Warnings: Spoilers up to 6x11

Author's Note: DAM DAM DAM DAM: Here it is! THE VERY LAST installment of 'Meeting at Samarra'! I know it is a week late, but a couple of pale douchebags and someone weird chick I've never seen before got in the way of my muse.

BTW: Somewhere in the past chapters I used the word 'humbled', thinking it meant the same thing as 'honored'...sorry folks...my mistake!


Disclaimer: All mine! (I wish...)

So here you have it.


Chapter 6: Reinforced

As soon as they had entered the livingroom Dean pulled Bobby aside and explained his brother's situation to the older hunter, cautioning him to give Sam time and space to accommodate to all these new sensations. Meanwhile said Winchester stood awkwardly near the table, unsure whether to take a seat or bolt back upstairs. Already his emotions were running wild, especially when he dared to dart a glance towards the bearded hunter. It wasn't the case that the young man liked being boarded-up in his room like a hermit, but so far the issues between him and Bobby had not been resolved. Different to his brother, who seemed to be handing out second chances as easily as flyers lately, there was no way of telling if the older man could ever forgive him for what he had done. Sam's shoulders visibly slumped at the thought. His eyes flickered longingly back towards the door, but his sibling was already on his way over to him.
Dean apparantly had noticed his distress and swiftly relieved him of the decision by manhandling him into a chair and gave his shoulder a supportive squeeze.

Throughout dinner Sam kept to himself, grateful to have a plate in front of him to stare at and barely payed attention to the relaxed conversation at the table. Both hunters would repeatedly cast side-glances at him to check how he was holding up, but didn't bother him for the time being. The young man knew how childish his behaviour was, especially since he seemed to be the only one picking up on the suffocating tension in the room. What else was he supposed to do, though? Too many things had been left unsaid for him to find the courage to meet Bobby's eyes, let alone talk to him. He had always been sheepish when it came to confrontations like these and his current condition only added to his trepidation. Therefore he simply continued to poke unenthusiastically at his food until the ordeal was over.
Ten painful minutes later the table was cleared and Dean had joined the head of the house in the kitchen to do the dishes. Letting out a relieved breath Sam leaned back in his chair and scrubbed his slightly shaking hands over his face in order to get a grip on himself. The tension was killing him. For about the hundredth time that night his eyes found the stairway in the hall. He had to get out of here. Throwing a last glance at the currently occupied hunters he got up as quietly as possible. He was just about to make his way out of the room and towards salvation when suddenly Bobby's rough voice filled the air.

"Where do you think you're going?"

The young man froze mid-stride like a deer caught in the headlights. His heart was thumping away in his chest as an unexpected wave of fear hit him. God, he hated this. Biting his lip he turned around to face the older hunter's quizzically raised eyebrows. From the corner of his eye he could make out Dean's worried glance resting on his trembling form, but Sam couldn't take any comfort in it. Embarrassed he averted his eyes to the floor as he ran his fingers through his long hair.
"I...I just..." he meekly stammered in lack of an excuse.

"I ain't playing 'heads up' poker any longer, so get your ass back in your chair." Bobby rumbled pointedly.

Sam's head snapped up in surprise. Just like Dean the youngest Winchester had long since learned to make out the undertones in the old man's brusque nature. Just then an unexpected fondness had coloured his words. A warmth that was reserved for his 'idjits' only, not for the man who had tried to kill him merely days ago. It took Sam completely off guard. In a heartbeat his frightened expression was replaced with such an innocent hopefulness, he looked like a little boy again.

An amused smile appeared on Bobby's face when he took in the sight before him. With every passing second in the new Sam's presence it became harder to associate him with the hard and cold man he had been just days ago. The change was striking. Dean had already told him about it, however seeing it with his own two eyes was a whole different thing. All night long Bobby had observed the boy, had wanted to test himself if he was ready forgive. No matter how close he looked, though, there was simply nothing left of the man who had tried to waste him in his own house. Just good old Sammy Winchester, the smart little kid he had watched grow up into one of the finest hunters he had ever known. The same man, who was standing in front of him now, hands buried in his pockets, with a silent plea in his eyes that could melt even the hardest hunter's heart.

Remembering a similar situation years back in a depressing hospital room he said:

"And next time you and your brother swing by, you better have that damned medal with ya."

Barely a heartbeat later Bobby found himself enveloped by two long arms that held him in a rib crushing Sasquatch-hug, squeezing the air out of his lungs. His eyes widened in surprise, unable to keep up with the erratic mood swings of his youngest protege.
"Boy, you really are catching up on one year of emotions, aren't ya?" he grunted out dumbfounded and gave the tall man a warm pat on the back.

His inquiring glance flickered towards the older Winchester, asking him wordlessly if he had meant this kind of behaviour by his earlier warning. Dean helplessly shrugged his shoulders and leaned relaxed against the kitchen counter as he watched the exchange. Right now his sibling was like a surprise bag on crack, overflowing with every possible emotion, but you never knew which one you were going to get. Anger, relief, sorrow, you name it. Dean had had his fair share of most of them by now, but somehow he simply couldn't seem to get enough.

"Thanks, Bobby. Really, thank you." Sam whispered breathlessly before he finally let go. The young hunter's eyes were suspiciously bleary and even the old man had to bite his cheek to fight back the emotions.

In the meantime Dean wondered if it was possible to send Death a fruit basket.

From the first minute on it had been obviously that the older Winchester had made it his business to help Sam readjust to his newly regained emotions. It had started off slow, nearly gentle with a little prodding here, a slight nudge there to test out his tolerances. Nonetheless Dean had never been known for his outstanding amount of sensitivity and thereby bestowed the most draining days of his life upon Sam.

The only emotion that became a constant factor to hold onto was embarrassment. Overnight Dean had officially promoted him from 'little brother' to 'lab rat' and was using every trick in the book to push Sam's buttons and help him to get a grip on his feelings. He had even come up with a name for his sibling's condition: his 'newfound level of geeky weirdness', which earned him a well-deserved death-glare from said geek and a pillow colliding with his face.

From breakfast till sundown Sam was faced with a barrage of questions and impressions, childhood memories and hunting stories until his brain would turn into jello. There was no hiatus to slowly adjust to one sensation at a time, no break to take a breath. By the end of each day Sam was so drained, he could have fallen asleep while standing upright. The only consolation prize that kept him from going ballistic was the fact, that his brother was right beside him and guiding him. Whenever Dean discovered a new facet of his sibling's resurfacing emotions he would gloat with pride like a five-year-old kid, successfully putting a stop to Sam's growing urges to strange the man in his sleep. Especially after Dean had noticed that his new favourite toy was still afraid of clowns. On the first day alone the youngest Winchester had had several panic attacks, belly-ache inducing convulsions of laughter, hell, he even had cried over a goddam movie!

Yes, Dean's methods were admittedly dubious, but for some reason they actually seemed to be working. Already by the third day Sam's outbursts had become scarce and less erratic in nature. Even the knowledge that his sibling was having a blast at his expense didn't annoy him anymore. As a matter of fact he actually kind of started to like it. For years their lives had consisted of nothing, but pain, looming destinies and death. Sam had almost forgotten how his brother's laugh sounded, let alone his own. Judging by the amazement he found in his siblings eyes, whenever he caught him staring at him, the feeling seemed to be mutual.

Sadly the growing ease also gave him more time to think. About purgatory, about their grandfather and the Alphas, but most of all about the things he had done over the past year. By the forth night the nightmares had returned. Memories, that coloured his nights red and stayed with him throughout the day as bruise-like circles under his eyes. At first he didn't quite understand why his brother suddenly felt the need to intensify their 'emotion training' and simply went along with it. When Dean's worried side-glances became more frequent, though, he finally understood. The reason, why the older Winchester had pushed him so hard was not just to get him back on track. He wanted to keep him occupied, grounded in the presence. Sam appreciated it and tried his best to humour his sibling. But at one point the edge between appreciation and falsehood had started to become blurry and in the past lies had always proven to be their Achilles' heel.

"It's not gonna work anymore, Dean." he had muttered, interrupting his brother's cheerful voice mid-sentence. Dean's face had gone blank as soon as he had realized he had been caught. For a few seconds they had just stared at each other, a silent conversation that left no room for facades or pretences, until each was back at a level with the other.

Finally Dean had nodded and averted his eyes to the table they had currently been sitting at. With a confidence that left no room for any shadow of a doubt he had answered:

"We'll get through this."

Nearly two weeks had past since his little rendezvous with Joe Black and they had finally decided to get back on the road. Dean was still inside, getting his stuff packed and ready to go, while Sam was sitting on the front steps to Bobby's house. It was just after lunch and the sun was high in the sky, bathing his face in a harsh brightness. A gentle breeze had picked up and occasionally pushed long strands of his brown hair into his eyes, but Sam hardly even noticed. Absentmindedly he swirled the already warm beer in his bottle while his eyes stared off into thin air. His brother had spend the every waking minute boosting his little brother's self-confidence and rattling through an apparently never-ending list of differences between Sam and his soulless version. Oddly enough it actually kind of helped. Even though the memories were still hunting him in his dreams and most parts of the day, he wasn't controlled by them anymore. Which didn't mean he wouldn't wallow in them every now and again.

Suddenly someone gave him a slap over the head.

"Ouch!" Dumbfounded Sam looked up, his eyes landing on the older Winchester who was standing idly behind him. Apparently he was done packing and back on brother-watch.

"What was that for?" the young man exclaimed irritated as he rubbed the sore spot.

Instead of looking at his sibling Dean regarded the scrapyard with a lazy glance as he stated matter-of-factly:
"Stop looking like a kicked puppy, Sam. Wasn't your fault." His stance was relaxed despite the firm conviction in his voice. Over the past few days they have had this conversation countless times and his part in it came natural by now.

"You already said that." Sam muttered, glance glued to the ground.

The older hunter looked down to him, as he noticed the meek quality of the younger man's voice. An indulgent smile appeared on his face.
"Yeah, well. I'm gonna keep saying it until you actually get it."

"I know." Sam sighed and scooted over a bit, so his sibling could take a seat on the stairs, too. Wordlessly Dean followed the offer, giving his copilot an encouraging nudge on the way down. For a couple of minutes neither of them spoke, just enjoyed the comfortable quiet, but as soon as Dean's eyes drifted towards the Impala the silence was over.

"Just, try to think of soulless-you as a car without a driver. The motor is running but no one is on board to steer the thing and keep it on the road. So whatever it ran over in that time, whatever happened because of it, it's nobody's fault."

Sam chuckled helplessly at his smirking sibling, who was obviously pleased with his own genius. "Tell that to the cops who arrest you the very next morning for manslaughter through culpable negligence."

In feigned annoyance Dean narrowed his eyes to slits. "You really are a glass half empty, you know that? And stop shredding my allegories, lawyer-boy. They're actually not half bad."

"Yeah, right." Sam mocked. "At lunch you compared me to a pie."

The older man's brows pulled together in honest confusion.
"What's wrong with pie?"

Bobby had watched the exchange through the window and failed to suppress a small chuckle. "Idjitts." he mumbled before turning his attention back to the dishes.

The Impala was glistened in the sun as it purred smoothly along the deserted highway towards their first case. 'Crazy Circles' was playing softly in the background, but neither of the boys really payed attention to it. About half an hour ago Dean had made the mistake to ask his brother for an update on his slight case of memory-schizophrenia and the conversation was still going with no end in sight. Sam had tried every angle to make his sibling understand, but so far all to no avail.

"I still don't get it." Dean finally stated in an defeated tone. His head was swimming and he longed to return to peaceful silence or maybe some Metallica to drown out his brother's voice. They still had a six hour drive ahead of them and judging by the way things were going it would probably feel like ten.

"I know it sounds stupid, but I'm...I'm not old Sam anymore, or whatever you call him."

Dean's eyes snapped to the side, all thoughts of the road ahead forgotten.

"You what?" His brows were pinched in bewilderment as he struggled with this new declaration. So far Sam had only been hinting at the topic by referring to himself in the third person like just now. Not once had he actually said it out loud.

The younger man rolled his eyes when he noticed the confusion written all over his brother's face.

"When Death put me or my soul or whatever back in place, it all...I don't know. It's like first there were two separate people in here and then they gradually melted together into a new one." he continued unruffled with a shrug of his shoulders.

If Dean hadn't been driving he probably would have strangled him for his sobriety. His hands gripped the steering wheel a little bit tighter while he focused his eyes back on the road.

"That's...That's rich." he finally stated in lack of anything else to say. For about the hundredth time he regretted starting this line of conversation in the first place.

"I don't know how else to explain it, Dean!" Sam exclaimed exasperated with a sweeping gesture. Letting out a puff of air he crossed his arms over his chest and slid a little bit deeper into his seat.

For a few seconds the music was the only thing easing the uncomfortable silence between them until the older hunter spoke up again.

"Then who's calling the shots in that freakish head of yours?"

With a sigh the younger man leaned his forehead against the cool window. His eyes lingered on the trees rushing by while he thought of an answer.

"Neither, both. I don't know. Just...me, I guess."

Dean fidgeted awkwardly in his seat. This whole soul-business was exhausting and way above his paygrade. He wanted it to be over, check it of his list of things not to do and move on. Nevertheless he knew Sam needed to talk about it in order to be able to look forward instead of back and he had promised him to be there to help. Neither of them had said it out loud, but somewhere along the way the both of them had come to a silent agreement to take this as a second chance. An opportunity to start fresh and get things right between them. This time no secrets or lies would be riding along with them in the Impala and Dean wasn't going to strain that newfound trust by swallowing down his worries like he used to.

"Ok, John Nash, I got one simple question for you then and I want a honest answer."

Startled Sam's head turned towards him. His eyes betrayed his astonishment by his brother's sudden participation in the conversation, but underneath also sparkled interest.

"Sure. Shoot."

It had only been a trifle really. Some childish detail, that shouldn't even have bothered him in the first place, considering the circumstances back then. All the same it had always been the small moments with soulless Sam that had really been able to pull the rug out from under his feet. Fundamental assumptions he never would have questioned until they were twisted upside-down and thrown back into his face.

Keeping his eyes glued to the road he finally said:

"If you were really thirsty, like, dying for a soda, would you sell me for a dollar?"

A moment of dumbfounded silence followed before Sam had regained his composure.

"What? No, of course not. Why would you even...?"

"That's all I needed to hear." Dean quickly interrupted with a wave of his hand. A satisfied smile started to light up his face as he leaned back into the leather upholstery.
"All I needed to hear, little brother."


the end


Thank you guys so much for staying with this story till the end! I can't thank you enough for you beautiful reviews and I really hope you enjoyed the ride. Now let's hope the world doesn't end before Friday night or someone at CalvishWankers gets funny ideas again and we should be JUUUUUUST fine ^^

Thx again guys and may the Salt be with you!