Summary: Season 8 – Sam glanced at the Latin scrawled on the back of the napkin he held, remembering how he had hurriedly jotted down the words a few nights ago in the dimly lit backroom of a local bar. Remembering how his heart had hammered in his chest at the possibility of having finally found the right person with the right spell to bring his brother back.

Disclaimer: Not mine.

Warnings: Spoilers for season eight and usual language.

A/N: An AU version of the events leading up to Sam finding Dean at Rufus's cabin in 8x01. And yay...100th story!


I cut my hand, wait for it to work. But I just couldn't bring him back. No, I just couldn't bring him back. ~ Joe Purdy


Sam glanced at the Latin scrawled on the back of the napkin he held, remembering how he had hurriedly jotted down the words a few nights ago in the dimly lit backroom of a local bar.

Remembering how he had held his phone between his shoulder and chin as he had copied word-for-word what a friend of a friend of Bobby's had told him might work to bring Dean back.

Remembering how his heart had hammered in his chest at the possibility of having finally – finally – found the right person with the right spell.

After all, it had been a year.

Sam swallowed, always overwhelmed when he realized how long it had been.

Because sometimes a year didn't seem long enough; sometimes it felt like Dean had just vanished yesterday and Sam still had time to find him before it was too late.

But most days, a year felt like the eternity it was when half of you was missing.

When you still booked motel rooms with double beds and ordered food for two people.

When you would think of something you wanted to say...a question to ask...a joke to tell...and then you would remember you were alone.

A year was an indescribably long time when you were miserable every day of your life – every fucking day.

Sam sighed harshly – hoping today would finally mark the last day of his misery – and refocused on the wrinkled napkin; holding it close to his face as he silently recited the Latin; allowing himself one last time to practice before he started the spell.

Because he had to get this right.

This had to work.

Dean was counting on him.

...assuming Dean was even still alive.

Sam clenched his jaw against the thought; refusing – even after a year – to believe his brother was dead.

Because Dean would know Sam was looking for him and would fight to stay alive until Sam could figure this out.

Sam knew it because he knew his brother.

But what Sam didn't know was how much longer he could take this.

Because nothing – none of the spells, none of the rituals – had worked prior to tonight.

And each failure was a stab through his heart; a reminder that if Dean never came back, that if Dean died...it was because Sam wasn't smart enough to save him.

But...

Maybe tonight was the night.

A little brother could hope...

Sam sighed, stuffing the napkin back in the pocket of his jeans and preparing to begin the spell.

Because after a year, what did he have to lose?

...especially since he had already lost everything.

Sam nodded. "Alright. Here we go..." he announced quietly and crouched in the center of the chalk outline he had drawn on the floor; having lit the candles and mixed the other ingredients earlier.

All that was left was to add his blood and say the Latin.

It was that simple.

And the effect was supposed to be instant.

Dean could be with him in the next blink.

Sam twitched a smile at the thought, wondering if this spell would really work; if he would be lucky enough to fall asleep tonight with his brother beside him – Dean back in the bed closest to the door where he belonged.

The possibility was so close it hurt.

Sam briefly closed his eyes. "Please work..."

Please.

Please.

Please.

Sam sighed, opening his eyes and reaching for his knife; his expression pinched in pain as he sliced his hand; his left palm as scarred from repeated cutting over the past year as it was from when he had fell on that shard of glass a few years ago.

Sam swallowed, remembering how he had repeatedly pressed on that scar to ward off memories of Lucifer...and how now he repeatedly reopened it with self-inflicted wounds; spilling his blood for one worthless spell after another.

But not tonight.

This spell was going to work.

It had to.

It had to.

Sam nodded his determination and watched his blood instantly rise to stain his skin and mark the path of the sharp blade as he drew it across his freshly healed flesh.

If wishes were blood, he would be drained dry by now.

Because all Sam wished for was his brother.

All he wanted was for Dean to come back.

It was his undeniable obsession.

It was his all-consuming fixation.

To get Dean back was all that mattered.

...which was why, even a year later, Sam was still trying to save his brother.

It was what Dean would do.

And Sam didn't know what else to do.

So, he did this.

Sam swallowed, placing his knife on the floor and squeezing his hand into a fist; his blood trickling through his fingers and dripping into the small bowl to create a paste with the dry ingredients he had mixed earlier.

There was a beat of silence as Sam collected his thoughts, visualizing the words on the back of the napkin still tucked in the pocket of his jeans.

"Okay..." Sam sighed, preparing to begin the last part of the spell – the Latin.

He opened his mouth at the same time another voice spoke.

"You know what I like about you?"

The question echoed in the expanse of the empty warehouse.

And even before Sam turned, he knew exactly who he would see.

Because he would recognize that accent anywhere...even if it had been a year since he had heard it.

"I like your tenacity," Crowley continued as Sam stood and faced him; the demon's tone almost genuine as he stared down at Sam from the platform overlooking the main floor of the abandoned warehouse. "Your brother's been gone for over a year now..."

As if Sam didn't know; as if Sam hadn't counted every agonizing second since Dean had disappeared.

"And yet here you are..." Crowley announced, vaguely waving his hand toward Sam. "...trying to bring Dean back with yet another new spell." He paused. "Very admirable." He paused again. "And stupid." He shrugged. "Which I guess is par for the course if you're a Winchester..."

Sam held Crowley's gaze but said nothing; his grip tight around the knife he had instantly grabbed from the floor at the sound of the demon's voice behind him.

There was silence.

Crowley smiled. "Hi-ya, Sam..." he belatedly greeted. "Long time, no see. And all that jazz..."

Sam didn't respond.

Crowley chuckled. "Still the strong silent type, I see..." he commented, his smile widening when Sam glared at him. "Tell me...did you miss me, like I missed you?"

Sam shook his head. "How did you find me?"

Crowley snorted at the ridiculous question. "Please..." he drawled. "Just because I don't write and don't call doesn't mean I don't know where you are."

The idea was disturbing...but Sam didn't doubt it.

"I always know," Crowley assured and nodded, impressed with his own self-importance.

"Fine. Whatever," Sam snapped, not having time for Crowley's mind games or smug bullshit. "What do you want?"

"To love and be loved," Crowley quipped and then twitched a smile as Sam's glare intensified.

"Crowley..." Sam growled; his fingers twitching as the self-inflicted gash across his left palm tingled with burning pain while his blood continued to drip on the floor.

Crowley smiled, unfazed by the warning in Sam's tone. "Tell me...does your girlfriend know that you're dabbling in the dark side in abandoned warehouses late at night?"

Sam snorted at the indirect mention of Amelia. "She's not what you think."

"No," Crowley countered, his expression arrogantly knowing; like he was enjoying his own inside joke. "She's not what you think."

Sam arched an eyebrow at the cryptic statement. "Whatever," he dismissed once again. "She's not my girlfriend. We're just roommates," he further defended, vaguely wondering why he was explaining himself to a demon.

"Ah, yes. Just roommates..." Crowley agreed and then paused. "In the Biblical sense, that is."

Sam glared heatedly but didn't respond, not interested in continuing to discuss the nature of his and Amelia's relationship...especially not with the demon staring down at him.

Crowley chuckled and scanned the intricate patterned shape Sam had drawn on the floor along with the precise placement of candles. "Summoning something, are we?"

Sam said nothing.

Because what he was doing was none of Crowley's fucking business.

Crowley arched an eyebrow at Sam's defiant silence, his gaze flickering to the blood dripping from the young hunter's hand. "Or are we just getting more elaborate with our cutting rituals?"

Sam clenched his jaw, refusing Crowley's bait. "What do you want?" he demanded. "I haven't seen you in a year and now – "

" – ta-da!" Crowley interrupted, waving his hands in fanfare as if to celebrate his sudden arrival. "Pretty exciting, yes?"

"No," Sam snapped, shifting his position as he continued to stand in the circle. "Why are you here, Crowley?"

The demon tilted his head thoughtfully. "Is this an existential or a philosophical question?"

"Crowley..." Sam growled, readjusting his grip on the knife he still held even as his blood continued to drip from his left palm.

Crowley chuckled. "Sam. Relax, you should..." he advised, like he was freakin' Yoda.

"Dammit, Crowley!" Sam yelled, frustrated and pissed that the demon was stalling him from performing the spell...and possibly seeing his brother again. "What the fuck do you want?"

Crowley cringed dramatically at Sam's uncharacteristic swearing. "Such language," he admonished.

Sam glared, vaguely wondering if he could still kill demons with his mind if he tried hard enough.

"No," Crowley answered bluntly, as if he was reading Sam's thoughts. "You can't," he informed. "And you wouldn't want to," he added. "Because I bring you tidings of great joy..."

Sam scowled. "What?"

"What?" Crowley echoed defensively. "Angels say it. Why can't I?"

Sam snorted. "I've never heard an angel say that."

"Huh," Crowley mused and shook his head. "Guess I'm confusing the Bible with reality again."

Sam frowned and sighed harshly. "Crowley..."

"Fine, fine..." the demon soothed, rolling his eyes at Sam's offended expression. "You should really consider having the stick surgically removed from your ass."

Sam said nothing, his blood dripping faster as he fisted his left hand.

Crowley chuckled. "Alright, listen up," he advised, instantly sobering. "Because I'm only going to say this once..."

Sam blinked expectantly.

Crowley paused for effect.

"What?" Sam prompted, his tone as irritated as he felt.

"Your brother's topside," Crowley announced simply.

Three words that changed everything.

Sam blinked again.

"See?" Crowley asked proudly. "Tidings of great joy..."

Sam shook his head; his heart wanting to believe...but his instincts warning against trusting a demon.

They had been there, done that too many times.

"I don't believe you," Sam replied, even as hope flickered within his chest.

Because what if it was true?

Crowley shrugged. "Believe me or don't believe me," he responded dryly. "But I guess the only way you're going to know for sure is if you pack up this little sideshow..." He waved toward the chalk outline and candles on the floor. "...and head over the mountains and through the woods to that dreadful cabin."

Sam frowned. "Rufus's cabin?"

"Is there another cabin you frequent?" Crowley countered.

Sam said nothing.

"That's what I thought," Crowley confirmed smugly.

Sam glared, still suspicious. "If Dean is back, why tell me? Why not just let me keep – "

" – crying on your pillow every night?" Crowley interrupted and smiled at Sam's bitchface. "Because the two of you are so cute together," the demon informed. "Plus, I miss my matching set of Winchesters."

Sam snorted. "I bet..." he drawled.

Because he knew that he and Dean were nothing but colossal pains in the demon's ass.

So what the hell was Crowley up to?

Crowley smiled. "Guess you'll have to wait and see..." he commented and then disappeared as quickly as he had arrived.

Sam blinked, turning a tight circle as he scanned the interior of the warehouse.

But Crowley was gone.

And Sam had a decision to make – finish the spell...or pack his gear and head to Rufus's cabin.

A few seconds passed.

Sam sighed harshly, making his choice.

Because these days, seeing was believing.

And Sam desperately wanted to see Dean and to believe his brother was back.


FIN