knuckle grip. "Dammit, Sam...you can't keep this up. I know you don't want to talk, but you gotta eat at least."

The only response he got from his little brother was a closing of his eyes.

Dean lost it then and felt something snap inside, all of the worry and anger he had tried to keep so carefully concealed suddenly hit him all at once like a punch to the face. Any semblance of control was lost in a burst of fury as he rocketed up from the chair and the plate of food went flying into the far wall, shattering on impact, littering the floor with Sam's breakfast.

Dean was a frenzy of movement, grabbing Sam by the shoulders and dragging him up from the fetal position and shaking him like a rag-doll.

"Snap out of it already, Goddammit!" He yelled into Sam's face.

Dean finally got a reaction from Sam then, but it wasn't what he had hoped for. Pleading, hazel eyes met his, welling with tears, pain marking the corners of them with an intensity that left Dean reeling with sudden guilt.

"Please..." Sam finally spoke, his begging voice barely above a whisper,. "Leave me alone."

Dean felt his fingers release their grip on Sam's shoulders, his anger fleeing his body and leaving exhaustion and regret in its wake.


Sam merely laid back down, pulling a blanket over his shoulders and turning his back on Dean.

"Yeah...fine..." Dean stammered, his throat closing in on itself, his eyes burning, threatening to shed the hot tears he wouldn't allow to fall. Numbly, he willed his legs to move, dragging his heavy body to the door and exiting, shutting the door softly behind him.


So much blood.

He was covered in it, his feet sloshed in it and soaked him to the bone. He swung the machete, felt it make contact with skin then sinew then bone, felt it slice all the way through.

More blood, spraying hot on his face.

His prom date was next. His hands wrapped around her throat, watching as her eyes rolled into the back of her head. Lucifer laughed in glee when he finished her off.

Fury...vast and unending assaulted him and next he knew he was slamming a fist into Dean's face, pummeling him, heedless of the pleas issuing from him to stop.

Then he was falling...falling forever.

The bottom was in sight. Looming closer and closer. Impact was imminent until...

Shooting up with a start and a sharp inhale, his heart pounded furiously in his chest.

With shaky hands, he flung off the sweat-soaked covers, the room suddenly becoming too small for him, the walls closing in. He had to get out- he couldn't breathe.

He swayed a little dizzily upon standing, having spent so long lying down, but he didn't wait for the faintness to pass before bolting from the room.

Fear had him in its grip and there was no escaping it; no reprieve.

His heart beat faster, his fingers tingled and his muscles froze, it was hard to move and becoming more and more difficult to breathe.

In the dark hallway, he fought for control over the fear, but it kept coming in wave after wave. He wanted to just curl into a ball and hide or die, but he knew that there was plenty of what he needed in the kitchen downstairs.

Hurrying down the steps to the dark room, he rifled through the cabinets, knocking over cups and making a holy racket, but he was beyond caring about that. He just needed something to make the pain in his chest go away, something to slow his heart down. Maybe then he could breathe...

He finally hit a cool length of glass and he could have cried in relief to see that it was a bottle of Jack. Shaking hands worked quickly at unscrewing the cap and he downed several swallows all at once, letting the amber liquid burn down his throat. Sighing in relief once he felt the heat of the alcohol spread from his stomach and throughout his body, he held the bottle close to his chest and breathed in deep, closing his eyes.

He hadn't meant for it to happen, he had fought so hard to fight it, had staved off sleep as long as he could.

But his body had taken over in its exhaustion and dragged him down. He hadn't even realized he had drifted off until the nightmare had taken over and now he had to fight to keep the images from that dream out of his head. The whiskey helped some, but it wasn't enough.

He still needed to get out.

Taking the bottle with him, he headed for the door and was outside on the porch, curling his long legs into his chest after taking a seat on the steps. He took a couple more swigs of the drink and prayed for the panic continuing to claw up his chest to dissipate.

Up above, the night sky was dark, but clear. Pinpoints of light from the stars sparkled and at last, he felt his heart begin to calm down. He looked up at the constellations and tried to concentrate on naming them- anything to distract him from the thoughts and memories coursing through his head.

Behind him, the door opened and shut quietly.

It took him a few moments to come to the realization that he wasn't alone any longer and that the spot on the step next to him that had been empty was now filled.

Not a word was exchanged and Sam was too ashamed to turn his head and look at the brother that more than once had saved his life. The same brother he in return had betrayed over and over again.

Just then his feet became the focus of his sight.

A hand grabbed the bottle of Jack he had been nursing, but he couldn't bring himself to watch as Dean took a couple of mouthfuls.

They sat there quietly for some time, never making eye contact and doing nothing but passing the bottle back and forth, watching the stars move across the sky.


Dean could see the shivers rippling through Sam as he sat next to him on the porch steps. Though it wasn't a cold night, his little brother was curled in on himself like he was freezing. But, Dean knew it wasn't anything physical causing the tremors.

He wasn't sure how long he sat there silently with Sam, but he came to the conclusion earlier that day that forcing Sam to open up wasn't going to work, but only serve to push him away further. Dean wasn't by nature a patient man, but he knew he had to let Sam be the first to speak, if he ever did that night. However, just seeing him out of bed was a small step in the right direction and he had to take whatever small victories he could.

"I miss it." Sam suddenly spoke, breaking through Dean's thoughts and shattering the quiet. Sam still wouldn't face him, but continued to talk, his voice carrying a heavy weight and weariness that Dean could practically feel himself.

"Miss what?" Dean prodded, needing more.

"Not being able to feel anything- being empty. It was... easier. I wasn't afraid, I wasn't angry, I didn't feel guilty...I wasn't...anything- like I was hollow inside.." Sam sighed and took another drink. "But now...now I'm so full I could burst."

Dean grabbed the bottle back from Sam and took some more Jack for himself, concentrating on how to respond. Sam's burden and pain was heavy. He had gone so long without emotions that he had forgotten how to deal with them and it was no wonder Sam had checked out to such an extent after getting his soul back. The emotional tidal wave he was experiencing was overwhelming him and Dean would do anything to take some of it off of his shoulders. He could lie and tell him that it was all gonna be okay, that the feelings he had resurfacing now would get better, that he'd get over it. But, Dean decided to go the truth route.

"Believe it or not. I get it. I know why you let that douche bag take your soul...you came back from Hell and he offered to take all of that pain and fear away in exchange for it. After I came back, if someone had offered the same thing to me, I would have taken it too."

"No, you wouldn't have..."

"Trust me, Sam." Dean came back honestly. "I would have. But, just because something is easier, doesn't make it better."

"Yeah. Through it all I knew it was wrong, that I was missing a vital piece of myself and it was like all I could do to fill that void was hunt. I killed without remorse, used innocent people as bait without batting an eye." Sam sighed heavily. "But the worst part was I hurt you, I lied to you and I let you get turned by that vampire...and I just didn't care." Sam finally turned his head and looked Dean directly in the eyes, tears brimming and starting to fall freely. "But I feel it all now, Dean and I don't expect you to forgive me or trust me ever again...but, I'm so sorry. Sorry for not being there for you, for acting like such a..."

"Dick? Jerk? Asshole?" Dean answered for him, offering his own brand of forgiveness.

"Yeah...and then some." Sam hiccuped and grinned momentarily before his face fell completely and he crumbled before Dean's eyes. Sam put his head down on his knees and began to sob openly and freely, letting go.

Dean's arm wrapped around Sam's shoulders as they shook. He hated to see Sam like this- so lost and broken, but for the first time in a very long time he felt he truly had his little brother back.

The End