Chapter 1: The Visitor

His bed was always up against the wall, nearest the window. His brother's bed was always nearest the door. And even twenty eight years later, it was still like that. Always seemed to be standing guard, always was protective. It never changed. It really seemed to especially intensify since Sam had gotten his soul back. He was still grateful for Bobby letting them stay there while Sam worked through those first agonizing hours of being resouled. Though granted those first few days were probably the worst Sam had ever dealt with in his entire life, emotions slamming him in every possible direction, feelings that he hadn't felt in almost a year and a half left him nearly paralyzed the first day. A quivering mass of fear, shame, guilt, and heartache curled up on the bed and unyielding. The first day he couldn't even bring himself to speak, he'd just stared and shook convulsively while Dean tried urging him up. His older brother had sat with him, running fingers through his hair, talking to him, offering him food, water, anything to get him to move, but all Sam could do was just look at him as he struggled to process all the thoughts, memories and emotions flowing through him until he fell asleep about midday, from all the exhaustion, and slept the entire afternoon and night through until the next morning.

He'd woken Dean up with a low, just absolutely heartbreaking keening noise coming from his bed, curled up in a ball with tears streaming down his face and his shoulders trembling with every hitched breath. He'd cried and cried and cried and could do nothing but cry and repeat over and over and over again how sorry he was while Dean stayed by his side and tried his best to calm his baby brother. He helped Sam sit up, drink water to keep himself from becoming dehydrated. A few times he'd attempted to dry Sam's tears, but it became pointless after awhile. Sam eventually just cried himself to sleep. The third day there was no crying, but Sam had woke up screaming. He'd screamed and clutched his head and wouldn't stop screaming. It had been worse than the times Dean had to put Sam in the panic room for detox. He'd even considered rushing Sam down to the panic room, as they'd been at Bobby's, but he couldn't find it in his heart to do that to his little brother. He needed contact. There was no sense in him being alone. He wasn't violent, just screaming.

So instead, while Sam collapsed to his knees screaming absolute bloody murder, Dean went to his knees along with Sam and held onto him, talking to him, speaking soothing words and trying to calm him, but all in vain. All his younger brother had done was bury his head into Dean's shoulder, continuously screaming, his cries becoming muffled by his brother's shirt. It had gotten so bad that he'd called Castiel down to find out what was wrong with Sam. Surprisingly, the angel was there in a heartbeat and a flutter of wings. Cas had put both hands on the sides of Sam's head and looked at Dean gravely. "Sam's emotions are making the memories of all the regrettable things he's done without his soul along with his memories of the past very powerful. Both of these sets of memories are crashing against one another causing Sam immense, emotional, inner pain," the angel had explained.

Dean had pleaded for help then, and Cas kept his hands on the sides of Sam's head. The younger Winchester had stopped screaming and slowly raised his head to face Cas, his eyes widened and frightened, face beet red from the screaming, his breath heavy, gasping and erratic, but the screaming had come to a complete halt. Then Castiel gently placed two fingers on Sam's forehead, putting the young hunter into a deep, angel-induced slumber. "This should help those sets of memories from conflicting against one another and should make it easier on Sam, but I will warn you Dean. Sam is broken and he's going to need you to help fix him. He is what you might refer to as damaged goods." And Sam slept on and through the entire night, with Dean staying right by his side should his baby brother need anything.

The fourth day, Sam had woken still feeling like pure shit, but better than the first few days had been. Dean had fallen asleep in his bed next to him and so Sam had silently slipped out, retreated to the bathroom to shower and shave. He'd come out thoroughly clean, baby-faced and dressed just as Dean sat up in the bed looking at him, throwing him questions, asking him if he was alright. Sam had given him a shaky smile and told him the truth that no, he wasn't and he didn't know when he'd be, but that he couldn't let this control his entire life and everything he was doing. Not only that, but as long as Dean was there, he'd make it through. Dean had smiled back, and the two brothers headed down to the kitchen and ate breakfast while Sam began scouring his laptop for a hunt. Dean had watched and knew it was for his sake while Sam pulled himself together and focused on the job. And so they hunted together, fought monsters and such all the while with Sam flinching, blanching and shying away from his brother, terrified of doing something wrong or hurting him. Things continued on like this and Dean kept quiet about it, not wanting to say the wrong thing that might upset or hurt a very fragile-stated Sam. The younger Winchester had to admit, he was grateful for Dean doing this for him. He wasn't sure how much he could honestly take before he truly fell apart again.

That was awhile ago. Sam sighed and leaned back against the wooden headboard of their now warm motel room and watched the snow steadily falling out the window so near his bed. It was Christmas Eve and Dean was seated on the edge of his own bed, downing a bottle of whiskey. He held up a more than half drank beer bottle, sloshing around the warm, left over contents at the bottom of the bottle. Every since he'd gotten his soul back and was still hunting alongside his brother, Sam couldn't help but feel the darkening cloud that continued to fill him up from the inside out and settle over the core of his very being. He'd fought hard against it, reminding himself that he was lucky to be alive and be with his brother again, but then he'd remember everything he did to hurt Dean, and it pushed him deeper and deeper into a pit of despair until sometimes Sam would wait until Dean was sound asleep and then would retreat into the bathroom. He'd shut the door softly behind him so as not to wake his snoozing brother, turning on the shower or the faucet to drown out any noise while he curled into a ball in the furthest corner of the bathroom to sob his lungs out.

Sometimes, he'd slip out of the motel room as silently as possible and take a walk to try and clear his head, but it never worked. His mind was always working, always thinking, neverending. It was always filled with something no matter how hard Sam tried to clear it. He'd go for walks, read books, focus on jobs, do research for whatever hunt they were on whether it was needed or not, watch TV, but the only thing that seemed to give his brain a break from all of this was just sleep. Sam blamed himself for Dean losing Lisa and Ben. He blamed himself for letting his brother get turned into a vampire, but of course he didn't tell Dean any of this. He didn't want his older brother worrying about him. Dean had enough to deal with.

Sam knew Dean better than anybody. He knew that if Dean had an inkling of what was going through his mind, the older Winchester would be even worse on the constant outlook for his younger brother than he was right now. Sam never wanted Dean to know just how much suffering, how much heartbreak and remorse he was actually feeling since the return of his essence. When the two brothers were out together, cruising, Sam put on a false smile, would laugh at all of Dean's jokes, just chilled in the front seat of the Impala. They'd joke around with each other in diners about the food or waitresses.

Dean never wasted a moment teasing Sam about the silent "how you doin's" he used to give girls back when he was soulless. Sam kept up with the playful, all-in-good-fun brotherly banter, and they even teased each other on simple salt-n-burns, using placating gestures around Dean to keep him thinking Sam was fine, but the constant feeling of remorse and contrition weighed over him daily. Guilt for all the innocent lives he took when it was just his body traveling around topside, hunting like it was the only thing in his life he had, not caring about other people or even caring about his own brother or just using pretty, unsuspecting women for casual, careless sex because he'd been horny and sex still felt good and he'd wanted some.

The guilt and shame he felt when it came to Jessica and for Madison would come back over that and how much he knew they'd hurt if they had known what Sam had done. He hadn't worried or cared about their memory during that time. Sometimes when the pain got to be too overbearing, Sam could understand, prior to his resouling, why his mind had processed that it didn't want it's soul back, that it didn't want to feel all this endless torment. All that had mattered before was getting the job done and moving on to the next because that's all Sam had really known and understood...sort of, but at the same time Sam had had no real instinct or a moral center to keep him grounded.

Nope. He'd just went on the hunt, killing innocent people if they were in his way on a job without a care in the world. It wasn't that Sam didn't care in a cruel, harsh "I don't give a rat's ass" sort of way, no. It was because he couldn't care. But having his soul was very important and necessary. Innocent people didn't deserve to die just because they were in his way. His brother didn't deserve to be repeatedly lied to and betrayed. Not to mention there were also the memories of Hell, but Sam didn't want to go into that. He felt he deserved that suffering, and so Sam didn't dwell on the memories of Hell. He'd had it coming to him. All of it. He'd let Lucifer out and it was only fitting he put him back in and deal with every bit of torture and suffering that had been laid on him. The only time he couldn't control his memories of Hell was in his nightmares. That's when he'd find Dean waking him up. It was like Jessica's death all over again.

Sam huffed a sigh, drinking down the last disgusting backwash of warm beer before sitting the bottle on the nightstand in between his and Dean's beds. Sam heaved himself from his bed, making his way over to the small kitchen inside of the motel room where a little makeshift refridgerator stood. He opened up the door to grab himself another beer and traveled back to have another seat on his bed, hand groping for the TV remote to flick on the television and at least have some kind of noise in the room if and his brother weren't going to talk. Sam had noticed for about the last week that Dean was barely speaking at all, and he'd wondered why. Sam wondered if perhaps he'd done something to piss off his big brother or hurt him. He sifted through his brain, brushing past previous memories to see if he'd done anything recently. Not that he could recall.

Though not wanting to risk actually pissing off his older brother, he kept to himself and only spoke when spoken to or when it was absolutely necessary. Sam couldn't help but wonder what was going through Dean's mind as he flipped on the television and watched his wayward brother throw back another long drink straight from the bottle. He was eventually going to end up drinking himself into a stupor. Here it was Christmas Eve. There were no jobs this year as far as Sam could tell as he'd definitely kept his eyes and ears peeled on both the news on TV and his laptop, but much to his and Dean's dismay, there was nothing. Sam was about to say something to his older brother when he was completely cut off by a large fluttering of wings. Dean sat up blinking and Sam looked up to see Castiel standing in front of them, his face routinely blank as normal. His eyes flicked back and forth between the two Winchesters before the angel spoke up.

"Well, aren't you two a sight?" he responded in his deadpanned tone. Cas had definitely picked up on some of the Dean Winchester sarcasm. "You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Sitting in your room on Christmas Eve drinking. You should be at the church alter praying and praising the birth of Christ."

"Yeah, well, we didn't feel like pulling on our snow boots this year," responded Dean in his customary way with derisive smirk to match. He took another long drink from his bottle. "What do you want, Cas? Shouldn't you be upstairs fighting alongside the heavenly host?"

Sam said nothing running a hand through his hair, and Castiel shook his head gravely. "I'm beginning to think he was right. I think you two need reminded of quite a few things. Maybe not only the importance of Christmas but the importance of yourselves. Of how you're needed."

"Why does it matter anyway?" Sam piped up, his voice an octave higher than usual and without a doubt anger touch the tip. He stood up swiftly from his bed to tower over Castiel. The younger Winchester laughed scornfully. "Importance of me? Heh, Dean maybe, but not me," he insisted shaking his dark head, causing long locks to fall into his hazel eyes. Sam brushed them back in an irritated manner. "In case you forgot, Cas, I killed innocent people, okay? I didn't care if they were innocent or not. If they were in my way when I was doing the job, I just got rid of them. I let my own brother get turned into a monster while I stood idly by and watched all for the sake of the damn job and now you're coming here and telling me that I'm important? Especially on Christmas Eve? You've got to be joking," Sam snorted mockingly and turned away from the angel, draining his newly opened beer before turning and throwing it across the motel room.

Castiel stood still in his usual, calm, motionless manner and observed the young hunter, not allowing Sam's momentary show of temper affect him. "If you truly feel that way, Sam, then why don't you pray for forgiveness?"

"HAH!" Dean laughed out loud at that one. "You don't think he hasn't tried, Cas? You don't think that maybe just maybe if God were listening, he wouldn't have left my little brother trapped down in a damn cage, with two pissed off archangels, one of them being the damn Devil to boot, to suffer? After he took one for the whole damn team to save the entire world?"

"I didn't mean-," Castiel began but was cut off once again by an angry, yet still protective Dean.

"This is stupid, Cas. You can't blame Sam for losing that 'undying faith' he used to have after all the bullshit he's been through," Dean was now standing up in front of where the angel stood unmoving, and Sam had turned his back on both of them, staring out of the window with his hands loosely resting against his hips. It was his usual posture when Sam was feeling pissed off or hurt or both. "And you can't actually expect Sam to sit there on your little church alters and pray for forgiveness when it's not even his fault to begin with!" Dean was shouting now and Castiel just stood and stared at him.

"Well, this is besides the point anyway," Cas began as the Winchesters had both now fallen quiet; one standing in front of him staring at him with fury blazing in his vivid, green eyes and the other with his back still turned, staring out of the window, position unchanging. "I came to tell you that both you need reminding of many things. Tonight you will be visited by three spirits." Castiel chose to ignore the jeering laugh that shot out of Dean's mouth and the snort that escaped Sam. "They will take you through your past, your present and your future."

"What is this, Cas? The freaking Christmas Carol?" questioned Sam, as he turned around to face Castiel with one, thin eyebrow raised inquiringly at the angel, his hazel eyes seering into him.

"I'm sorry. I do not understand that reference," Castiel responded, a look of confusion carefully grazing his angelic features.

Dean huffed loudly. "Well, as far as I'm concerned, after everything we've dealt with, tolerated and been through these past couple of years, I say we're more than entitled to be Scrooges if we damn well want," the older Winchester growled, his arms folding over his chest.

"I apologize again, Dean, but I still don't understand that reference." Castiel cocked an eyebrow before continuing. "These spirits will be visiting you in hopes of giving you both reminders of how important you are. How important you are to the hunting world, to the people you've saved, to the people yet to be saved and to each other." But before either brother had a chance to say a word to Cas, there was a fluttering of wings and the angel disappeared.

Sam flopped himself down heavily on the edge of his bed, leaning forward with his elbows resting on his knees and hands folded loosely between them. Dean followed suit. Both brothers looked at each other with their eyebrows drawn. "So, Cas is taking us through a Christmas Carol, huh? How delightful," Dean grumbled sardonically taking another heavy drink from his bottle of whiskey. "Well, I certainly don't see any ghosts of Christmas past showing up," he continued, sitting the bottle on the nightstand and leaning back against his pillows, arms folded behind his blond head, green eyes closing.

Sam watched the steady rise and fall of his brother's chest and just shook his back and forth figuring Cas was just being crazy and that nothing as absurd as that was actually going to happen before laying down on his side, facing away from his older brother and sinking into his pillows closing his heavy, hazel eyes. Even if Cas did show them something as ridiculous as that, it wouldn't change how Sam felt about himself. He couldn't be a hunter anymore. There was just no way. Too many misconceptions, too many innocent lives lost because of him and he just couldn't make those mistakes again. Honestly, Sam didn't think he could handle it again at all if another innocent life was lost on his behalf. The younger Winchester closed his weary eyes, near losing himself in the throes of sleep before he heard a voice whispering in his ear. "Sam. Sam Winchester."

~TBC~

Preview of Chapter 2:

"Look at this, Dean," she told him gently as he watched Sam laying in Jessica's arms, his face buried into her hair and shoulders jerking up and down every now and again. He watched the blonde shooshing him and running thin fingers through Sam's shaggy hair, her own head resting against his. "Don't you see? Don't you see how much he loved you back then? How much he cared for you and he missed you? Sam never once stopped loving you. He always thought of you as his big brother and that never changed. Here. Follow me." The scene swiftly changed to a still tall, thin and lanky almost preppy image of Sammy sitting on one of the many benches surrounding the college, clutching his phone in his hand and the name highlighted on his phone was Dean. Her hand rested gently on Dean's shoulder. "What does this tell you?" he questioned him gently and Dean just stared at her with an expression that said if only he had known.


Side Note:

(Due to my anonymous review, I would just like to point out that before anybody starts getting any ideas here, no this story is not about just Dean and only Dean learning a lesson to make him look bad and make Sam look good. I am WELL aware of the mistakes Sam made. I am also well aware of the mistakes Dean made as well. This story is to show both of the boys just how important they truly are. This is a story about brotherly love and support. I'm also not going to make Sam dwell over supposedly not being supportive of Dean or whatever during his time in Hell. He has enough guilt laid on his shoulders to deal with one more thing. Anyway, I'm just pointing out that this is not going to be a one-sided story. Both of these brothers are in this together mutually and will be learning lessons and coming to realizations mutually.)