He opens his eyes; the stench surrounding him and the fact that he is handcuffed to the bed tells him one thing and one thing alone; he is in the Panic Room – again…
He pulls, ineffectually, at the cuffs and his back chafes against the hard cot. There is an IV sticking out of his hand and it hurts, hurts like a bitch. Stupid tears fill his eyes, hot and sticky, and he wonders what he did this time…
"Sam? Sammy?" His brother and close by the sounds of him, a strong hand on his wrist, tight and warm, a gentle breath by his ear, voice soft and familiar, "hey – Sammy."
He rolls his head and it hurts; rubs his hair across the pillow because the back of his skull itches like a bitch. Dean is watching him, eyes narrowed, mouth set.
"Was it demon blood?" he whispers, gravely and rough, as if he has been shouting, "what did I do?"
"Don't you remember?" Dean's hand tightens on his flesh and his wrist stings, the bite of nail on skin, "what do you remember?"
"Falling," and he does remember the odd sensation of plunging downwards, the sear of heat, the sudden darkness but beyond that his mind is blank, an odd murky space where his memories should be, flashes of before, of pints of 'goat juice', a rotting face, laughter and blood on his hands, Dean's face battered and bleeding, Castiel bursting open like a balloon, Bobby's neck snapping. "I fell," he mumbles, lamely.
"That was over a year ago," Dean says; he feels sick at that, nausea sudden and hot, bile rising until all he can do is lean over the side of the cot and bring up everything inside of him. "Aww Sammy," Dean wipes his face, rubs his hair, unfastens the cuffs, "you ok?"
He nods chafing his wrists, wincing as the blood flow returns. He is ok, he feels tired, fuzzy headed but nothing else hurts and, apart from the itching in his head, he feels almost normal.
"Drink this," Dean gives him water, cool and like honey on his parched tongue, "you have been – um – sick – but I guess you are ok now."
Ok – he turns to face his brother, mouth curving into a smile, the feeling of it odd on his lips. It has been a year and yet it seems like only yesterday since he plunged into the pit, seems like only yesterday he beat his brother to a pulp, that he killed the angel and the man he thought of as father.
"They are alive Sam," Dean can read minds now he thinks and his smile grows almost painfully wide, "both of them," he bends and lifts Sam up so that they are face to face; arms go around his shoulders and he drops into the hug, holding fast and tight, tears spilling now over his hectic skin, his brother there and whole, his friends in one piece.
He lets his brother hug him and his brain starts to formulate, to work. He should remember hell, should remember torture, heat, pain. Instead he remembers nothing, the occasional flash of colour, a woman in a tight skirt smirking at him, the smell of incense, a baby crying, a dark haired girl with tattoos, his brother with blood smeared around his lips, Dean hitting him over and over, cages, demons and Meg.
"Do you need anything?" Dean sounds desperate and Sam knows – he knows – that Dean did something. Winchesters never let sleeping dogs lie, Winchesters never let the dead stay dead, Winchesters make deals, it is their way.
He doesn't scratch his itch nor does he challenge Dean; right now is not the time and all he wants is to get out of the panic room and into the light.
"I need a bath," he says and his brother holds him tighter, shaking with it, their foreheads pressed together as they share each others breaths, "I need a bath…"