Twelve Months Later

Alternate version of 8x01 scene where Sam and Dean first meet, only in this version there is no mention of Sam's life in the past year and no finger pointing, oh, and no blame ;) Sam's POV.

Disclaimer: I own NOTHING!


I stare in awe at the fluidity; at the way Dean goes through the motions, our year apart seeming to have catapulted previously sharp, precision movements to those of perfection. I hiss when the silver blade slices across my skin but see no emotion in my brother's features; his body moving with methodical purpose as he runs through every test designed to establish whether I am friend, or foe.

I'm still in a daze by his presence here, standing in front of me, alive and breathing. Dean, my brother who disappeared in a sea of black fog is within the reach of my fingertips but his concise, calculated motions up my concern about his whereabouts for the past year and make me pause.

I want to tell him to stop; to just take a damn second to talk to me but the words don't come, so intent on his work that he hasn't even really looked at me yet.

I hesitate when he offers the blade to me, the last thing I want to do is confirm something I already know; that Dean is back. There is a glimmer of disappointment in his features as he realizes I have no intention of subjecting him to those tools of the hunter trade so, in true Dean fashion, the jerk takes charge and does it himself.

He doesn't even flinch when he presses the blade across his skin with a violent motion and much deeper than necessary judging by the amount of blood that scurries without abandon across his flesh. His eyes seem dull as they watch the progression of red drip to the floor below; making no effort to staunch the tide. I shiver as his head tilts and he seems fascinated at the way it continues to flow; and that action screams out to me that it is not a good sign. Grabbing a piece of fabric I clamp the cloth against his skin, the contact seeming to snap him out of whatever the hell that was and bringing his gaze to meet mine.

"Thanks Sam," a gruff, raspy voice spits out. "m'good." Unconvinced I reluctantly let him take control of the cloth and watch him tie it off, the bleeding at least beginning to slow.

I wait patiently for it; unsettled by the amount of time that seems to go by, but when the moment finally arrives, man, I had forgotten how good it feels. I feel the sting of tears and close my eyes to contain them, breathing in his scent deeply as I clutch onto him; tightening my grip to remind myself that this is real. It takes me by surprise when Dean breaks the contact and I feel that something more than time has marched on since we last saw each other. My gaze remains on his face as he steps back a few feet and looks me over, a small smile gracing his lips when he silently acknowledges that I'm okay. I scramble to find the right place to start; the right words to express how I feel.

"You're freaking alive!"

Wow, I am Captain Obvious.

"In the flesh, college boy."

"Well?" His eyebrow quirks at that. Really, I need to spell it out? "What the hell happened?"

Pain, grief and darkness; they all flit across his face before he offers me an unconvincing smirk.

"You know, it's funny, Sam. You and me? I'll bet we will be the only two sons of bitches ever in the history of, I don't know, everything, to have ventured both upstairs and downstairs and actually come out alive to tell the tale, right?"

I nod in response, feeling on edge about where this is going.

"Well, I don't want you to be jealous man, but yours truly can actually add Purgatory, of all things, to that already awesome list of 'been there, done that'. Sorry man, forgot to get the t-shirts again."

What? No. That can't… but that's… oh, God.

"Purgatory? Y…you were in purgatory?"

"Yup."

I feel sick. "For how long?" Did my voice just crack?

"Well, let's just say it took me about a week to find you. The rest of the time I was ass high in purgatory sludge dude."

But that would mean…"You were there for an entire year? But.. that's.."

"Double yup."

I shake my head slowly in shock and disbelief at how easily it just rolls matter-of-factly from his tongue. "Jesus, Dean."

"What? You make it sound like a bad thing Sammy."

What the frick? Ridiculous statements anyone? "A bad thing? Um, no, not a bad thing, Dean, more like the worst thing ever!" I definitely do not like the smirk that I see, the shake of his head, or the small laugh I hear.

"Sam… Sam… Sam… ever the drama queen, huh?" Drama? Not funny dude, this shit is not funny.

"Oh, and the puppy dog eyes Sam? Those are soooo twelve months ago, sorry but they don't have the same effect, not anymore. Gonna have to do much, much better than that."

He chuckles at that and I feel the heat drain away from my body. That laugh isn't the one I know, this one is intertwined with craziness and darkness and… Christ Dean, you were stuck, in Purgatory, for a whole fricken year and now you're laughing about it? Bad. Very, very bad.

"Truth be told Sam," he comes closer until I feel his breath on my skin, "it was actually pretty friggin' awesome, dude." Liar. I reach for his shoulder to try and ground him in the reality of the here and now but he's too fast and backs away from my touch. That's new. "Welllllll, maybe not at the beginning. I mean it kinda took a while you know; had to work my way through the initial shock of Cas… when he…" Thank God, at least he wasn't alone. "…when he basically declared we would most likely be ripped to shreds…" Subtle as always Cas.

"Oh, and FYI, that was right before he fluttered his angel ass off somewhere in the night and left me standing there with my dick in my hands," Cas wouldn't do that, would he? "monsters circling me like they were at a freakin' buffet table."

He breaks out a huge smile, the wattage similar to all those years ago when we first went back out on the road together. But this is different. This smile is off and disturbing, and I can't help but feel a pit form in my gut.

"And dude, that was just in the first couple of minutes. Damn it, stupid angel," a slow shake of his head, "idiot actually thought I'd be safer, better off without him. Do you believe that crap? Well, no wonder he high-tailed it without a word, he knew I'd kick his feathery ass if he spouted that shit in my direction."

"So where is he now? Why didn't he come with you?" There it is. Sorrow; deep and unable to be reined in appears like a storm on the surface of his face.

"Umm… not…he," You have got to give me more than that, man. Please, just talk to me. "C..Cas, he uh…" Tell me Dean.

"He didn't make it. Couldn't save him." I swallow hard at that.

"I'm so sorry, Dean," He cuts me off with a shrug of his shoulders.

"S'okay, Sam. I don't know what I was thinking,"

"About what, Dean?" He doesn't look at me and I doubt my words ever reach his ears.

"I mean, they all end up dead anyways, right? Why should Cas have been any different?" Shit. Not liking where this is going. So, Cas didn't make it out but Dean did? And I'm happy about that, ecstatic even, but how did he do it? "Gotta say man, really thought it was finally going to be the end for me. At last." Do I see disappointment on his face?

"But no, of course not, what fun would that be in the cosmic scheme of messing with Dean Winchester, huh?" Reading between the lines here dude and not liking this tale much.

"All in all, for a killer-type-fellow such as myself?" His eyes lock on to mine and I feel their intensity ripple in my own. "Pretty fan-freaken-tastic." Okay, enough riddle bullshit.

"That doesn't make any sense Dean. And you're kind of freaking me out right now."

"Oh, right, sorry about that Sammy. I guess I kinda forgot you haven't seen me for a bit. Hell, you probably thought I was dead." Something like that. Yes. Dead. Gone. Lost.

"Yeah man, I did. You vanished. Had no leads, didn't even know where to look." He nods his head in acceptance of my words.

"That's okay Sam. I thought I was dead too. But you know how it goes man, nothing can ever be that easy right? Can't just lie down and give up, always have to fight the good fight and take out as many of those sons of bitches as possible. So that's what I did. Always. Every minute of every fricken day man. Never stopping, never resting. On the clock 24/7." No wonder he looks like he hasn't slept in… well…

His gaze shifts to look at his hands; turning them over and inspecting them as if he just noticed them for the first time. He doesn't look up and seems to recede into his own thoughts.

"You know, after my miraculous escape, it took me hours to get it off; to rub all the blood off my skin. I was…" Shit. "caked in the stuff. Hell, can you believe the shit was even crusted onto my damn eyelashes? Weird, huh? Layer upon layer of it; the crap soaked right into my fricken skin."

My legs start to betray me, the gravity of Dean's words making my body feel like it weighs a tonne. I pull up a couple of chairs to the table and land heavily, my body reaching the seat just in time. "Dean, I think you should sit down with me and we can talk some more."

"Nah, too stoked to sit plus I think I've bored you enough already with all the blah, blah, blah talk." Are you kidding me? "It's okay Sam, I'm good. Really. Besides, you're here, I'm here… the Winchester brothers are together again. That's all that matters, the rest is history."

Not buying it man. Can't let it slide. He can't seriously expect me to just sweep this purgatory thing under the rug. "C'mon Dean, I think you need to sit." For once, let me in.

"I mean, I got to do what I do best, right?" Okay, so maybe he didn't sit but he's still talking so I will mark that off in the bonus column, even though I don't know what the frick he's trying to say.

"What's that Dean?" My question garners a massive eyeroll and a gust of air to blow out through his nose. I guess I am supposed to know the answer.

"Seriously Sam?" And with that he's taken to pacing around the interior of the room until stopping right in front of me. "Did you forget all about me in the past year?" That's below the belt, dude.

"Hunter? Killer? Ringing any bells? My life has always been about the hunt Sam, you know that. It's the only thing." He moves off again, his hands tightening into fists as he heads towards the window and gazes at the outside world. "We both know how well it turned out when I tried to walk away, how many people had to go through hell because of me, how many… died. I should have known better, I guess I just couldn't see it before. But now? Now it's crystal clear, Sammy."

"God, Dean. That is such bullshit! You deserve…"

He turns on his heel and stares me down, and after all this time it is still intimidating as hell.

"Whoa Sam, just listen alright? Let me finish."

I nod again and study his face closely. The features are the same but there is something wrong with the green of his eyes; it's faded, their shimmer subdued by whatever Purgatory did to them; to him.

"There, in that place? Man, it was a hunter's dream; paradise." This is insane. "I got to slaughter every conceivable monster and not just once or twice… oh no, I got to do it all the damn time!"

I notice the shake then, the trembles that I know he is trying hard to control but still making their way through his body. He reaches into his jacket and pulls out the scariest looking knife I've ever seen and stares at it with what looks like affection. That is messed up.

"You name a fugly, Sam, and it was there. Every single thing we have ever hunted, all together in one place…"

Not good. There is a 'no one is home right now' vibe screaming out from his features, memories being dredged up so fast and furious from the depths that he can't focus on anything else. And then, suddenly, a look of… pride?

"You should have seen it; you should have seen me, Sam. Being there… it.. it purified me; forced me to revert back to instinct alone; stripped away all the bullshit. There was no need for morals or remorse, not when every single thing that came at me was pure evil."

"Being there did that to you, Dean. But that isn't the real you."

"I sliced, diced, chopped…"

"Dean."

"I felt like I belonged there, Sam." I wipe away the tears that start to roll down my face; the conviction in Dean's words ripping me apart.

"You're back Dean and God, you never belonged there. You don't have to fight anymore." The way he looked when he came back from Hell flutters through my mind; the things he was forced to do there to survive nearly cost him his sanity when he came back. What is this going to do to him?

"Yeah, I'm back, Sammy. And I'm fine. But I wonder…"

"What?"

"I wonder… where are their souls now? The ones I carved up…"

"Who the hell cares Dean? Those things were monsters!" Does he even know what the hell he is saying?

"Yeah, I know. Bad guys, I get it. Hey, Sammy? 'If a monster falls in purgatory, does anyone care?'" This time the laughter is mingled with despair, the hollowness of it takes aim and seems to pierce right into my heart. Need to change the topic, fast.

"You look exhausted, man. Have you slept?"

"I can sleep when I'm dead. Or, maybe not, who knows…" Round and round we go. "where the hell I'll end up when that final curtain comes down. Heaven? Hell? Purgatory? Been there, and done all three. Gotta say I ain't too fond of any of them."

"At least sit the hell down Dean, I'm straining my neck here." The sound of the chair across the floor sends another shiver down my spine.

"Yes, ma'am."

My lips curl up at that and I see Dean return the favour. His eyes soften as he looks at me in that moment, as if seeing me for the first time, before his lids close and he runs a shaking hand down his face. His shoulders sag and it feels like he's just about reached his breaking point.

"Hey man, I don't know about you but I could use a drink. Interested?"

A thumbs up and I'm up and back in a flash, two glasses of whiskey now adorning the table. Dean grabs the drink but instead of downing it he seems to talk to it; or more specifically, to me through it.

"Look, I'm not going to lie to you Sam, we've done enough of that and it never works out well."

"Yeah, it's been said." The drink goes down in one gulp and he's up again, back to the window.

"It was a rough ride and yeah, I'm still reeling from it… I guess you probably figured out that much… but please Sam," he turns from the window and I can see the glistening in his eyes as he looks imploringly at me, one single tear losing its hold to cascade slowly down his weary face, but he doesn't turn away. "you cannot push me on this, alright? You… you need to give me some time and you have to try and understand… it changed me, that place." Well no shit.

"Yeah, alright Dean, I promise not to push but you need to promise me something." He's still staring at me and I swallow involuntarily. "Don't keep it bottled up inside, we both know that never ends well, either."

I watch him stroll back to his chair and ease himself back onto the seat. He reaches over, pours some amber liquid into each glass and gives me another smirk, only this one is the kind that lifts my heart.

"It's been said. That's a deal, Sam. Now, sit back and keep the bottle handy because I'm gonna tell you about how I got out... but I'll be honest man, I don't know how you're going to feel about it…"

The nervousness in his voice puts me a bit on edge but I nod just the same; not willing to jeopardize this milestone moment, as Dean willingly shares something he clearly wishes he didn't have to. After everything we've been through together he should know I will always be here for him; that he can tell me anything.

"Just take it slow man."

He tips back another shot and wraps his hands around the glass; his breaths deep and long as he prepares himself.

"Well Sammy, umm… it kinda starts off like a bad joke, you know? So... a hunter, an angel and a vampire named Benny meet up in Purgatory…"


End. Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed! :)