Believing in the unbelievable wasn't usually Bobby's biggest problem in life, but this was hard to grasp.

That Dean had brought Sam back to life after that incident in Cold Creek had rattled him, but not really surprised him. It wasn't so much the fact that Sam was back that had put a kink in his slinky as the fact that Dean had actually sold his soul to accomplish this. And it had raised a lot of questions about Dean's feelings of self-worth.

When Sam had brought Dean back from the dead, that had been grueling and horrible to watch and it had made Bobby doubt Sam's sanity for a bit. And it hadn't surprised him that the effort to restore a destroyed body hadn't been exactly what Sam had hoped for.

But this ... this had him stumped. He didn't know how to handle it, didn't know how to respond. A big part of him refused to believe that it was true.

John had returned his attention to Dean and was just watching him with slight concern.

"Sam thought Dean was in Hell," Bobby said after a moment of silence. "He went through Hell himself to get Dean out. And now you're telling me he wasn't? You're telling me that Sam ... pulled him out of Heaven?"

John glanced at him. "I guess you could see it that way," he said.

Bobby eyed Dean for a moment and wondered if he remembered any of it. Then he suddenly focused on John again. "You ... remember where you were?"

"In a sense, I guess I do. I couldn't tell you what it looked like or anything. But ... it was peaceful. It felt like home." John just sat there and watched Dean. "It's fading. Little by little, I'm losing the sense of it. But it's okay. I am where I'm supposed to be."

"Does that go for Dean as well?" Bobby asked. "Is he where he's supposed to be?"

"I don't know," John confessed. "Judging by his response to coming back ..." He shook his head lightly while never taking his eyes off Dean. "I don't know," he repeated.


One week later

Sam was back on his feet, albeit still a little sore. He was healing fast, like always, and for the time being there was a truce between him and his father. John didn't bark orders at anyone and Sam tried his best not to annoy the man by following his initial urge to counteract everything John said and did. He had realized that it was so ingrown that it was hard to stop, but he was consciously aware of it and therefore not inclined to give in to the urge to be obstinate.

Fortunately, he had Dean to focus on. There was no difference in his condition and Sam kept researching in the hope of finding something that might snap him out of it, but so far he had found nothing that even vaguely resembled this.

John had told him where the box had come from and Sam couldn't help wondering if Lucy was just another demon with a chip on her shoulder or if she really was Lucifer in the flesh. It was possible, Sam assumed, that this witch in Maine had been a conduit, that the LL really did stand for Lucifer the Lightbearer. And he figured he would grab his phone and call her one of these days when his curiosity got the better of him.

But for now he chose not to involve her and spent hours every day just talking to Dean, involving him in his research. In part he was hoping that it would annoy Dean so much that he would eventually just tell him to shut up or go somewhere else, but so far Dean hadn't even glanced in his direction. The only thing Dean did in the presence of any of them was to shift his position slightly.

Sam was sitting on the other end of the window seat, papers spread out around him, a book in his lap, the laptop on top of the papers, while he was trying to make sense of an ancient text that was written in a very odd Latin. He scratched at his healing chest and made a face. "I have no idea what the hell this means," he said and glanced at Dean. "This must be some sort of ... pig-latin," he added and put the page he had been studying down.

Dean, who sat with his knees pulled up, suddenly stretched one leg out, nearly kicking the laptop off the window seat and Sam barely caught it. He eyed his brother closely for a moment, hoping against hope that Dean had done it on purpose, but there was no indication of any other activity. "I really wish you'd talk to me, Dean. Tell me to shut up or something," he said, hoping to incite something, but still Dean just sat there and stared out the window.


Sam glanced toward the door. "What?" he called back.

John turned up in the doorway, glanced from Sam to Dean, then back again. "Give him a break," he said.

"From what? You think it's wearing him out, staring out the window all day?" Sam countered. He was feeling a little rebellious right now, mainly because it was really starting to bother him that he couldn't break through Dean's wall. He believed Bobby's theory that Dean was aware, just not responsive.

"No, but you're talking to him constantly. How the hell is he ever going to sort through anything with you yacking in his ear all the time?" John asked, his tone a bit tense.

"I'm not 'yacking' in his ear all the time," Sam shot back, feeling his temper flare. "I'm involving him in what I do."

"And since when has Dean ever cared a crap about research?" John shot back. "Just give him a break, dammit."

"Why don't you give me a break?" Sam snapped. He instantly regretted losing his temper, but was too ticked off right now to take it back at once.

"Because I don't think you're helping him," John said, his tone now decidedly commanding. "You need some air. Go outside."

"No, I'm not leaving him alone," Sam said stubbornly.

"Sam, dammit," John snapped back.

"Stop it."

They both froze and turned their attention toward Dean, who was still staring out the window.

"What?" Sam asked.

John came closer.

For a moment nothing happened, then Dean suddenly glanced at Sam without turning his head. "Just stop it," he repeated quietly. "Stop fighting."

Sam glanced at John, who glanced back at him and arched an eyebrow. "Only if you start talking to us," John said.

Dean blinked, then turned his head to face John. He stared at him for a moment as if contemplating his words, then shifted his attention back to Sam. And before either of them could think of anything to say, he turned his attention back to whatever he was looking at out there.

John grimaced. "Oh no, you don't," he said, using his commando tone. Before Sam realized what he was about to do, John had grabbed Dean's shoulders and forced him away from the window. "Look at me," he demanded.

Dean blinked a few times, then focused on John.

"Now talk to me," John said.

All Dean did was stare at him.

"I know you're hearing everything we say, Dean. And this silent treatment has got to stop. Right now! Do you hear me?" John demanded.

"Dad, go easy on him," Sam tried.

"No, not anymore," John disagreed and to make a point shook Dean once, hard. "Talk to me, dammit!"

Dean just sat there, listless, and the second John stopped talking, his attention started drifting again.

"How long are you gonna keep this up?" John demanded. "You're not four any more. I know you've been through hell, but that's not what keeps you from talking. I know you, Dean. Talk to me! Right now!"

Sam felt very uncomfortable about this rough treatment of his brother, but something was happening. Dean seemed to attempt to gather himself enough to talk back, to say something. He fixed a somewhat wavering gaze on his father, then frowned. And so suddenly that it took John by surprise, he yanked out of John's grip and pushed back against the window. "Leave me alone," he rasped, pulled his knees up, wrapped his arms around them and buried his face against them.

Sam glanced at John, then back at Dean. "Dean?" he asked quietly.

John sighed lightly. "It's progress. Just leave him alone for now," he said.

Sam ignored him and placed a hand on Dean's arm. "Dean?" he tried again.

But Dean didn't move, just sat there with his face buried against his knees, his arms wrapped tightly around them, and Sam finally decided to follow his father's advice. He gathered all the papers, closed the book and put the whole thing on top of the laptop, which he left sitting on the window seat next to Dean. Then he got up and followed John out of the den.

John closed the doors behind them and leaned back against them. "Well, that just goes to show that he's still in there. He just doesn't want to talk to us right now," he said.

"But why?" Sam asked while eying the doors as if they had the answer to that question.

John wiped a hand over his lips. "Because of where he was when that ritual pulled him back here," he said and focused fully on Sam.

Sam frowned. "What do you mean? Where was he?" he asked, suddenly not so sure he wanted to know.

"Wherever I was," John countered and eyed him sadly.

"So Lucy was right?" he asked. "He wasn't in Hell?" Sam felt cold all of a sudden. The thought that he had yanked both his father and his brother away from the well-deserved peace they had both been craving ever since the fire, made him feel really bad and he was beginning to think that Dean had been right that he was a selfish bastard, that he couldn't focus beyond what he wanted for himself.

"No, he wasn't," John agreed. "Bobby told me that he said something the same night he came back. Apparently he thought he was in Hell," he added, took a step forward and grabbed Sam's shoulders. "Don't you ever blame yourself for this, Sam. You did what you felt was right and that's all you have to focus on. Dean just has to adjust to the idea of being alive again. And I think it's very important that we challenge him right now and not just let him sit there and wither away."

"But ... I ..." Sam tried, but couldn't come up with a coherent sentence right now. "I thought she lied. I ... thought he was in Hell. I ..."

"Sam, look at me," John demanded. "And hear me. This is not your fault. What you did, you did to save your brother from eternal torment. And there was no way you could have known what the box contained. That was my fault. I didn't tell you about the damned thing. And I'm not one bit sorry that you opened it in the end. I'm happy to be back."

"But ... I did that to Dean. I ..." He couldn't help it, he was feeling panicky, torn up with guilt, terrified that he had damaged his brother beyond repair just because he couldn't face the world without him.

John stared at him for a moment, then let out a sigh and dropped his gaze to the floor. "This is all my fault," he said. "If I had let you two be kids instead of ..." He shook his head, let go of Sam's shoulders and stepped back. "This is all my fault, Sam. Not yours. I started this and I'm sorry. I should have ..."

"What the hell is going on in here?" Bobby stepped into the livingroom, a gun in one hand and a cleaning rag in the other.

"Dean just told us not to fight," Sam said, although he didn't have the fortitude to make it sound as funny as he wanted to.

Bobby eyed him for a moment, then put the gun and the rag down on the coffee table, opened the doors to the den and stepped inside. Before either Sam or John could do anything other than glance at each other, Bobby closed the doors behind him, cutting them off from whatever he had in mind.


"Dean?" Bobby asked and eyed him closely for a moment. "Are you aware enough to respond here or are we going to continue this charade? Because it's really getting old now."

For a long moment nothing at all happened. Then Dean raised his head and blinked at Bobby.

"Well, at least you're responding when someone says your name. That's more than my dog did before he died," Bobby said, intentionally lending his voice a gruff tone. "Are you through being a recluse now?"

Dean just stared at him for a moment, then glanced at the door behind him. "Where am I?" he asked and suddenly took an active interest in his surroundings.

"In my den. Where you've been sitting for the past three weeks, doing nothing but staring out the window. Now, what the hell is wrong with you?" Bobby asked and stepped closer.

Dean frowned lightly. "Someone was yelling," he muttered.

"That would be your dad and Sam," Bobby agreed. "It was only a matter of time before they got back at eachothers throats. And, quite frankly, I'm not up to the challenge of keeping them apart unless I threaten to shoot your dad full of buckshot again. I'd rather avoid that, so you're just gonna have to snap out if it and get back to being the mediator between them." He knew it was unfair to bring that up, but Bobby was afraid that Dean would lapse back into that catatonic state unless someone kicked him hard in the keister right now.

Dean blinked and focused on him again. "But dad's ..." he began, but trailed off. "What the hell happened?"

"That depends," Bobby countered. "What's the last thing you remember?"

A whole array of emotions rippled over Dean's expression at that question until he settled on a dark frown. "Bela shot me," he muttered.

"And that was a life time ago," Bobby said. "You remember nothing after that?"

"I don't know," Dean said. "I ..." He shook his head lightly and scrubbed both palms over his face, then stopped short and stared at his hands for a moment, then brought one palm up to his face to smell it. Then he made a face. "What the hell am ..." he began, but trailed off. "When's the last time I showered?"

"A life time ago," Bobby said and arched an eyebrow at him. He watched Dean intently when he got off the window seat and then stopped moving. His balance was shot to hell, which was probably understandable, seeing as he hadn't moved much over the last few weeks, but it still worried Bobby a little.

Dean stood still for a moment, his eyes on nothing, then he blinked, visibly snapping himself out of it, and took a tentative step forward.

"Where are you going?" Bobby asked.

"I need a shower," Dean countered.


John looked up from where he had dropped down on an armchair and had to admit that he was stunned to see Dean up and moving on his own when the doors opened to the den and Dean stepped through. He met John's gaze, then Sam's and for a moment the boys just looked at each other.

Sam stepped forward, hesitant and close to tears, and for a moment it looked like Dean would just walk away. But then he managed a smile, weak as it was, covered the distance to Sam and pulled him into a fierce hug.

For a moment they just stood like that, then Dean pulled back. "Enough," he rasped, clearly emotional right now. "What'd I miss?"

Sam grinned like a good while a single tear trickled down his face. "Where should I start?"

John rose when Dean turned toward him. "That'll have to wait, Sammy. I need a shower first," Dean said and met John's eyes.

"I'm glad to see you up and about, son," John said.

Dean nodded, then turned and left the livingroom without another word.

Bobby stood in the doorway to the den, hands in the pockets of his jeans and watched them quietly.

"Thanks," John said.

Bobby arched an eyebrow. "For what?"

"For whatever you said to him that made him snap out of it," John countered.

Bobby smirked. "That wasn't me. That was you two, going at each other again. He really doesn't like it when you fight. He never did."

John felt chastised and as such would have responded in kind to it as well, but he put a lid on his annoyance and instead acknowledged the raised finger. "Yeah, I guess we should ... cut that out," he said and focused on Sam.

Sam nodded. "Might be a good idea," he agreed.

"That's more like it," Bobby said. "Now, let's see if he stays with us or decides he's better off wherever he was these last three weeks."

"You think he might ..." Sam started, but trailed off. "I'm gonna go check on him," he added and left the livingroom in pursuit of his brother.

John watched him go, then settled back down on the chair. "I may not have done much right, but I somehow managed to make them stick together," he said.

"How could it have been any other way?" Bobby asked. "You've drummed into Dean every day of his life that he needs to take care of his brother. And he's done that to such a degree that he hardly has a thought for himself. Everything in his life revolves around Sam. I sometimes wonder if that boy has an original thought in his head."

John could hear the accusation in Bobby's words and even though it made him bristle, he still kept his temper in check. Mainly because Bobby was right. "I'm not sure it'll make any difference if I try to change his approach now," he said.

"It won't. The only thing that will change how Dean sees himself is if you do whatever you can to bolster his self-esteem. Because, under all that bluster, John, he's a scared four year old kid who just lost his mother." Bobby nodded toward the door. "Let's go get a cup of coffee. I sure could use a little pick-me-up."

John nodded and rose again. "You know them better than I do," he said.

"I've spent more time with them than you have," Bobby countered, ruthless to a T.

"I guess it might be a good idea if I ... spent more time with them, huh?" John asked and couldn't help a wry grin.

"What are you smirking at?" Bobby demanded.

John clapped a hand onto his shoulder. "You're like the dad I never had," he said.

With a roll of the eyes, Bobby stepped into the kitchen and put the coffee on while John sat down at the kitchen table.


Sam waited for half an hour before he started to get nervous. He spent another ten minutes outside the bathroom door, listening. Then he finally knocked on the door. "Dean?"

For another few moments nothing happened. Then the door suddenly opened and there was Dean, wrapped in a towel. "What?" he asked.

"Uhm ... I was just ... I thought maybe ..." Sam had no idea what to say and stumbled over the words.

Dean eyed him for a moment. "I'm fine," he said. "I'll be right out," he added and closed the door again.

Sam sighed lightly, feeling a little flustered, then turned around and headed back to their shared room where he dropped down on his bed to wait for Dean to turn up. It took another fifteen minutes before he finally did and he moved slowly.

He settled down on the edge of his bed to pull on his socks, then stopped moving and just sat there while he stared ahead of himself.

"Dean?" Sam asked after a moment.

"Stop worrying, Sam. I'm fine," Dean claimed. "I'm just ... tired," he added.

Sam nodded and they sat in silence for a while. Sam kept turning things over in his mind while trying to decide how to approach what he needed to know the most. In the end, there was only one way to accomplish what he was after and that was the direct route. "Do you ... remember anything?" he asked.

Dean blinked, briefly closed his eyes and sat up a little straighter. "I'm not sure," he admitted. "It's ... I remember flashes, feelings mostly. It's all jumbled," he added. "I think it's better that way, though."

"Probably," Sam agreed and rubbed his chest pensively. "Bit of a shock, having dad back, huh?" he then asked.

"Doesn't seem like you've missed a beat there," Dean countered and eyed him sharply all of a sudden. "Do you guys always have to fight?"

"We don't always fight," Sam said. "It's just ... I can't help it, Dean. He just ... his attitude ... everything he does. I've been fighting him for so long, it comes natural."

"Yeah, well, it's not natural to fight this much," Dean muttered, then focused on Sam. "Could you make an effort to not fight? Just ... for a little while?"

Sam eyed him and for the first time really realized how much it bothered Dean that they had fought so much. "Sure," he said. "I'll give it a try if he will."

"Wrong attitude," Dean countered and got up. "I'm hungry," he added and left the room again.

Sam just sat there for a moment. Then he smiled. There was nothing more normal in his world than those three words. Dean was back and that was, in the end, all that mattered. Family.

The End