Sam's Promise

Summary: Uneasy about what effects taking on the trials might have on him, Sam is unexpectedly reminded of a long ago made promise that he's never been able to keep…until now.

Warnings/Spoilers: Let all beware who read further! Yes, there be spoilers ahead so if you haven't seen the newest episode avoid this even though I always try to keep my stuff from being too spoiler heavy there will be some.

Tags: Tagged to 08x14: Trial and Error.

Disclaimer: I don't own the boys or anything to do with the show, the characters, etc. This is written for the fun of it and is meant to be enjoyed for it as well.

Author Note: It's been a loooong time since I've done a tag so bear with me. This little one happens after the boys are back on the road at the end of the last episode: 08x14-Trial and Error.


A clock chiming in the distance as midnight hit. The feelings of loss, despair, and failure all striking as hard as each chime seemed to. Then the sounds of howls, of claws clashing on a wood floor before those were replaced by the sickening sound of those same damn claws and teeth tearing into flesh, drawing blood and screams so fresh that he knew he'd never forget either. He'd never forget the night he listened to Hellhounds rip his brother to shreds.

Memories, sounds chased Sam Winchester as he fought to change the memory. To perhaps stop those events but even as his heart began pounding in his chest, he knew how the dream would end. He just wasn't expecting when the dream that he hadn't had in years suddenly twisted to just a few hours ago and to the scene in the barn in which Sam, looking to prevent a repeat of Dean being a Hellhound's chew toy, shoved his knife up into the exposed midsection of the still nearly invisible mutt from hell and destroyed it.

Fulfilling the first task that would eventually, if their luck held, close the gates of Hell forever but as Sam struggled against the heart pounding nightmare that was making his stomach pitch something else dawned on him and sent him sitting straight up from the nightmare with a startled sound that was like a shotgun going off in the near silent Impala.


"Huh! Whoa! Sammy?!" Dean Winchester had been driving with the radio turned down once he realized his brother had finally fallen to sleep slouched against the door.

The elder Winchester had been thinking more of what had been happening in the last few months for them but mostly what had gone on that night. He'd been content with the silence and hadn't expected anything to come out of it since normally he had some sign before Sam woke up but this nightmare and his younger brother's sudden shout and upright movement took him so off-guard that he barely had time to twist the wheel to veer them off the deserted road much less make a grab to keep his now very hyper, half-asleep brother in the car once Sam decided he wanted out.

"Hey! Sammy! Wait a second!" he hated using the stern big brother tone since that almost always had a negative effect on Sam but he also didn't want his brother diving from the still moving Impala. "Sam!

Whether it was the tone in Dean's voice that finally got through to Sam or the strength of the fingers that had grabbed onto his arm, something made him struggle to breath and calm down but the moment he closed his eyes to try to figure out what was happening he once again saw his brother bleeding tonight and felt the thick black like ooze that bled out of the Hellhound once he'd killed it and again knew he needed out of the Impala before Dean bitched about needing to clean the interior.

Feeling the car finally slow to a stop, Sam didn't wait. His shaking fingers grabbed the handle, shoved out the door and gave up keeping lunch or dinner in.

"Damn it, Sam. I thought you said you felt fine after doing that damn spell," Dean snapped, hurrying out of his car to get to the other side to see his younger brother on both knees, now trying to breath. "Sammy…"

"…I did it."

The words were so soft that Dean had to concentrate to be sure that his brother had spoken at all. Figuring that the night's events had finally caught up with the kid, he was a little less concerned by Sam's behavior even though a bit of Dean suspected that by taking on these tasks his little brother was not going to be unaffected.

"Yeah, I know you did, Sammy," he sighed, still not happy by the fact that his original plan of taking this all on by himself had been tossed out. "You completed the first trial…which now has you puking your guts up and…"

"I killed a hellhound," again Sam's voice was quiet as if he wasn't even hearing his brother behind him but as Dean knelt next to him with a bottle of water his hand darted out to grab Dean's wrist in a tight grip and it was the grip that told the elder hunter that this might be a bit more than he first thought. "I killed it."

Since that scene was still embedded in his own mind, Dean only nodded again but felt Sam trying to grip his wrist in a way that he hadn't in years…not since the year that Dean's deal was coming due and slowly something began to form in the pit of Dean's stomach. "Sammy…what're you talking about?" he asked slowly. "You okay?"

"I promised that I'd kill it one day and I never could cause I couldn't see a hellhound but I did it. I finally kill it and finally kept my promise," Sam slumped back against the Impala, unaware of how he seemed to be shaking or of how worried his brother seemed to be getting as he kept talking.

The fact that he'd killed a hound of hell to complete the first of the three trials wasn't huge in Sam's mind right then. Something else was front and center and that was all the younger man was seeing.

"Huh," settling back so he was rocking on his heels, Dean's gaze settled on Sam's still pale face as he took this in and had to admit he was almost lost.

It had been a long time since Sam had looked this lost or this open since Dean fully admitted it had only been just recently that a lot of the strain between them had started leveling off. He also admitted that it had been a helluva long time since he'd had to play big brother and that was the feeling that was creeping in.

"Sammy, who'd you promise that to?" he finally asked, not sure why his brother would make such a promise or to whom, Dean felt his blood go cold the second huge hazel eyes, wet with unknown and unshed tears shot up to meet his.

"You, Dean," Sam replied softly, fingers running restlessly through his hair and seeming unaware when a few strands fell back into his face. "I promised you that I'd kill the damn hellhound that killed you but…I never could so I…didn't tell you I promised that before I buried you cause that would've been another disappointment and…"

As Sam rambled, which was another long forgotten habit the younger Winchester had once had, Dean was struggling to not only keep his own face straight despite the fact that he knew his mouth could've dropped but also to not just grab and hold onto Sam.

Realizing what Sam was saying, that his brother wasn't reacting to killing one of Crowley's hellhounds and facing who knew what before it ended but was instead reacting to what must have been a nightmare of the night Dean died and that he was finally able to keep a promise that Dean had no clue his brother had even made.

The last months before his deal had come due were ones Dean tried to avoid thinking about and the years after were certainly ones he didn't always dwell on especially since he and Sam had been having serious issues in the last few.

Bobby had told Dean about the hours and days after his death so he knew that Sam's reactions were on par to what Dean had expected. He just hadn't been expecting his little brother to decide to promise to kill a damn hellhound.

Of course, the more rational side of Dean…not that he was always certain where that side came from, could have spoken up to relieve the building chick-flick moment by reminding Sam that it had actually been more than one hellhound that had sent Dean to Hell that night five years ago.

He also could've pointed out that Sam hadn't actually seen the damn mutts that night, even though Dean had clearly seen them, so he couldn't say that this hellhound had been one of those. Though on that score, Dean had a small feeling that it might've been one of them.

Finally, he figured he could've said that since the promise was made after Dean was dead and buried that it was null and Sam was off the hook so killing this one was no biggie except for the whole shutting the door to Hell thing.

Dean knew he could've said all those things and come across his own anti chick flick moment slightly more jaded than usual self and probably get away with just seeing a little hurt in Sam's eyes as he shrugged off what was clearly very important to his brother.

He knew he could have said and done those things yet as he opened his mouth, Dean blew out a breath. "C'mere, Sammy," he sighed, shifting so he could sit beside his brother and did something he hadn't openly down with meaning in…longer than even he could remember which was something else that would bother Dean once he thought about it.

Knowing Sam and knowing the stages his emotions often went through, Dean was certain he took his now tired but still overly emotionally brother off-guard the second he reached out to pull the unresisting hunter closer for a hug that he held the second he felt it returned hesitantly at first then grinned when Sam grabbed on like he used to when neither had the strain they'd been dealing with.

"I really did kill it, Dean," Sam whispered, well aware of his older brother's dislike of emotional outbursts but right then he didn't care.

From the second he'd realized he'd finally kept the promise he'd made the day he'd buried his brother he just wanted to focus on that and not anything that might come next. Surprised that Dean had made the move he had, he started to shift back when he felt the grip shift so that Dean could look down with an all too familiar smirk.

"Sammy, you always keep your promises," Dean shifted back so he was leaning against the Impala, breaking the hug but staying closer than he normally would these days as he took a careful breath so not to pull the wound he had received from the damn mutt. "Not sure I like that you made one and didn't tell me but I'd never be disappointed in you for that cause of any us…you always kept your word. That's how I know you'll keep this latest one."

Suddenly tired from waking up too fast and the over emotional state he'd found himself in upon waking, Sam had to blink while thinking what he'd promised recently but was coming up blank; which was not something he relished in admitting to his brother. "Umm, what I promise?"

"Besides to wash and wax the Impala for a year and to help me take Kevin and Garth to the first strip club we find after all this is over?" shifting a look next to him, Dean's green eyes suddenly grew more serious as he laid a hand out flat with the palm up. "To show me this so-called light at the end of the tunnel once you complete these tasks cause I'll tell you one thing right now, little brother…there had better be a bright glowing light since I will be right there to believe in you. No matter what. Deal?"

Already emotional from recent events, hearing the gruff tone that Dean only used when he was close to showing more feeling than he liked, Sam blinked a few times and was glad the setting sun was shielding his face now since he felt the wetness on his cheeks.

Earlier he'd given Dean the speech that he planned for them both to survive closing the gates of Hell and only asked that his big brother believed in him as much as Sam had always believed in Dean. He hadn't really thought Dean had been listening since a lot of times things go past his brother, or so Sam thought. Now he wasn't so sure. Now he was only certain on of thing…

"I never promised to wash and wax the Impala, Dean," he coughed, smiling at his brother's laugh and grasped the hand that was held out to him even as he felt Dean's other hand clasp the back of his neck much like he would years ago. "Thanks, Dean. For believing in me, for letting me do this."

"That's what big brothers are for, Sammy," Dean returned, standing easily despite the aching wound and waiting until he knew Sam was back in the Impala to start for the driver's side to add softly to himself. "I believe in you, Sam and I'll do whatever I have to make sure there is that light at the end of this tunnel if that's what you want cause that's one promise I'll keep too."

The End

A/N: I hope you enjoyed it. Been awhile since I've done an actual tag so I'm getting back in the swing of brotherly moments. Got a couple others percolating so we'll see. Thanks for reading!