I know everyone has done this story idea to death, but I wanted to try my own. This also doesn't really take into account the promo, though that was awesome.

Also, wincest, though nothing graphic.

Warnings: general insanity, self-harm, suicidal thoughts

.

Three days after Jody finds out about the explosion at Sucrocorp, Sam's head breaks and she gets at call at two in the morning.

Even before he says anything, she knows that Dean's gone. Not dead, necessarily, but definitely gone. "Where are you?" she asks, already half out of bed, rifling through her top drawer for a pair of jeans.

"You don't have to," he answers, but she hears the please in it anyway.

"No arguing," she tells him. "Where are you?"

There's a moment of silence on the other end. Then he says, "Some place called Wilder Inn in Minnesota. I don't know the town, sorry. Room one-sixteen."

It's called Walnut Grove, she knows. Her mom read her all the Little House books when she was kid. "I'm coming, Sam," she says, grabbing her car keys from her bedside table. She's aware that she looks like a wreck, still in a pajama with her hair messy from an hour and a half of sleep, but she doesn't care. There's a panicked Sam Winchester on the phone and last she checked, he had Hell-induced PTSD. "Do you need me to stay on the phone?"

And she's out the door, into the car, turning the key in the ignition. "No," he says, "I-I'll be okay. Thank you."

She doesn't like the idea of hanging up, but he's an adult and technically she can't order him around. "Call if anything...happens," she says, letting him know in the best way she can think of that she does remember the state of mental instability.

"Okay, thank you."

Two hours pass and there's a shivering Sam in her car pressing down on the scar on his hand and glancing around nervously. She hadn't known someone so large could be so small but even though her car is compact, he seems diminished. His arms are badly bandaged, light blood stains seeping through and there's gauze taped on his collarbone. Jody is sure there's more than that, too. She also knows better than to suggest he go to the hospital, so she's relieved she came to get him. From the way Dean acts around him and Bobby talked, she gathers that he has a tendency to be self-destructive.

Though it's a struggle, she forces a small smile. "We'll get you fixed up, okay, Sam?" she says, pulling out of the motel parking lot, narrowly avoiding a ten year old Saturn trying to get in.

Sam nods but he's clearly agitated, nearly breaking the skin with his nail and the noticeable flinch he gives when he looks in the rear view (she doesn't want to think about what that means). Not sure what else to do, she reaches over and touches his shoulder. He jumps before his eyes focus on her and he calms down."Thanks," he says again, voice cracking. "I'm sorry for calling."

"It's fine," she says and really means it, despite the time her clock reads. She'll call in sick to work because even Sheriffs are supposed to take a day off when they have the flu. Steve can take over. "Where's your car?"

He flinches again, though she doesn't know if it's from the hallucinations he's obviously having or the question. "I'm not sure if it's safe yet," he answers. "It's some place secure. I'll pick it up in two weeks after the drama from the - well, after the news finds something else to latch onto."

She wants to tell him, You'll be fine, Sam, but she can't because she isn't much of a liar. "Try to get some sleep," she says instead. "I'll make you something to eat when we get back, okay?"

Again, he nods, clearly exhausted and pointedly looking away from any reflective surface. Half an hour later he drifts off and she pushes his hair out his face, trying to decide what to do. The idiot will try to get his brother back, she knows, and he's a grown adult so there's not much she can do. Ever since that forty-eight hour period with Chronos, she'd been hoping to hear from the boys again. But this isn't exactly what she had in mind.

Even so, all she wants is for Sam is be all right.

(and he is, because this Lucifer lets him sleep)

.

Amelia knows there's something wrong with Sam. That he's broken in a way she isn't. That he can't be fixed if she wants him to be. And since he can't, she tries her hardest to pretend she doesn't see it.

Like right now, for instance, when he trails off in the middle of a sentence and looks terrified for half a second before dropping back into the conversation. She makes a failed attempt to mask her worry, but he doesn't seem to notice anyway; in moments like this, he gets distracted, going through the motions of a normal person but not really thinking about. He says he never served, but she knows that look. More than once it crossed her dad's face growing up and the first time Don came back on leave, he was this times a hundred.

Yet somehow, she thinks that Sam's case might be worse.

"When did you find the time do this?" she asks, looking around at the carpeted floor, welcome mat right outside the door, and plain wallpaper. There're traces red paint on his hands, though there doesn't seem to be a reason for it.

(she doesn't know that under the carpet and the wallpaper and welcome mat there are devil traps and protection wards and he may or may not have coated salt on every door and window)

He shrugs. "I'm a fast worker," he says and there's no reason to think otherwise. She'd been gone for nearly twenty-four hours, working overtime as a favor for a friend and before she got back, the house didn't look nearly this put together. "If you want furniture to be arranged nicely, though, that's on you."

She laughs, mostly because she knows her boyfriend has no sense of what's supposed to go where. The timer goes off in the kitchen, signalling dinner. She gives him a quick kiss and walks away, throwing a casual, "Don't forget to wash your hands," before moving her attention to the oven.

As she turns her back, she hears a quiet mumble in a language she's never heard before. This is a common occurrence, and she doesn't know how to even begin to ask.

She ignores this, too.

.

Sam curls up on the motel floor, hands pressed over his ears and forehead pressed to his knees as he tries to block out Dean yelling him. He keeps telling himself that this isn't real, that his brother's either dead or gone, Heaven or Purgatory, and definitely not here or Hell. Over and over he whisper, "You're not real, you're not real," in Enochian because if the hallucination answers, he'll know for sure this this is all in his head. Dean doesn't know how to speak Enochian. He didn't listen to it for nearly two hundred years straight.

And when Dean does answer, all tension bleeds out of his body. Sam's face is still buried in his knees but when the hallucination clucks his tongue, he knows he's stuck with Lucifer. Again. At least this he can deal with.

.

When he doesn't get an answer right away, Dean assumes (and Sam lets him). How could his baby brother just leave him like that? He'd been fighting his way out of Purgatory for a whole fucking year, only to find out he'd been abandoned for some girl and a dog and a college application. He's angry and doesn't hide it and what pisses him off even more is how blatant it is that Sam's defense of his actions is halfhearted. Real great, he thinks, finding out his brother doesn't care and all.

(he does care, of course, but Dean just got back from Purgatory and the last thing he needs is a crazy brother all over again)

It's tense, when they go look for Kevin, the messages on the discarded phones still ricocheting around in his brain. Sam's fucked up a lot in his life, no denying that, but leaving a eighteen year old to fend for himself? Yeah, that's not something Dean saw coming in a million years. He thinks about Benny, who he didn't trust but pulled through at every turn, and how his real brother just up and quit. Now he's looking away from him, out the car window, biting on the side of the hand like he used to when he was a kid and trying not to cry.

Seriously, though. What happened to the Sam he left? This Sam won't even look him in the eye. And the fact that he didn't even try? Yeah, real great knowing he made an impact on his life. All he wanted was his brother back and now he is and the kid's personality's done a one-eight. For once in his life, Dean doesn't actually know how to react.

Maybe that's what gets to him most of all.

.

"You didn't tell your brother, did you?"

Sam pinches the bridge of his nose, trying to stop the oncoming headache. He thought that having Dean back would mean Lucifer would go away, but it turns out it's just the opposite and all he wants is to stop - well, to stop being stupid, basically. He knows this isn't healthy, though that's never stopped him before. Maybe it's just because he can imagine the way his brother will look at him if he ever found out, how he'd act knowing Sam sank so low. No, he doesn't need this. This time he can deal with Lucifer on his own.

So he does.

"No, I haven't," he answers, still trying to figure out what made him get Jody in on all of this. She deserves putting up with him and all his bullshit about as much as Dean does. If he weren't so weak, he'd just drop them, let them live their own lives without having to deal with his sorry stain on humanity. As Lucifer likes to say. "I don't plan on it either."

With a sigh, she says, "He deserves to know, Sam."

He worries his bottom lip and flinches as Lucifer makes the window in the room shatter. He presses down on one of the healing cuts, which works just enough to repair the glass, but not make the devil go away. "He's going through enough on his own," he says. "Once we get that figured out, I'll tell him."

Even half way across the country Sam knows she doesn't believe him. "Just...don't forget, okay?" she tells him. "He'll know something is up."

He stumbles over his own words when he says, "I don't think so. I sort, um, just made it sound like - I have to go."

"Wait, Sam -"

"Sorry, Jody, it's important."

He ends the call and stands alone in the bathroom, shaking. "Liars go to Hell, Sammy," Lucifer says in his ear and he shivers. "I'll be seeing you again soon, won't I?"

Frantically now, he presses down on one of the cuts but it isn't working. The hallucination is whispering horrible things, a long mix between Enochian, English, and Latin that Sam can't keep up with. This should've gone away. Dean is back. Stone Number One. But Dean's mad at him almost permanently now and it really is like being back the Cage.

"Almost makes you miss it, doesn't it?"

Sam doesn't justify that with an answer.

.

Even without the help of the penny, Garth's not blind.

The Winchesters are literal legends for hunters, and he's seen them work together before. They were as flawless as it gets. But now Dean's pissed and Sam's upset and from half the stuff the older brother said, he isn't sure he wants to know the rest of the story (which is something Sam thinks is wise because it isn't pretty and they're ostracized enough). They're split up now, cooling down, and even though the younger Winchester argued right back, he's a little more worry worthy.

"Not now, Garth," Sam says, back turned. "Just...not now."

He's worried; Sam's holding himself weird. "I just -" he starts to say.

"Garth."

He doesn't know what's going on, but he knows his cue to exit.

.

Sam doesn't want to go back. Dean lied to him, Amelia was on the verge of making a terrible decision pertaining to him, and apparently a vampire makes a brother than he does. All in all, he's not having the best time of his life. Lucifer yammering from the chair next to the couch definitely isn't helping.

He knows he's screwed up. Really, he does. And he knows he deserves all the shit the world throws at him because fuck, that's karma. Even so, he sometimes he wishes, quite selfishly, that he could get a break for five minutes. Just some time to catch his breath and not have that voice in his head or wake up to the sight of the room peeling away around him. It used to be easier back when he really, honest-to-god had Dean, but he knows he can't put his brother through that again. Besides, he has Benny now. Sam doesn't necessarily have to be here anymore.

Then Lucifer is there, and he's staring down at the gun he doesn't remember grabbing. "The whole world knows how this is going to end," he says, making it sound like some sort of fact. "No one really wants you, Sam -"

"Sammy?"

He falls back into reality all of the sudden, finding himself face to face with a very concerned Dean. "What?" he says, still holding the gun because there's nowhere he can put it without it looking suspicious.

"You checked out on me there for a moment," his brother answers. "What're you doing with that?"

"I was planning on cleaning it," he lies, swallowing down his nerves. There's a sudden, wonderful absence of Lucifer hanging over his shoulder. "I guess I'm just tired."

Dean doesn't seem to believe him. Not really, anyway. "Sam, it's four thirty in the morning," he says. "How about you hand me the gun and go to bed?"

Oh, great. One of their first "positive" moments and it's because, well, he knows what this looks like. He isn't an idiot. "Sorry," he says and gives it over because Dean's holding his hand out for it. "What're you doing up?"

"Bathroom." More like a nightmare, he thinks. Sam is somewhat of a nightmare expert by this point. He barely sleeps now that Dean's back and he never really did in the first place. There's no need to wake up his brother by screaming when he has enough to go through on his own. Though Sam really is aware how terrible of a brother he is, he still makes the effort. "Go to bed. You look dead on your feet."

He nods, only half paying attention now. "Right," he says. "'Night, Dean."

He tries to ignore the way his hand twitches for the gun.

.

It's Dean who kisses Sam for the time since he got back, and it's exactly the way he remembers - rough lips and the tip of his brother's nose bumping into his cheek, hair tickling the side of his face. They're sweaty and bug bitten from their time at Charlie's LARP thing and all he really wants is to have Sam wrapped up in the sheets with him, but everything about the situation screams TOO SOON in all caps (because he has scars on his arms of varying shades and some that are barely past scabs). Suddenly, though, it's like everything melts away. All that bullshit and their floundering relationship and how fucking long it took to start this up again.

When Sam pulls away, he doesn't back out like Dean excepts, but instead buries his face in his shoulder. His hair smells like cheap motel shampoo and his shirt's all wrinkled from the laundromat. Though he doesn't want to say it out loud, he really, really missed this.

"What?" he says because his brother just finished mumbling that something wasn't clear enough to understand (and it was a stupid question anyway, just are you real whispered in an unknown language that Sam's been getting more and more used to).

Even though he can't see it, he can feel Sam's smile against his skin. "Nothing," he says. "I've just - been wanting to do this for a while."

No chick-flick moments, he reminds himself, but is too caught up in this to care. He presses a kiss to his brother's temple and brushes hair away from the nape of neck.

"Yeah," he tells him. "Me too, Sammy."

.

The bed's too small for men of their size to fit comfortably, so they lay together haphazardly. They - or, well, Sam, really - insisted he get the other bed, that he might as well try to sleep for now since a problem like this can't be solved in a day. Henry doesn't sleep, though, sitting instead around the small table, glancing over at his two grandsons every once in a while. They're fast asleep and some time during the night, Dean had rolled onto his stomach, arm flopped over his brother's shoulders. It makes him sadder than it ought to, but they just look so much like those other beaten down hunters that he just can't help it.

When he imagined grandchildren, he saw a yard with flower pots in the window and two kids playing on a swing set. Seeing instead two rundown men with a thousand years in their eyes is so far from that image that he's having difficulty believing it. Sam's hand is curled under his pillow, fingers presumably wrapped around that knife from earlier. From inside the bag that sits next to the bed, book spines are poking out. They look old like belong in with the Men of Letters though his grandsons are far too young to be considered one of the trusted few.

He's startled by a sudden noise and he can see the shutter that through Sam (there's electricity and fire and it's getting all stuffed up up up inside his soul). Dean doesn't move, but he hears a sleepy, "It's just a dream, Sammy," before the younger sibling falls quiet again. In the journal there's a picture of their mother with blonde curls and big blue eyes. There's no photo of his son, though, and he wonders which of the two bed's residents look like him. He wants to think that it's neither because while the two boys aren't the bad looking sort, they just seem so worn out that it's heartbreaking.

But he can fix this, he decides. All he needs are the right ingredients.

.

Being with Dean again in what's the closest to a healthy relationship as they can get has reduced his number of Bad Days, but that doesn't mean they've disappeared.

He'd been having a good day. A really, really good day. As in, sixteen hours straight Satan Free. But that was when it was light out and his brother was with him and he wasn't alone in the bunker, trying to hide out in a linen closest because the space was too small for Lucifer to show up. And to think that just yesterday he was telling Jody that he was doing better, that he and Dean were all okay again. While the latter is true, the way he's suffocating on smoke that isn't really there is pretty big proof that he's definitely not okay.

By the time his brother comes back, earnings in his hand, Sam's worked himself up into a panic attack and the gun on the end of table is look like a seriously good solution right about now. Dean takes one look at the scene in front of him and must figure it out because he's over to Sam in a second, hands on his shoulders. Sam tries to focus on him but it's too much effort and he's starting to lose reality way faster than normal. Apparently today is worse day than he realized.

Dean's hug is warm and solid. He runs his fingers through Sam's hair and says, "Don't worry, I've got you, I'm not leaving here again." There's no way he knows exactly what's going on, but he doesn't immediately demand answers, so Sam just lets himself be held and decides the fallout can wait til morning.

.

After Purgatory, Dean had forgotten what dealing with human insanity is like. Now, looking at Sammy lying unconscious on the bed, he remembers. He's on his back with his head turned to the side with his hair across his face. And Dean feels sick just seeing it because the position is the exact same way his brother feel when the Leviathan hit him with the crowbar and everything in their lives imploded for the hundredth time. There's even a bruise on the side of the face from the incident with Abaddon.

When Sam finally blinks himself awake, his eyes seem a little clearer. "Hey, Sammy," he says quietly, relieved when his brother can focus on his face. His breathing is back down to normal. This is too much like before Cas used himself as an emergency band-aid. "How're you feeling?"

"Tired," he answers, voice hoarse, gaze still steadily focused on Dean. "How long was I asleep?"

"Two hours," he says and Sam just sort of nods. "Uh, you plan on telling me what happened back there?"

(no, no he doesn't really want to because Dean doesn't need to know)

Sitting up, he says, "I guess I'm just worn down. I've felt weird ever since the poison dart thing."

The poison dart? That was yesterday. "Why didn't you say anything?" he asks.

"There was too much going on, I guess," his brother says. "I noticed it, but it didn't really hit me until I actually slowed down."

"Do you feel better?"

"Yeah, definitely."

Dean isn't sure he believes him or if that's even it at all, but Sam seems so whacked out that he for once he lets it slide.

.

Sam's trying his hardest to be careful, but it's getting to the point that avoiding sex without Dean getting suspicious if borderline impossible. The incident with the hellhound makes it worse because his brother's mad at him but at the same time he's all hands and mouth, standing between Sam's legs as he sits on one of the library tables. His head feels kind of funny from happiness and the way Dean's fingers dance around his hips. He isn't thinking straight, his own hands sliding under his brother's over-sized pajama shirt and slipping it over his head. He pulls him closer by his waist, Sam barely sitting on the table by now. Lips have made their way to that spot behind his ear.

Then, like an idiot, he opens his eyes.

He's greeted to the sight of the Cage, the walls of the bunker tearing down, fire licking at the table and his feet, and Dean starts falling apart in his arms. He screams, shooting backwards and ending up on the middle of the hard wooden surface, pressing his palms over to his eyes and trying to cry because despite how this feels he knows it isn't real. Vaguely, he's aware that his brother is talking to him, but he isn't in the state to actually hear anything.

Fabric rustles and Dean's on the table next to him, touching his shoulder. "I'm right here, Sammy," he tells him and Sam moves his hands, trying to calm his breathing. This is his brother, whole and unhurt. Reality is swimming back in. "Whatever you're seeing, it isn't real."

"I know," he manages to get out and leans into him. "Sorry, I just - I don't know."

"He's not going to let you do it," Lucifer whispers. "He's going to leave you all over again."

Without thinking about it, he turns towards the sound of the voice. "Go away," he says and instinctively digs his nails into the most recent cut, making the devil to flicker out of existence.

Fingers snap in front of his face, causing him to look back at his brother. "You're seeing him again, aren't you?" Sam nods, avoiding Dean's eyes. "Awesome. Is this -"

"I'm so sorry." The words come tumbling out of his mouth before he can stop them, but Dean just looks so disappointed. He knew this was going to happen, knew he was going to fuck up, knew that he should've gotten away before anyone else ever had to deal with this. Leave you all over again. Maybe Purgatory wasn't the best way to go, but he's so sick of letting everyone down that he deserves this. "I'm so -"

"Don't apologize," Dean cuts in. "Now you've gotta be honest with me. How long?"

He wants to lie, wants to say this is the first time, but his brother can connect the dots. "Within the first twenty-four hours of killing Dick," he answers. "I'm sorry I wasn't strong enough to stop it, I know I shouldn't have let it get to me, but -"

"I thought Cas took it away - oh." Yeah, that's one way to put it. "Jesus, Sam. Why didn't you tell me?"

"You just got back from Purgatory, Dean," he says, knowing his brother won't think that's good enough but for him it is. "You didn't need to deal with my mess and then you asked if I'd looked for you and when I didn't answer right away, you thought it was because I hadn't. It was easier."

"What, so you thought it was better for me to think you went off to just leave in a dream world and leave me for dead?" He doesn't answer. Dean is pissed but trying not to show it, which he appreciates. Even though he has a pretty good grip on reality, he doesn't think he can deal with his brother angry right now. Not without Lucifer coming back. "Sam, that's - fuck. And we've been hunting nonstop."

He bits his lip. "It's a distraction," he says, knowing how pathetic he sounds. "It keeps the flashbacks away. Mostly. And I know what's real and what isn't. This isn't like -"

Dean's got a grip on his shirt sleeve, and pulls it up. His upper arm is riddled with scars. "Son of a bitch," he says and Sam selfishly hopes that wasn't towards him. "So you know what's real?"

"The scar doesn't work anymore," he tells him, trying to take back his arm but his brother's holding onto his wrist pretty tight and he has no fight left in him. "I -"

"And all those times you were looking at the guns. Fuck, Sam."

So he's figured it out. "I know it's not real," he says again, "but that makes it harder to snap out of flashbacks. The gun...well, I was never actually going to do anything. I'm too scared of ending up back there."

People who commit suicide don't end up in Heaven, he knows, though according to his hallucinations that's not going to happen anyway. With good reason, too. He might've stopped drinking demon blood, but he's had it running through his system since he was six months old. Dean finally drops his arm and he rolls down his sleeve. "Is that why you're doing these trials, then?" his brother asks. "Is this some suicide mission for you too?"

"No," he says, completely honest. "And I'll be fine. I don't want to die, Dean."

For a moment, he doesn't say anything. Then, "It's like three in the morning. You should go to bed."

"Come with me," he says, afraid his brother will drink because he's mad and Sam doesn't want that cycle to start all over again. "Please?"

So Dean does and Sam's too tired to stay awake, so he falls asleep all tangled up with his head tucked under his brother's chin.

.

The night after Spencer gets inside their heads, Sam has a break down so bad Dean actually gives him stolen, fast-acting anxiety meds that knock him straight out. When his brother's cell phone rings and he sees that the caller ID reads Jody, he breaks all privacy common courtesies and picks up.

"Dean?" she says in surprise after he gives a hello.

He looks at his brother, passed out on their bed and taking up practically all the room. "Yeah," he says. "Back to the living, but I suppose you know that."

It's a lucky guess, but it's right. "Sam told me," she answers. "He let you pick up his phone?"

"Uh," he says, "not exactly. Have you been keeping in touch with him this whole time?"

"At least twice a month, yeah." Even though this probably counts as bad news, he's so ridiculously relieved to hear her voice that it's actually a little shocking. "Sorry for not calling you earlier, Dean, but he sort of, um, refused to give me your number."

Oh, perfect. How terribly Sam. "He went to you before he met that Amelia chick, right?" he asks because he did manage to get enough out of his brother to paint a pretty good picture of his past year.

(he's not paying attention to the road because there's Lucifer in the passenger seat, trying to snuggle in all close like he used to with Dean and then there's this dog coming out of nowhere and the clinic and a vet with curly brown hair and big eyes who's lost too so they click and for a while everything almost makes sense)

Jody sighs, which is as a good as a yes. Before she can actually confirm, he adds, "He didn't want you to tell me about the hallucinations, I'm guessing."

"He said you had enough going on without worrying about him." They really should've learned by now that lying to each other gets them nowhere good. "Why isn't he picking up, Dean?"

He spares another glance at the body next to him, checking his face for signs of a nightmare and finding none. "He's just had a rough day," he answers and runs his fingers through his brother's hair. They've both had a rough day and he can't stop seeing his mom burning in front of him. But as bad as his trip down memory lane was, he knows for a fact that Sam's was worse if his sudden loss of touch with reality was any indication. "Should be okay when he wakes up, though."

Sam moves in his sleep, body curling around Dean's like when they were kids. It strikes him with abrupt clarity his brother is thirty and they've been in this weird, on-and-off relationship for fifteen years. Maybe this time it'll finally stick. Jody asks, "How're you? I'm sure it can't be easy."

They talk for a while about the past year he's been gone and a little about what's going on now. She tells him she got rid of a ghost a few months ago and he tells her with a laugh that it's good to hear. At the end, though, as the conversation winds down and he feels the best he has in days, he says, "Seriously, Jody. Thanks for taking care of him while I was gone."

"It was nothing," she says. "Just gave him a place to stay until the town got to him too much. The thought of you coming back was the only thing keeping him going."

And now he feels like even more of a dick than before, which he didn't think was possible. He hasn't exactly been a stellar older brother since coming back and the fact that he said Benny was better than Sam still makes him sick to think about. He knows Sam doesn't believe it, but he's the best damn thing in Dean's life and that's not something that'll change any time soon. He and Jody say goodbye and after they hang up, he strips down to his boxers and slides under the blankets too, feeling guilty and happy at the same time.

Mostly, though, he's just relieved to have Sammy back in his arms.

.

I was thinking of ending in Sam's point of view, but I think it's complete enough. Please review!

Also, I have a headcanon that Sam can speak Enochian because I doubt Lucifer and Michael fought in English so he could understand.