A/N: If you happen to be finding this story for the first time, welcome to my mixed up adventure! If it seems familiar, it probably is - right down to the title...although I have cleaned up some things I missed the first go-round.

You see, I have a confession to make: The first three chapters were originally posted under an alternate account because I was worried it might offend some of my readers. After much thought, I've decided to move it into my main account for a number of reasons - the biggest being I'm proud of this story and I regret hiding it.

We're all adults, right? (Well, if you're reading M rated stories, you should be!) We occasionally make mistakes and, when we're extremely lucky, the people who love us call us on our bullshit - whether or not they realize it - and demand we be true to ourselves. Many, many thanks to my friends Michi and Corinne for sparking my imagination and encouraging this little plot bunny. They're both beautiful souls and I am incredibly blessed to have them in my life...

Warning: This one is going to be racier than I normally post and will, at times, be sexually explicit bordering on PWP (I blame PerinciousBlood). If you are bothered by more graphic adult content, you may want to turn back now and skip this one.

Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural.

Part I: Left Behind

Chapter 1: Abandoned

New Harmony, IN

Saturday May 2, 2008, 1:43 AM

As if Sam Winchester needed another reason to hate his birthday, Dean's death only further compounded his feelings. Losing his big brother - the man who had raised and taken care of him in the place of their often absent father - was earth-shattering, though expected. If he hadn't loved Dean so much, he'd have murdered him with his bare hands for making a deal with a crossroads demon. A deal that sent him deep into the bowels of Hell.

Sam hits his knees next to Dean's limp body. Though he knows in his heart his brother is gone, he still feels for a pulse. Still looks down into lifeless green eyes that once sparkled with light and laughter despite everything they'd seen.

Hauling Dean into his arms, Sam cradles him against his shoulder. Pain slices through him, sharp as the hellhound's talons that had torn at Dean's body. Tears trickling over his cheeks, he vows, "I'll fix this, Dean. I swear I'll find a way to get you back."

Bobby enters the room, the sight damn near breaking his heart. With every ounce of courage he can muster, he pushes his hat back and clears his throat. "Uh, Sam, I know this is tough, but we gotta get Dean outta here. Salt n' burn 'im before somethin' decides to wear 'im as a meat suit."

"No," Sam answers forcefully. Laying Dean's body back on the floor, he closes his brother's eyes so as not to lose determination gazing at the vacant stare. He wipes his eyes and stands up. "We're not burning him."

"Come again?" Bobby asks sternly. "Are you outta your mind, son? He's a hunter. He should have a hunter's funeral."

Sam's jaw is fixed tightly. He balls his fists to keep from pummeling the old man in front of him. "He'll need a body when he comes back."

"Comes back? What the hell are you plannin' to do, Sam?" Bobby asks, his brow furrowing.

"I'll find a way, Bobby," Sam utters as he heads down the hallway to the stairs. He needs sheets. Something to wrap him in. Dean would never forgive him if he got blood on the Impala's seats.

Bobby is hot on his heels. He follows him into the master bedroom and watches as Sam strips the bed, taking the linens with him as he makes his way back downstairs. He yells at the boy, "Dammit, Sam! This isn't what Dean woulda wanted."

Stubbornly, Sam throws the sheets on the floor and squares off with Bobby. "What about me, huh? What about what I want?" he asks, his voice straining under the weight of the emotion roiling inside him. "I didn't ask for this, Bobby. I didn't ask him to take my place."

"He couldn't live without you, but he figured you could have a life without him," Bobby says. "A life outside of hunting."

Breaking down as he crouches at Dean's side, Sam stares up at Bobby. He doesn't bother to be strong or mask the pain. His voice nearly childlike, fresh tears falling, he asks, "Why does he get to choose? Why does he get to decide I can live without my brother?"

Watching Dean get ripped apart, his intestines spilling over the hardwood floor was its own form of torture. Arguing with Bobby and managing to get Dean's body into the car left him even more emotionally raw. But what happened next? That truly took the cake.

Where exactly does one get a coffin at 1 am on a Monday morning in a town that's been inhabited by demons for God knows how long? It's not like you can walk into Home Depot or Lowe's and get plywood. So, if you're Sam Winchester and Bobby Singer, you do the only thing you can do: you steal one.

It wasn't right that he had to do this. Dean deserved better than a pauper's funeral in the middle of Nowhere, Indiana. But that was what he was getting.

Sam picks the lock on the door of Johnson & Sons Funeral Home and heads not for the show room, but toward the back where the bodies are prepped. The sickening smell of formaldehyde fills his nostrils and he steals himself for the worst.

Seeing what he came for, he closes his eyes in relief before looking around for a way to get it out. The pine box is sturdy in appearance. It's long enough that he, himself, could get into it, though so narrow it would barely accommodate the breadth of Dean's shoulders. It wasn't like they had much choice. It would have to do. There was no way he and Bobby could manage anything bigger - nicer - no matter what Dean deserved.

Half carrying, half dragging the coffin, he makes his way to the door. With Bobby's help, he loads it into the back of an old pick-up in the parking lot and they quickly hot wire the vehicle. He's making his way back to the Impala - back to his brother's body, safely nestled in the backseat of his beloved car - when Bobby calls him back.

"I reckon this is the best spot," he says, pointing to an open field on the map.

Sam nods. "I'll follow you there."

Hiss body aches from digging the grave, but it's nothing compared to the emptiness in his chest where his heart used to be. He cracks his neck and goes back to the task at hand.

The hole is about 7ft long and 4ft wide. He struggles with how deep to make it. It needs to be deep enough to cover the smells from animals, but not so deep Dean couldn't be reached quickly if necessary.

"Take a break, Sam," Bobby demands. "Let me help you."

"I'll do it, Bobby," Sam fights back. He continues to work the shovel using only the light of the full moon to see. "Nobody said you had to stay. He's my responsibility."

"Hurtin' yourself ain't gonna bring your idjit brother back, son," Bobby says, shifting his cap back as he watches Sam.

A far off look in his eye, the younger man answers, "I'll get him back, Bobby. I don't know how, but I'll get him back."

"Look, Sam," he says shaking his head as he tries to pry the shovel from Sam. "Why don't you come back with me? Take a breather and we'll see what we can figure out?"

Straightening, Sam jerks the tool back. "I can't just sit around," he says. "I need to do something. He's my brother. The only family I had left!"

Unwilling to accept no for an answer, Bobby wrests the shovel from Sam's grip. "Family's more than blood, Sam. You boys are like kin to me. I'll be damned if I let you go doin' something stupid. Get the coffin. Let's get this over with and get the hell outta here."

Sam flinches at the word "hell". There's nothing casual about it anymore. Not now. Not when his beloved brother is trapped in the pit.

Muscles stiff and protesting, adrenaline beginning to leave him, he does as Bobby asks and drags the stolen pine box to the hole. Next, he uses a can of spray paint from the trunk to draw protective symbols on the wood's surface and surrounds the coffin with a ring of salt.

Finally, he goes back to the Impala. Lovingly unwrapping Dean's body, he presses his lips to his brother's forehead before carrying him to the makeshift grave. A silent promise runs through his mind as he lays Dean to rest.

He will find a way. He has to.

There's no other choice.

- - - - - - - - - - Sam - & - Jo - - - - - - - - - -

Seven towns, one state, an abandoned truck and 3/4 of a bottle of hunter's helper later, Sam is pacing the motel room like a caged animal. His grief is palpable. It hangs in the room like a coming storm, making the air heavy.

"Lay down before you fall down," Bobby barks. He hates this. Hates watching one of his boys cope with the loss of the other. Hates that it has to be this way and wishes he could trade places with Dean to end Sam's suffering.

Sam's shoulders slump. He feels his heart thundering in his chest and panics. The thought of closing his eyes brings to mind the graphic carnage of his brother's demise, but he knows the old hunter is right.

He can't drive. Can't do anything. Not like this. Not with alcohol clouding his judgment and the threat of tears welling in his eyes. He drops like a rag doll into the empty chair across from Bobby. "What am I gonna do without him?"

Bobby pours them each another shot. Lifting his glass, he encourages Sam to do the same. "To Dean. One of the best damn hunters I've ever known."

A sad smile crosses Sam's features as he clinks his glass against Bobby's. "To Dean."