Title: Survivor's Guilt

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: Up until 6x11 "Appointment in Samarra"

None of the people, places or things mentioned in this fic belongs to me.

: When Sam wakes up, Dean doesn't expect things to happen the way they do. It's just so much more than he could've hoped for.

Author's Note: Just a little idea that popped into my head a while ago. Enjoy :D

Survivor's Guilt

Sam doesn't wake up right away.

Dean doesn't know exactly why he thought Sam would wake up immediately, but it really doesn't matter now.

Sam had stopped screaming and fallen back onto the bed like a frayed shirt crumpling to a heap on the floor.

He had wanted to lunge forward; wrap arms tight around him but Death's perilous presence beside his brother forced him to do what was best even if his inner self roared in protest.

The Horseman patted Sam's chest for good measure before tilting his long, drawn face towards Dean.

"Next time, Dean, don't find me. I will find you."

As Death disappeared, Dean had no doubt Death would.

And so Sam slept on and on and on until the days grew longer than twenty four hours and the dark night stretched into never ending territory.

Castiel had come down from time to time to check on proceedings and heal the superficial wounds on his body, affirming with a heavy heart that yes indeed Sam's soul was back and yes indeed it was shattered almost beyond recognition.

Dean had known that to be the case, had heard it so many times, but Castiel's confirmation combined with that shaking look on his face made it so much worse.

It was the moment they attached an IV to the motionless man that it really did sink in that this might be Sam's future; lying comatose on a bed in the panic room, being kept moderately alive by his big brother's stubbornness.

It was really no wonder Dean had sank back into old habits of long hours separated by sips of whiskey or scotch or vodka or whatever booze he could get his hands on at that point.

It seemed neverending... and then it actually did end.

There was no screaming when it happened. No loud thuds or frantic struggles from the man who had escaped Hell.

One morning, when he spent a little longer than usual trying to decide whether or not to make his morning coffee an Irish one, he returned downstairs and everything changed.

Sam's still lying there, of course. To anyone else, this would look the same sight as yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. But the slight tilt of his ankles closer to the centre of the bed, the way his shirt rolled upwards just a little to show off the tiniest shimmer of skin and the way his hair curved against the pillow like he'd just turned his head.

To Dean who had memorised every crease of Sam's clothing as he lay on that cot for close to a straight month, it really couldn't look more obvious if the man on the bed had been a completely different person to Sam.

Although, he was indeed that.

"Sam..." His voice croaked out. He knew that later he was gonna blame that croak on the cold he was getting over, not the emotion welling in his chest, but at that moment he didn't care because he just saw Sam flinch and his head tilt a little.

Sam was awake but he wasn't looking at him.

Oh God, what did that mean? Was the wall crumbling already? Was it the memories of the past year, the guilt of them, catching up? What? What was it?

Rather than stand there and talk to his own clueless mind, he asked what was perhaps the most stupid question of his life;

"You okay there Sammy? You - You good?"

And Sam nodded, slowly and painfully, and Dean took a step forward, slowly and painfully.

"Can you take these cuffs off... please?" The voice was as low and raspy as Dean had expected from his extended nap after a fit of screaming violent enough to tear his voice box to shreds.

"Y-Yeah... sure. Just gimme a sec."

The response was coherent, not exactly writing redrum on the walls with that one, so Dean pulled the master key out of his pocket, wondering for a moment how it wasn't worn to an unusable degree thanks to his constant lamenting over it, before he unlocked Sam's cuffs one by one.

He never once looked at Sam's face as he did so but when Sam finally managed to push himself up with a groan and stretch the murderous kinks out of his back and creaky limbs; he could finally see Sam's face.

No dimples popped out, no toothy grin or shiny eyes. That was just wishful thinking on his part, he supposed. But the dark shade to Sam's expression, frown and crooked gaze, worried him a little too much.

Dean grabbed the water from the table, a little warm but nobody will complain, poured a glass of it and held it out to Sam who downed it like a dying man in the Sahara.

"How're you feeling now, Sam?" He's not calling him Sammy, not just yet. He's been to hurt by carelessly throwing that name out to a heartless bastard with floppy hair. So he waits.

"I'm fine. Good." Sam finally whispers after finishing his water and fiddling with the glass for a whole 3½ minutes. "Are... you?"

Dean smiled a little warmly at that. "Yeah... yeah I'm fine."

Sam nods and his lips twitch, either to smile or speak, not even Sam's sure completely of. He swallows and blinks and looks around the room and shakes the glass before he just stops. And he speaks.

"I'm sorry, Dean."

Now there's a tricky statement to understand. Sorry, for jumping into the pit? Sorry, for standing by and watching him getting turned into a freakin' vampire - cure or no? Sorry, for sleeping so long and making him worry for so long? Sorry - sorry for what?

"Sorry for what, Sam?"

And Sam gives a humourless breath of a laugh that is so Sam-like Dean feels like just covering him in bubble wrap and never letting him go.

"For – this. The fact that I've done it again..."

Okay, that has really thrown him for a loop. "Done what again?"

"Don't... you don't have to play dumb. Why else would I be – here?"


"I drank a lot. In Detroit."

And something snaps in place. Panic Room, cuffs, worried big brother –

"The demon blood...?"

"Of course. Big battle with Lucifer. Couple of gallons of the stuff. I don't blame you for putting me in here."

Though clearly you blame yourself, his mind whispers with almost hysteric happiness until it realises Sam is guilty and in pain but still -

Sam thinks he's only here for another round of demon blood detox. Not for nearly murdering his beloved Uncle Bobby. No no no – demon blood. He drank demon blood before Lucifer. And that's all he remembers – wait a second...

"What's the last thing you remember?"

Sam tilts his head a moment, running his fingers through his hair in that oh so Sam way that just destroys Dean with happiness.

"Um... I remember Detroit and the demon blood... and talking to Lucifer in that building- saying yes to him – and then... I dunno, it's a little fluffy from then on..."

... it is true! It's so true! No Hell, no Soulless memories – nothing but his Sam right there.

"Dean, what about Lucifer? I mean, if I'm still here then...?"

Dean sits down on the bed beside him with a slowness that makes Sam shudder a little in apprehension until suddenly Dean's lunging at him so fast it knocks him over and pins his aching body to the cot.

That makes Sam even more nervous but he can't deny how happy he is to be hugged so warmly – it feels like forever since that last happened. Could have been forever. Maybe they're actually all dead-

He pats Dean's back. Solid. Real, he thinks.

"It's over, Sammy. It's over." Dean whispers into his chest and if Dean's eyes weren't so damn tired he would've sobbed all over his blue flannel shirt. When he pulls back, he smiles genuinely, a little embarrassed by his enthusiasm as he pulls Sam back to earth with him.

"Lucifer's gone, Sammy. He's gone and you're still here. You beat him. Damnit you did good, kid." The rambling is also a little embarrassing but he feels that the past few years have earned him some rambling rights.

Sam looks like he's also about to sob, well, to Dean he does, and all that emotion under the surface. God, he just wants to hug Sam again.

"No more apocalypse?" He whispers like a child, unable to fathom how he went from "Yes" straight to "you beat him."

Dean smiles broadly and laughter lines curl everywhere around his face. "No more apocalypse. No more Lucifer, no more Michael – we are both alive Sam. The earth is alive."

And there's those dimples popping out as Sam buries his face in his hands and laughs breathlessly. It's done, over, finito.

"That's... God, you've no idea how happy that makes me..."

"I can imagine."

"Well, yeah, of course you can." His laugh is definitely wet with tears there. "God, I thought when I woke up that if I went outside it'd be all...

"Burnt cars and broken windows...and Jill Valentine marching down the street with a shotgun?"

"Kind of, yeah. But it's okay - We're all still here!"

Sam moves to get up but suddenly groans and sits back down on the cot and big brother Dean comes out of retirement to kneel by his brother's side.

"What's wrong? Sammy, it's okay! I'm here I'm here! What's wrong?"

Those words feel a little like déjà vu to Sam but he shakes his head since Dean's said them a million times to him before. "Nah it's just... must've been a rough one this time. The detox. Was it rough?"

Oh right. Dean bit his lip and simply nodded.

"I am sorry about that, you know."

"Of course Sammy, nothing to apologise for. Not when you saved the whole damn world, little brother. '' He sounds so proud. He is proud.

"Then no wonder everything's all funny..."

"Funny? Funny how?"

"Like, my body is really aching and my throat too, plus my head's all – I dunno, cottony I guess?"

Dean twitched a little. "Just from the detox, Sammy. Best not to dwell on it, trust me."

"Fine, fine. Can you help me up?"

And Dean smiles as he gets up and pulls Sam up with him, pulling Sam's arm over his shoulder and wrapping his own around the taller man's waist.

The apologies for falling to the demon blood would continue long into the rest of the week and so would the guilty looks and then the awe that one second the apocalypse was in full swing and in the next it was sunny with little chance of Armageddon.

But that was just Sam. And that was more than enough for Dean.

"Sure thing, Sammy. Anything for you, bro."