A/N: This is my 7.23 contribution, ya'll. I hope you enjoy it. I'm hoping to get a lot of writing done over the summer. On top of finishing my WIP's (I know, I know. Don't break out the pitch forks yet) and writing a request from T.V programs rule (SO sorry it's taking so long, hun), I have a long list of plots I need to start working through. So hopefully I'll be around more. My muse tends to like summer a lot.

Warnings: Brief and non-permanent character death, TW for suicidal themes, language, bro mos.

Disclaimer: Most definitely do not own anything.


Disinter

Disinter: verb. To take out of the grave or tomb. See also: disinterment.


Sometime after the world doesn't end, Dean and Cas sneak out of a back door in Purgatory and land in the corroded remains of Dick Roman Enterprises.

The war-torn pair examines the lab they had disappeared from: it's still covered in black goo, stools and tables are misplaced, and some even turned over completely; remains of glass windows and equipment crunch under their feet. To their left are the charred remains of what was once testing and production area of the lab. It looks like someone –Sam, most likely – enthusiastically torched it. Dean reaches over to flip on the light switch and is unsurprised to find that it doesn't work. The only light source is the sun filtering in through the bare window panes.

"We've been gone a while," Dean says, his voice rough as if it hasn't been used in a few days.

"Nearly a year," Cas answers and doesn't explain how he knows. Dean doesn't expect him to.

Dean's shocked but oddly thankful. Purgatory is a lot like hell in the sense that it's hard to tell time. For all he'd known they could've been gone for decades. Dean's heart skips a beat in realized panic. They'd be gone almost a year. Sam's been alone all that time.

"We've gotta find Sam," Dean starts marching his way through the rubble of the lab. The need to find his brother is as strong as the need to breathe.

Cas frowns, his eyebrows furrowing, "Dean." Dean stops and watches as Cas angles his head as if listening to something. When he looks at Dean again, there's obvious distress on his face. "Sam's gone."

"What? What does that mean, 'Sam's gone?'" And Dean's starting to feel a little hysterical because he knows what it means and he can't. He can't face the idea of Sam being dead. Not when Dean just found his way back home.

Then – Eleven Months ago.

Sam dumps any and all chemicals that look flammable until the place is soaked. Then he flicks his lighter, tosses it, and runs like hell. The room catches immediately. On his way out he encounters the decapitated leviathans that Crowley's army of demons killed. He grabs a trash bag off a janitor's cart and bags all the heads, ensuring that none of them will be putting themselves back together any time soon. Then he pushes the Impala off the shattered Sucrocorp sign, gets in, and drives.

He doesn't make it a mile before he breaks down.

The Impala is barely off the road before he's pushing the driver's side door open and tumbling out, retching into the harsh gravel under his palms. The air coming into his lungs is thin and it's barely expanding in his chest. All he can think is that Dean's gone and he doesn't know where, and he doesn't know how, and everyone he's ever cared about is gone. Sam's leaning back against the front panel of the Impala and his eyes are dancing with black spots. The metal is hot against his back and the heat is riding the line between uncomfortable and unbearable. And all Sam can think about is that they finally have the car back, their home, and Dean's gone.

He must've passed out at some point because he opens his eyes and he's parallel to the ground. Some of his hair is soaking in the puddle of vomit and there are pebbles embedded in his cheek, which is also tacky with half-dried tears. He sits up with a grimace but finds that he isn't as bothered as he should be. He gets up, knowing there isn't much he can do except get back in the car and drive.

-0-

He can't really stand to be anywhere but in the Impala right now. The idea of checking into a motel, or scouting for an abandoned house, or pulling up to one of their safe houses without Dean is enough to make his stomach roll and heart clench. He pulls over on a secluded road next to the Kankakee River. He uses one of the hundred complimentary motel shampoos they have stashed in the trunk to wash the vomit out of his hair. Then he takes the trash bag full of leviathan heads, weighs it down with some stones, and tosses it as far as he can into the river.

The sun's starting to go down so Sam pulls some of the blankets from the trunk and wraps himself up in the back seat of the car. He lets the smell of leather, gun oil, and Dean to engulf him as he settles in for a long, sleepless night.

The next day he takes the Impala into a shop to get the window fixed (because Bobby's dead and Dean's gone and Sam never learned how to fix that stuff. Why didn't he ever learn?) The mechanic wants Sam to come back in an hour or so but Sam's not leaving the Impala with a stranger. Forget the fact that the trunk is an arsenal, the car is…was, Dean's pride and joy and Sam is gonna make damned sure that it's treated like a gem. Dean would kill him if he didn't.

So Sam stands off to the side while the mechanic fixes the window. He doesn't miss the relief on the guy's face when he finally drives away.

-0-

It doesn't take him long to figure it out, where Dean must've disappeared to.

Once some of the initial panic and such passed the answer was pretty clear. Dick disappeared and took Cas and Dean with him. A dead or dying Leviathan would only go one place: Purgatory.

After that realization settles in, Sam goes and finds the cheapest whiskey he can and drinks it, not really caring if he wakes up in the morning or not.

-0-

He does wake up, with a hangover that may end up killing him anyways.

-0-

Sam spends the next 72 hours digging through Bobby's photocopied books, trying to dig up all the information he can on ways to open Purgatory. He lives on black coffee and gas station sandwiches, doesn't shower, and sleeps in three hour intervals. By the end of it he has a whole lot of shoddy, half formed plans and a pipe dream of getting his brother back. He has the manuscript the dragons used to open Purgatory the first time but Sam has no idea which ritual it is and he isn't sure if he can translate it. Plus there's the issue of virgin sacrifices. He has the ritual Crowley and Cas used but he needs another eclipse, and he doesn't think Death will be as accommodating a second time.

He has one more plan but it's also based on a lot of maybes and what-ifs. It's also the best-worst plan he's got.

-0-

Being a Winchester, Sam has spent a lot of time thinking about what happens after death. It's hard not to when you're facing your own mortality all the time. He used to think about it a lot when he was a teenager and continually watching spirits deteriorate in flames. He always wondered where they went and if they went to the same places people did. He still doesn't really have an answer but he kinda hopes they do. Sam always thought he'd go to heaven, long before Azazel, demon blood, and Lucifer. Sometimes he still believes he can because the idea of going to back to hell is too much to handle. But there's another option, an option he never really considered until recently. Purgatory is the place monsters go when they die. Sam isn't exactly human, never has been. Maybe if he dies as something a little less than human he'll go to Purgatory. It's insane, Sam isn't so far gone that he can't see that, but it's the only plan he has. There's no way to open Purgatory's gates, no way to get Dean and Cas back, no answer other than this one. So if he goes down in one last stupid, Winchester plan then at least he'll know he tried. At least he won't be on earth alone anymore.

-0-

It's surprisingly hard to find a hunt to go kamikaze on. Spirits tend to have specific targets, the moon cycle isn't right for a werewolf, wendigos, demons, and vampires like to play with their food, and black dogs and chupacabras aren't common. If Sam had it his way he'd just swallow a bullet from the Colt, but he doesn't want to take the risk of skipping Purgatory all together and going to hell.

He finally ends up catching wind of some animal attacks that fit the M.O. of a pack of adlets perfectly.

-0-

There are some things he needs to take care of first. He drops the Impala off in a storage space in Iowa. He pulls her into the garage, takes out all of his weapons and leaves them in the trunk. Then he reclines against the hood, staying there until the warmth of the engine has faded.

He's summoned demons so many times he has the ritual memorized. He doesn't know what that says about his life but he can't help but be grateful for it. It's a low level demon, full of ego and snark, and he's dead in under a minute. Sam bottles the blood flowing out of its chest, feeling the dormant pull in his gut awaken at the sight of the thick syrup. He hates it, wants to run as far away as he can, but knows he can't. He has a job to do, much like when he was preparing to take on Lucifer. He tells himself this and ignores a small whisper in the back of his head saying it's not the same. It's not the same at all.

He drives to Colorado in a stolen Ford Durrango, with nothing in his arsenal but a two liter bottle full of blood.

-0-

Sam takes the blood with him up the mountain trail and drinks it on the way, hoping that the scent will entice the adlets to come and get him. He does his best not to think about the thick blood sliding down his throat, the power churning in his stomach, and the beasts that may be hunting him. It's harder than he thought to blatantly ignore his survival instincts and stomp down the hunter inside him. It's almost as hard as ignoring the absence of his brother.

He finishes the two liter just as he hears the first rustle of leaves and soft grunt of an animal. Paralyzing fear wars with the urge to fight as he catches the first glance of their red eyes. His fingers itch for his gun, the gun he purposefully left behind. Something shifts to his right and he flinches, knowing that he's seconds away from being mauled.

It happens in what feels like stop motion. He feels the fear, feels the way his feet try to run, just as he sees the adlet lunge at him out of the corner of his eyes. It hits him with the force and weight of a boulder. When he hits the ground he feels his left shoulder pop out of place. His yell of pain is caught in his chest, compressed under the adlet's giant paws. His ribs are caving under the pressure, seconds away from cracking and snapping. The beast's claws are already ripping into him; he can feel the deep burn and sting of their venom as his blood flows out of him like water. The last thing he sees before passing out is a second adelt approaching, snarling and snapping it's jaws as it closes in on its prey.

It's over in seconds.

-0-

It's six in the morning and the phone's ringing. Sheriff Mills isn't one to care about stuff like unexpected morning wake-up calls (she's a cop, it comes with the job description) but it's Sunday, and it's supposed to be her day off.

She curses and fumbles for her cell, "Yeah?"

"Jody Mills?"

She frowns, recognizing the tone. It's the "We're medical personnel and we have bad news" tone. It's one she's heard often.

"Yeah…"

"My name's Helen, I'm with Colorado Springs Hospital."

"…Ok," Jody answers, mentally running through anyone she knows in Colorado. There's no one.

"We have someone…a John Doe. You were the only one in his phone who answered or didn't have a disconnected number."

Jody's heart jumps into her throat and she fights to breathe. There are only two people she knows who that can possibly be.

"I can be there in a few hours."

-0-

It's Sam. Jody can still tell despite the beard and the huge claw marks splitting the skin from his temple, down his cheek, and into his throat.

She pushes her way out of the morgue and leans against the wall in the hallway. Her stomach is trying to rebel, to expel the grief and panic that's taken over her body. All she can think of as she tries to calm down is, where's Dean?

Now

The grave is next to their mom's. It has a simple, small granite stone with:

Sam Winchester
May 2, 1983 – May 28, 2012
Brother. Hero.

May 28th. Only ten days after they ganked Dick Roman and disappeared into Purgatory.

"Jesus, Sammy," Dean chokes as he stares at his little brother's headstone. He wonders what happened, if it was a hunt or an accident. He wonders who found him and who paid for the stone, and who picked the gravesite.

He wonders if Sam did it and quickly kills the idea.

"Can you…" Dean breathes deeply, controls the tightening in his throat, "Can you bring him back?"

Cas is staring at the stone as well, a pensive and tired looking expression is on his face. It reminds Dean of before, when they were all running on fumes and had no hope of saving the world. Purgatory changed the angel. He's a little more like the soldier he used to be, not anywhere near the hippy-pacifist who was obsessed with insects nearly a year ago. A lot had happened since then and as much as that version of Cas drove Dean crazy, he finds himself missing it sometimes.

"Yes," Cas finally says.

Dean breathes. It's loud and deep, almost as if he hadn't been breathing the whole time and had finally allowed himself to start again.

"We'll have to come back tonight with shovels," Dean's voice isn't anywhere near steady, "I'm not lettin' him wake up down there."

Because Dean did it once, woke up confused and panicked in a pine box that wasn't buried as deep as the one Sam's in, and was made out of thinner wood. Sam won't be able to break out. And Dean'll be damned if he sits around while Sam bloodies his hands trying to climb his way out of his own grave.

-0-

It's a few hours later and the sun's only been down an hour or two. Dean and Cas are walking back to Sam's grave, shovels in hand.

"I can do this alone," It isn't the first time Cas has offered.

Dean simply shakes his head and starts digging.

Digging a grave is time consuming, Dean should know, but this time it felt like his shovel hit the top of the casket within minutes. He doesn't know if it's because Cas' angel strength sped up the process, or if Dean had been checked out the entire time, hiding away somewhere in his head where he didn't have to think about the fact that he was digging up his baby brother's body. Maybe it was a bit of both.

When he realizes they've reached the coffin Dean freezes. He stares at the dirt covered oak, noticing that the top right corner of the casket is smashed and dented in. The smell of stale death is pertinent in the six foot hole they've dug. Dean's stomach rolls in warning as his brain processes the scent and associates it with Sam's body.

"Dean."

Castiel is crouched on the edge of the grave, staring at him with sympathy and concern. Dean's face is three shades paler than normal and his eyes are wide.

"Dean," He tries again, "I'll open it."

Dean doesn't argue this time, just climbs out of the grave with shaky limbs and turns his back when Cas reaches down to wrench the casket door open.

He hears the creak of metal hinges and the cracking of wood as it splinters. Then there's a moment of stillness and Dean doesn't move, doesn't even breathe. When he hears the tell-tale gasp of resurrection, he feels like his knees could give out. He whirls around just in time to see Cas haul a still coughing Sam out of his own six-foot hole. Sam's dressed in a basic black suit which still putrid with the scent of death, and covered in dirt. Dean hugs him without a second thought. Sam's still weak and confused and Dean doesn't think he's doing much better himself, so they stumble to the ground, with Dean's arms wrapped around his brother's shuddering chest. After a few moments Sam's breathing evens out and his arms hesitantly come up to hold Dean in return.

"…Dean?" The word is rough, near incomprehensible, but Dean knows it all the same.

Dean holds on tighter, "Yeah, Sammy."

If Sam's chest hitches again and if Dean's eyes burn well, neither of them mentions it.