Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Get no moolah. Just having a little fun.

A/N: Just a little one shot, set after 6.11 and the resouling. Will Show pick up from there? Will we be three weeks down the road? I don't know. But I picked up from Death slamming back into our Sammy. I claim pure indulgence and too much time on my hands. Unbeta'd. Blame me.

Locked and Loaded

Dean opened his eyes.

Unfortunately, darkness was his only friend. His hand splayed away from his body, spanned against the rock that he was sitting on. He shuffled around it, could easily find the definition of the edge, his fingertips falling dangerously over it. He leaned over slightly, tried to see how far down the ground was, if there was a ground, but he was surrounded by pitch black. All he could make out was the gray light from above, coming from the small opening where he'd fallen... tripped. Dean blinked. Okay, lightly tumbled.

He smacked his head against the rock behind him. Glad he didn't plummet to his death but had no idea how the hell he was going to get out of this one. He wondered how far away from Bobby's place he had wandered. He'd been angry – no, that was a lie – he'd been hurt and had set off from the house with pent up energy. It didn't feel like he'd walked that far but his strides had been long and his mind had been elsewhere.

On Sam, of course. Mad now that he could admit that and, really, he wasn't mad at Sam. Just angry with himself.

It was, indeed, Dean's fault. He was the only reason he was sitting on this ledge, stuck in a narrow cavern. With his phone no longer nestled in his jacket pocket.

"Shit," Dean muttered. And it echoed back to him, teasing him right next to his ear.

It was going to be a bit of a wait until morning and a rescue. Dean leaned back against the rock and shut his eyes. The back of his head yelped like a kicked dog and Dean cussed himself out for being such a big ass baby and wished he hadn't stormed out earlier that night...

Sam had spent well over a year without any sleep and now, resouled, he was catching up on his beauty sleep. It was an immediate reaction, maybe shock at first. Sam's soul shoved back into his body by Death, of all things, while he screamed and pleaded and fought it. The result had been sleep. Sam's eyes closed and even as Death disappeared and Dean and Bobby stood staring down at his brother, Sam looked peaceful.

It was enough to take their breath away. Bobby's shoulder leaned against Dean's and Dean had to put his hand out to grasp the wall.

Then the shifts began. Four hours each, waiting for Sam to wake up, while the other cooked or slept. At least that's how it began. Then Bobby's shifts became interrupted at the two-hour mark. Dean fidgety, nervous. Drinking gallons of coffee just so he could be there. Didn't know if he was doing it for himself or for Sam. But had a feeling he was doing it for both of them. Desperately wanting to be the first to see his brother's eyes. See the recognition. It was all he'd been dreaming about for months.

So. It was to his great disappointment that when Sam finally awoke after 47 hours of straight sleep, that Dean missed it. Bobby had came in around 8:30 that evening and given him shit about being awake for a straight 24 hours. He roughly nudged him out of the chair, told him he'd come up if anything happened. Assured him he wouldn't let Sam get out of bed, that he'd make sure that Dean was there. And Dean had dragged his tired ass up the stairs knowing that Bobby was sincere.

But then? Then, Dean was standing in the living room, quiet in the dark, watching Bobby hugging Sam close, telling him there were no worries and that all was going to be okay and how good it was to have him back again.

He'd missed it. Slept right through and there was Bobby… Dean shook his head. Was he jealous? This was stupid. But, still, he grabbed a jacket and walked out into the night. Clear his thoughts for a moment because really this had nothing to do with Bobby. This had to do with he and Sam and Dean suddenly wasn't sure he was ready for this. It was all too much and a little fresh air would make all the difference.

Now his ass was sitting on a large, cold rock jutting out from whatever South Dakota hole Dean had fallen into and he was, for lack of a better word, stuck. He heard the start of his ring tone, muffled from below, and realized that he had heard it before. It must've been what had woken him up. He looked down and listened. Sounded like it was several feet away. Reached down to see if he could grab it. Caught handfuls of air.

It seemed like hours passed by as he sat there and waited. Yelled from time to time but his voice was deafening in the small space. Heard his phone kick on a few more times and then – there it was – a light at the beginning of the tunnel.

"Dean?" Sam's voice. He wanted to stand up, jump up and down, but he settled with a grin spread across his face.

"Oh, thank God!" He could see shadows and light and Sam's bangs catch on a branch as he looked in as far as he could go. Then a light shined bright through the small opening and everything illuminated. Dean could see now that he hadn't fallen too far down. A rope or maybe even a belt and he could be hauled up. He glanced down. And down and down and down.

Patted the rock. "Good rock."

"You okay?"

Dean nodded. Knew Sam couldn't see it. "Yeah," he rasped out.

There was a moment of silence, where Dean couldn't tell from the acoustics of the cave if he was breathing or if Sam was. Everything overlapped and it was hard to tell when a sound began and when it ended. The music they made, was beautiful.

"I think," Sam started, "maybe I should go back and get Bobby."

Bobby? Dean blinked, narrowed his eyes up to the entrance. "What? No! Sam, don't you leave me down here!"

There was scuffling happening above, Sam's body maneuvering to and from the opening. And, finally, an anxious, "Dean?"

"Yeah?" Eyes, ears, nose, soul focused on his brother.

"Is there... anything down there with you?" The light shined down again, scanned the rock walls.

Dean swallowed. It hit him like a brick, made his stomach turn to stone. He was lodged, in the Earth, had fallen down a hole, swallowed up in darkness, and was waiting for his brother to come and rescue him. Death had said Sam wouldn't remember, that there would be a wall of protection to block the memories, but Dean also knew he'd take some things with him. Like the initial fall into the pit. The fear of the unknown. The feel of the heat as the air sucked away. That horrible feeling of suffocation. Isolation.

Dean cleared his throat. "No, Sam. It's just me. I… do you have a rope or something? I don't think I need much." Tested his legs. They felt wobbly, all noodle like. He pressed the majority of his weight into his backside and started the slow slide up the rock wall. Felt dizzy, but kept his eyes up.

"Here." Something fell into the opening. It looked like it was made out of cloth and Dean reached up as far as his arms could stretch, snagged hold of the end of it. Was rewarded by a tugging motion up the jagged ridge. He could hear Sam's grunts as his brother pulled and could hear a distinct ripping sound as the fabric scraped against the cavern.

Dean tried to see, but it wasn't dark enough. Suddenly, he felt something give and his body fell a notch, back towards the pitch. Dean kept his eyes upwards, "Sam!" he called. He felt his body stop moving. "I think it's ripping!"

And it was in a blink of an eye: The fabric Dean held on to gave way. He felt his body immediately begin to fall, his arms stretched high, his fingers spreading in reaction to the drop, and Sam's gigantic hand plunging into the shadow and grabbing hold at the last second.

Dean dangled there for a few seconds, his body twisting and turning dangerously in the confined space. His shoulder hit a jutted root, his head smacked into a bulging rock. He felt his weight pull him down. Could feel the connection with Sam slide and shift. Fingers slipping millimeters from where they were before.

Sam's grip tightened. "Don't you let go!" he yelled down.

Dean felt his body calming mid-air. Through the quick moment of terror, he could see it, Sam's eyes, glistening back to him, the only light in the tunnel. And it screamed at him everything he hadn't seen for over a year: I'm here for you.

Dean returned the grip. Hand over hand and Sam started to pull back. Slowly, gently, up and up he pulled until Dean's body was squeezed back through the small opening and he felt able to take in a real breath.

The ground was hard but it accepted his full weight as he collapsed on it.

"You stupid, stupid son of a bitch," Sam was cursing at him. But his hands were dancing over Dean's body. "Did you break anything?"

"No," Dean responded but it came out as only a breath. He didn't think Sam heard him as his hands hovered over the lower part of Dean's body. The night sky was quietly exiting beyond the clouds, the burnt orange of morning on the horizon. Sam was silhouetted against the back drop, making him look animated. Not real.

"Your ankle is okay?"

Dean nodded.

"And your knee? It's not sprained or…" Kept moving up. "Your hip? Is it bruised?"

Dean shook his head.

"Any cuts? Anything on your chest? Any gashes on your arms?"

Sam crawled the length of Dean's body through the dirt, hands just inches away from Dean's heart. He could feel the lub-dub under his skin, hitting his ribcage. And it was filling.

"Can you sit up?" Sam leaned back on his knees, offered his hand once again to Dean.

It was like a reflex, a nod and Dean reached his own hand up, clasped palm to palm and let Sam help him to a sitting position, ass planted firmly on the dirt floor. Sam checked Dean's head. And relaxed next to him, face forward, hip to hip.

"You have a gash on the back of your head." He did? Sam gestured to his own head. "But it doesn't look too deep. It's not bleeding anymore."

Dean reached back. Touched something that felt sore and fleshy. His fingers came back bloody, but not covered. He glanced over at his brother. Sam was breathing heavily, his chest still heaving, his eyes wild in the pale light. Death had said Sam wouldn't remember. He wouldn't remember being stuck under the Earth in a place no one could imagine existed. The heat and the pain and the screaming for a brother that would never come. Sam wouldn't remember being carved and gutted and made whole again. He wouldn't remember being frightened and alone and being caged like an animal. He wouldn't remember changing into something he said he'd never be.

Sam was the only person in the world that could ever understand what Dean had seen. What Dean had been through. And because of him, Sam wouldn't remember it. And Dean would never have the chance to really talk about his own horror. Possibly, some day, get through it because it was haunting. And the only person in the world that could ever understand it, was sitting right next to him and Dean had to keep it quiet.

Sam took a deep breath and held it for a few heartbeats. Dean watched him as his brother looked over at him and met his eyes. Locked and loaded. The sudden recognition was fast and Dean had to bite his lip. Sam's face cracked a little and Dean felt his eyes burn at what he saw playing back to him at high speed: fear, reprieve, realization, and ultimately, love.

Dean grabbed Sam and jerked him forward, moppy head falling onto his shoulder, breath hot against his neck. Sam's hands fumbling around his back, Dean's jacket bunched in his fists as he held on.

"Don't you let go," Dean whispered, his voice flapping like wings in the wind, uncontrolled and high. The tears slipped out, surprised him. His own hands expertly wrapped around Sam's cold back, t-shirt rolling up under his touch. Dean let out nervous breath. Sam must've used his coat to pull Dean up. That's what had torn and had just about sank Dean back into the black.

Sam shivered in his hold. His brother could feel the cold and he could feel the warmth. And none of it had to do with the temperature. He was a soul again, with a body.

"We gotta get you back to Bobby's." Dean announced, but brought his hand up to lay on the back of Sam's head, held there for a few seconds before his own head slightly bobbed and he pulled Sam out of his embrace. Wiped his eyes with the cuff of his jacket and stood on both legs, pulled Sam up with ease.

Out in the distance, he could hear their names being called. Bobby was on the prowl. They'd better get a move on, they were a threesome, after all. Dean nudged Sam forward. His brother's face was wet and his eyes were shiny and Dean couldn't remember the last time he'd seen Sam cry.

"I'm sorry," Sam blubbered as they started their trek back. Said it and it was everything to Dean. Opened that door again. "For the things I did to you, I'm sorry."

Dean didn't know what Sam and Bobby had already talked about or what Sam could recall. He didn't know if Sam had fresh recollection of the events that had transpired or if he just had a feeling of them. But Dean could remember Hell. And he could remember all the things that had happened since Sam returned from his Hell. Didn't know which experience was worse, some days. Knew what he had sacrificed – what he had given up – for Sam. Blinked slow and sober.

"Dad said that I have to save you."

"Save me from what?"

"He just said that I had to save you and nothing else mattered. And that if I couldn't, I'd…"

"You'd what, Dean?"

"I'd have to kill you. He said I might have to kill you, Sammy."

Felt like maybe this was it. Maybe he'd succeeded. Maybe he'd saved Sam and Sam had saved him. But the fight wasn't over. It never would be.

Sam's cheeks were covered in muddy trails of dirt mixed with sweat and tears. He looked good, though. Hands balled into fists, trembling from the cold but alive and found and Sam. Dean wondered who was actually pulled out of a cave just a few minutes before. He took his jacket off and threw it over his brother's shoulders. Let his arm remain draped around him. Sam didn't seem to mind. Walked clumsily together, over a hill. The silence healing, somehow.

"It's okay, Sammy." Dean bumped into him. "I'm not mad atcha."

Sam's neck craned to the left. Not ready to believe Dean yet. But not arguing it, either. Just wanting to be, Dean thought. And the moment was more than overdue.

"Oh, thank God."

Dean looked up. Saw Bobby standing in a grassy meadow, dead ahead, shot gun clutched in his hands, the morning sun sparkling the grassy dew. Bobby caught sight of the boys, shoulders relaxed and fell. Dean heard Sam release a sigh, his hands unclenched.

Dean walked next to his brother. Met up with their old friend. Accepted a drink of water. And found that no matter how much he tried, he couldn't stop smiling.

A/N: Total fantasy. Sue me.