A/N: This story is dedicated to all the loyal Sam fans who, like me, long to see our Sammy back again and reunited with his brother. Sam and Dean FTW!

Disclaimer: I don't own those gorgeous boys – wish I did though!

Burnt Out Ends

Burnt out ends of smoky days,

The stale cold smell of morning,

The street lamp dies,

Another night is over,

Another day is dawning.

~ Memory, Andrew Lloyd Webber ~

The first time it happened was two months after Sam got his soul back. Nightmares were to be expected and so Dean hadn't been terribly surprised the first time Sam had woken from a much-needed sleep screaming himself hoarse. He had felt wretched for his brother, (his brother, how good that sounded), but not surprised. Even though it was over three years now, Dean still remembered those first few months (could he ever forget?); how sleep had become the enemy and alcohol the friend who helped him nightly into a dreamfree oblivion. Sam, now that he was Sam again, had shunned the idea of living in an alcoholic daze, determined to face what he felt in his own twisted Samlike way he deserved. It was part of his punishment, he believed, for letting Lucifer out (and when would he ever feel he had been punished enough?). Of course he had not said this to Dean in so many words, but then when had he ever needed to? Dean understood Sam, this Sam, better than he understood himself sometimes. Words were superfluous in circumstances like these. So when Sam had had his first nightmare (memory?) of Hell, it had been all too expected. But this was different.

~ O ~ O ~ O ~

Sam shot up in bed, his chest vibrating with the rapid pounding of his heart, droplets of sweat clinging to the ends of his too-long hair and trickling down the sides of his face. As his racing mind ran over the images that were branded all too clearly in his thoughts, he scrambled out of his bed, feeling frantic when his legs got tangled in the sweaty sheets, and stumbled over to the huddled lump in the other bed, determined to check, to make sure…

~ O ~ O ~ O ~

Dean awoke to fingers, sweaty, large fingers, feeling around in his mouth. Reacting instinctively he slapped the hand away and jolted upright, reaching for the knife under his pillow as he did so, only pausing when he heard the soft apologies in that all-too familiar voice.

"Sam?" He cleared his throat from the remaining cobwebs of sleep and tried again.

"Sammy? What're you doing? It's" he checked his watch, "five in the morning, dude. And why were you feeling around in my mouth?"

Dean could tell that Sam was blushing even though it was dark; he had his blushing voice.

"I-I'm sorry Dean. I just-I. I had a nightmare and I wanted to check whether it was real," he blurted out, clearly hoping that if he said it fast enough, Dean would just let it go. Ha. Fat chance.

"Wait. Why would you be checking my mouth to see if your nightmare….oh. Sammy, were you checking for vampire teeth?"

~ O ~ O ~ O ~

Sam hung his head, feeling like an idiot. Of course Dean wasn't a vampire; that was ridiculous. And now he had just woken up his brother from a much-needed sleep by essentially feeling him up. Dean would never let him forget this. In fact, he was surprised that Dean hadn't already made some snarky remark. Granted, Dean had been very gentle with Sam of late, but this was such a golden opportunity for teasing that surely he couldn't let it pass. Why was he letting it pass?

Sam looked up uncertainly. "Uh, Dean?"

In the dim light from the parking lot, he could see that his brother had his head in his hands. A knot of anxiety started to form, curling insidiously in his stomach.

"Dean?" he asked again, more urgently this time. "What's wrong? It was just a nightmare….right? I mean, I know those nightmares of H- of Hell, those are real, but this, this was just a nightmare. I mean, I would never let you be turned into a vampire. That's just….I…." his voice fizzled out, as Dean looked up, eyes glistening.

"Dean?" his voice was shaking now.

Dean took a deep breath to steady his own voice. "Sammy, I'm sorry. I…I didn't think you would remember. I mean no one knows how this whole soul thing works, y'know, and it seemed bizarre to think you would have two sets of memories so when you didn't remember at first, I didn't push it, because I didn't want you to remember, but if I had known that this would happen, I would have told you, I would have I swear, and I'm so sorry."

Sam felt the knot turn into a rock, weighing heavily in his gut. When he spoke again, his voice was surprisingly steady and expressionless.

"Dean, what are you talking about? Whatmemories?"

"Your body's memories, from when you were in the cage." Dean didn't want to say in Hell, "You remember I told you that your body was around for over a year before we got you back in there…"

"Yes, but….but I….surely…Dean I wouldn't have done something like that…would I?" Sam's voice was desperate now.

"Sam, it…it wasn't you. It was your body, sure, but it wasn't you. You wouldn't have done something like that. But you weren't there…so…"

The rock had turned into a boulder and Sam felt ill.

"I let you get turned into a vampire. I let you get turned into a vampire. I let you get turned. How could I? How can you even look at me? "

Dean was beside him now, hand on his chin, forcing Sam to look him in the eye in the dim morning light.

"Sam, listen to me, listen to me damn it. It wasn't you. And I know that. And I knew that then. So you didn't let anything happen. You were in Hell, for goodness' sake! You weren't you! So I don't want to hear any of this emo 'how can you even look at me' crap, because I am looking at you right now and you are my brother and there is nothing to forgive. You hear me?"

Sam nodded, feeling embarrassed when a trail of moisture that was decidedly not sweat made its way down his cheek. He turned his face away from Dean's, rubbing it as surreptitiously as he could and stared determinedly down at his bare feet on the stained carpet as he tried to regain control over his emotions. Funny how since coming back from H- from Hell, his body seemed to respond extra strongly to even the slightest emotions, as if it was trying to make up for lost time.

Dean didn't comment, just shifted his hand to Sam's shoulder and gently squeezed, letting him know in the way only Winchesters could that he was there for Sam and wasn't going anywhere.

~ O ~ O ~ O ~

That was the first time it happened. After that Sam's dreams of Hell were interspersed with dreams of the year his body and soul had been apart. Dean always knew when Sam had had one of those dreams because whilst his Hell dreams were accompanied by screaming and pained writhing, his Earth dreams (as Dean had dubbed them) were characterized by a strained silence in which the only sound that could be heard was muffled sobs.

Dean knew what to do when Sam had a Hell dream. He had experienced those himself after all. But he had never had his body walking around doing things that his soul would be ashamed of, never had to remember those things one by one. On these occasions, Dean could do nothing but sit on Sam's bed, his hand on his shoulder, anchoring him until he calmed down.

Sometimes Sam would talk about it, haltingly telling him what he remembered. And Dean would listen, listen to Sam's guilt over having sex whilst Dean had been abducted, to his remorse over the many lies he had told Dean and to his wretchedness over the innocent lives that he had sacrificed for an end that his empty shell had felt was justified.

At other times, he would remain silent, curling in upon himself, wracked with horror at some act that he could not bring himself to share, even or maybe especially, with Dean. And Dean would sit in silence with him, giving him a mute support that said more than words ever could.

It was going to be a long haul, no doubt, but they were in it together. He had his brother back, and no matter what it took to convince Sam that he was Sam, the same little brother that Dean had always known and cared for, he would do it. And he would do it again and again and again until Sam got it. Because after all, that's what big brothers do.

The End

A/N: Feedback is always appreciated:-) And I would love to hear what you think of the new season so far…For myself, I'm thoroughly enjoying it, but I definitely want to see Sam get his soul back soon and go back to being Dean's little brother;-)