A/N: Just a short tag to 6.13, nothing monumental, just something to wake the muse up. It's not as schmoopy as it could've been, but meh. It's still got some smarm.

Warnings: Not-so-nice hell imagery, language, angst, smarm. The usual.

Spoilers: 6.13 directly, general season 6.

Cement Cracks

Sam's always been fascinated with the human mind. He's always admired that something so small and delicate has the power to exceed boundaries that sometimes are unimaginable. The brain has the ability to overcome the impossible, to push the body to the limits, to dull pain just by tuning it out. So when Sam suddenly finds himself consumed in flames with his skin peeling and crackling, and his nostrils burning with the heat, he's not surprised that it takes him a moment to scream. The all consuming agony is near instantaneous but when the body is injured to the point of being salvageable, it takes the mind a second to catch up. It's called shock, his memory supplies. But when his brain does catch up and he realizes that he's not only on fire, but that he's being incinerated, he screams until his voice gives, until there's nothing left in his throat but fire and smoke. His nerves flare and split until they're dead, and even after that, Sam feels the pain. He thinks that's what hell is: never ending pain, knowing that it's never ending, and not being able to do anything about it. But that's not how he knows he's in hell. He knows he's burning in hell when he hears a voice whisper in his ear, somehow still audible over the flames and his own screaming, "Was it worth it, Sam? Were they all worth this?"

The voice curls around him like smoke, invading and cold. Lucifer. That's when the fear breaks for a brief second, and in the moment of lucidity he remembers. Cemetery. Impala. Dean. And now he's in the cage, paying for what he unleashed, and repaying his brother for all the times Dean sacrificed himself for Sam's life. He's petrified but he'd never take it back if it meant saving Dean, and the rest of humanity.

So in his mind, Sam says, "Yes." Out loud, he screams again because the fire has been re-ignited, and his mind is over the shock.

Sam wakes up coughing, choking on smoke, fire, and screams. He curls into himself, trying to shield his body from something that's no longer real. In the background, over the roar of the flames that have taken up residency in his mind, he hears Dean's voice. It's muted like a mirage, but he clings to it as he tucks himself up tighter.

"C'mon, Sammy, it's ok. It's ok. I've got you; it's going to be ok. God damnit, I damn well told you that we should've left this hunt alone. Sammy, please…"

Sam's eyes open. He's curled on his side on the floor. When he breathes, he can see dust and dirt move on the floorboards. Dean's behind him; he can feel his big brother's knees pressing against his back, and one hand's in his hair, and the other on his shoulder.

"Sammy? Sam, talk to me."

Sam inhales sharply and then coughs as he sucks in some of the dirt from the floor. Dean sounds scared and Sam knows why.

Oh God, oh God, Oh god, the wall. The wall's breaking. He didn't know what that meant until now, but Dean did. Dean knew.

He breathes again, this time it's a clean breath but it's short, because his throat is closing up with tears.

"Dean?"

The sigh of relief from Dean is loud and obvious; Sam can almost feel it as if it's his own relief.

"Jesus, Sammy. You ok?" Dean pulls on Sam's shoulder.

Sam rolls over on to his back and stares up at his sibling. Dean's eyes are wide but moving fast, darting all over trying to get a read on Sam's emotions and well being. He looks like he just had the scare of his life.

"God, you were just gone, man. The lights were on but no one was home. You scared the shit outta me," Dean rubs a hand over his face and pulls himself together, "Are you ok? Sam, say something."

"Can we just…" Sam swallows down the lump that's formed high in his throat, "Will you just stay down here for a minute? Please?"

Dean swallows and Sam swears he sees his eyes shine, but he nods. "Sure, Sammy."

Deans shifts his weight and settles more comfortably on the floor. Then he rests his hand on Sam's sternum, letting it rise and fall as Sam breathes. He closes his eyes and concentrates on the weight of Dean's hand on his chest, trying to draw as much power and comfort from it as possible.

The wall's cracking; falling apart brick by brick, and Sam's terrified. He's just as terrified as he was when he said "yes" to Lucifer. And he doesn't know what's going to happen; if he's going to die or if he's going to live, or if he's going to become locked in his mind, re-living memories of fire over and over again. He doesn't know anything.

As if he knows Sam is silently freaking out, Dean starts talking. "It's going to be ok, Sam. Alright? I promise. We'll just have to be careful. If you start getting any Back to the Future vibes we'll just keep driving," Dean says, his voice low and his hand still firmly and Sam's chest. "Don't scratch the wall, Sammy, please. I'm begging you, man, don't scratch the wall." The desperation is there, just under the surface of Dean's composure, but Sam hears it all the same. He always does.

Sam lifts his arm and drops his hand on top of Dean's and squeezes, a silent promise. They sit like that until Dean's legs are asleep, and Sam feels like he can breathe again without tasting smoke in the back of his throat.