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"Cold And Broken Hallelujah" (1/1, NC-17) [TMF] [Mar. 2nd, 2008|07:26 pm]
From The Ashes


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Title: The Minor Fall: Cold And Broken Hallelujah
Author(s): jainadurron and jediprincessdsv
Rating: NC-17 for graphic sexual situations
Timeframe: Season 3 AU, peri/post-"Mystery Spot"
Characters: Anna Ellsworth Winchester, Sam Winchester
Genre: angst, adult
Summary: Anna and Sam deal with the aftermath of Dean's murder.
Word Count: 7,155
Author's Notes: This 'fic is the beginning of an AU spin-off from "From The Ashes", written by jainadurron and jediprincessdsv, in which the trickster didn't rewind back to that Wednesday. This and all other stories marked "[TMF]" are part of that series, not the main "From The Ashes" one. Lyrics and title are from "Hallelujah", written by Leonard Cohen, but borrowed from the version by Jeff Buckley.

Well, maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
It's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

-- Jeff Buckley, "Hallelujah"

He was still cleaning the blood off his stomach when Anna pushed the bathroom door open. She stood there for a moment, just watching, before she spoke.

"You could have asked me, Sam," she said quietly. "I would have helped you."

Sam turned angry eyes to her; the anger he always carried now only diminished the lost-puppy look a little. "I can take care of myself," he said, voice bordering on a growl. He didn't want to snap at her, but there was just so much hurt, fear, and anger there, festering inside him.

Her blue eyes narrowed. "You can't always do it alone, you know." She was quiet at first, but then she seemed to remember that she was a Winchester, too, and therefore by rights, able to be as selfish as humanly possible. "You should have asked me! What, was I supposed to just walk in here and find you dead, too?!"

The fact that it was a bullet he'd just removed, the lump of metal sitting in the sink's basin, still wet with brilliant blood, was more than a sore spot. Dean had already been dead by the time she got down the stairs with the baby. She hadn't touched a gun since.

"It wasn't that bad, Anna," he protested. "I didn't want to wake Mariah."

He'd drawn himself up to his full height, as if to show her he was the head of the family now, the man of the house, and not to be questioned.

Sam had forgotten, of course, that that had never held weight with her. She, who had told off John Winchester for abandoning his family. Anna was not to be cowed by pure physical displays of dominance.

"Stop hiding behind her, Sam. I loved him, too, goddammit." She hauled off and slapped him, tears springing to her eyes.

Her swearing made him flinch more than the slap. He reached for her purely on an instinct to protect and comfort. It was just a reflex, really, but then he held her against him, and other thoughts surfaced unbidden.

Anna stomped on his foot, trying to get him to let go. She struggled, found herself pinned between his body and the counter, and she froze, eyes wide, as she stared up at him.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, a little bit broken. He was sorry he wasn't Dean. He was sorry he hadn't been fast enough, or smart enough to save his brother. Sorry for himself, sorry for her and for the baby sleeping soundly in her crib.

He had to make her hear it, so he simply held on tighter, fresh stitches biting into his skin as she struggled.

The fire in her eyes caught his.

"Anna," he said, simply, and dropped his head to her warm shoulder.

She loved Sam, too, though it had always been a sisterly affection held for him deep in her heart. But now, now was different. He wasn't Dean's Sammy anymore. He wasn't anyone's Sammy. He was Sam, and he was broken, and she felt the need within her to put him back together.

"I know, Sam." She reached up and stroked his hair. "I know."

He lifted his head a little, and turned his cheek into her palm, the same one she'd slapped just moments before. She wondered when, exactly, she'd ended up sitting on the counter; it evened the disparity a little, put their eyes more on a level, and she found herself reflected in green depths that were so similar to Dean's, but not. Where her husband's had been sage and gold with a band of turquoise, indescribably beautiful, Sam's were darker, deeper, olive and bronze and midnight blue in little flecks. She'd never noticed them before, never had reason to.

"Sam," she whispered, then stopped, not exactly sure what was happening.

He licked his lips slightly, then pressed them to the palm against his face, tasting the salty tang on her skin. He nudged forward, finding himself standing between her knees and carefully let one hand rest high up on her thigh. Fingers stroked carefully, not wanting to scare her off, but announcing that his intentions were just a little left of honorable. He'd stopped letting people in three months ago, and he'd worked hard to build this wall around him, around what was good in him. He was afraid of Anna, because she would always see it in him. He wondered if she could now, and if she knew it was him in there, still.

Anna felt her heart begin to pound. She wasn't oblivious to the expression he'd tried to shutter, and she was uncertain how to react. It had been a long, lonely three months. She'd never hold Dean again, and thinking of him still hurt. She didn't even know why she was suddenly entertaining these thoughts that had her mouth going dry in response to his hand on her leg. Her heart still belonged to Dean, but her head reminded her that he was gone. They'd built him a pyre like they had for John, and she wore his rings around her neck, on the cord of the gold pendant he'd never taken off.

But Dean wasn't here, and Sam was making it inescapably clear that he was.

"I'm . . . I'm . . . just me. I'm not . . . I mean . . ." He wanted to give her a chance to say no. No harm, no foul, but he needed for her to know that he wasn't Dean.

"Anna," he said, throat going dry as he pressed his closed mouth to her lips, lips just brushing hers.

Her other hand, the one not still touching his face, went to his shoulder. To ward him off, or pull him closer, she didn't know. If she let this happen, there was only one possibly conclusion. She knew it, could tell he knew it. Sex had never been casual for her, never would be, and there had only ever been one. Before this. And this? This would change everything.

They hesitated there on the brink for what felt like an eternity. And then she realised that if it didn't happen now, it would eventually. Tomorrow, a year from now. Somewhere down the road, the memory of Dean that held them together would just bring them to this place again, and again, until they finally gave in.

She knew when to pick her battles and when to back away, and maybe, just maybe, she could keep from losing him to that darkness he teetered on the brink of, if he had more to live for than just revenge.

Anna took a mental breath, pressed her mouth to his, and shoved them over the edge.

Sam sighed against her mouth, quietly gathering her closer to him. He moistened his weather chapped lips and kissed her again, softly. She was softer than he'd ever thought to imagine. The hand at her thigh wrapped around her waist, thumb brushing up and under her shirt, skimming the warm skin there. His tongue sought timid entrace into her mouth, carefully poking past his lips to touch hers.

She tasted sweet, and he softly groaned. He forgot how good it felt to touch someone, be close and share space and the same air to breathe. Anna was the only person who understood the things he did, had done.

Leaning into him, Anna deepened the kiss. It was weird that she was kissing Sam, but at the moment, it felt right. She might feel differently in the morning, but she'd deal with that when she got there. He'd never replace Dean, but maybe he could fill some of that empty space within her that just seemed to widen every day and left her so cold and scared.

She fisted her hands in his blood-stained tee and wrapped jean-clad legs around his hips, as months of grief and longing brought down her barriers and accepted him as a sacrificial offering. He had to brace a hand on the wall behind her head to keep from tipping over and banging her head against the mirror.

She fit against him snugly, even with the sharp edge of the counter cutting into his legs. He bore the pain, part of his penance to his dead brother for violating his sacred altar of worship. Dean had loved Anna above all others, even Sam.

Sam broke their heated kiss, a small string of spit still connecting their mouths as his chest heaved and he pushed his fingers through her hair.

She rested her forehead against his and closed her eyes, needing a moment.

"I'm sorry," he said again, barely audible.

Anna shook her head. "Shut up, Sam. No more apologies."

All they had now was each other. Anna was terrified to lose him, too, and maybe she was just as ruthless as he was becoming, because if it took sex to keep him here, that was what she was going to do.

She gripped the edges of the cut he'd made in his shirt and ripped it the rest of the way. Picking up the scissors, she cut through the collar and pushed the remains off his shoulders.

Sam retaliated quickly, yanking her shirt up and over her head, briefly trapping her inside before she raised her arms to help him get it off. She moved to cover herself, as a flush crept over her face and skin.

"Don't . . . don't do that. It's just me." He batted her hands away, and moved to lick low on her neck.

No one before Dean had ever seen her like this.

"You know . . . there was only . . . him," Anna panted, head tipping back, hands threading into his hair to hold him at her chest and to guide his mouth where she liked it.

She opened her eyes and watched when he slid the left bra strap off her shoulder and kissed her skin there. She shivered a little, shifting restlessly against him. Anna had to shove away memories as tears pricked her eyes. She blinked them away, concentrating instead on the way Sam's muscles flexed as he moved.

She ran her fingers over his shoulder and down his arm, her hand curving around his bicep, as his head dipped to her breast.

"I know," he told her, before touching his mouth to her breast, tongue flicking across her nipple and drawing it against his teeth carefully. Anna's grip on him tightened, the feeling painfully simliar, but sharply different. His other hand unhooked her bra and eased it away from her, freeing her for that hand now to palm the breast not being tasted.

Sam wanted to feel her, on his skin. Needed her alive and wanting this, against him, close, absolving him of this sin he would commit over and over again if she would let him.

Anna sighed as he closed his mouth on her nipple and fondled the other, both peaks tightening in response. She didn't know what he liked; Dean she'd known like the back of her hand, but Sam was a mystery.

She moved her hand to thread her fingers through his hair; it served to remind her that this wasn't Dean. The textures were still male, but different, so different. She couldn't tell him she loved him, not like she'd told Dean so many times--not enough, never enough--but tonight she wanted him.

"Sam," she said again, grounding herself in reality as much as she could.

"Anna." He wanted this to be right. Sam reclaimed her mouth, hungrily, almost purring like a big housecat each time she tugged on his hair. "Want you so much."

She lifted into his arms almost effortlessly, he picked her up against him. Anna wrapped her legs around his waist and squirmed, even as he hissed at the pain of his wound fighting his field medic stitching.

"Put me down, you'll tear it open again."

Sam didn't want to break the connection, her body on his, so he moved fast to the bed outside the bathroom door and let her fall onto it, hand protecting the back of her head from the pillows.

She hesitated a moment, as she had a flash of what the future would hold: illicit, desperate matings in motel beds and bathrooms with her dead husband's brother, while Dean's daughter slept on in oblivion.

It didn't really matter, she knew; Dean was gone and he wasn't coming back. But there was that part of her that knew where he was, and she ached for him, feeling as if she betrayed him by doing this with Sam. Even if Dean would understand, there was still the thought that he suffered in Hell, and she was taking his brother into her bed.

Anna forced that thought away. Enough. Enough.

She reached for him then, pulling Sam down beside her. "I want you," she told him, needing to say the words aloud and confirm it, knowing he probably needed her to say them.

Sam covered her, then, with his whole body. He propped up on his hands by her face, pushup style and let his gaze fall down her uncovered top half.

Anna blushed again. There was so much in that stare, that look. Hurt, betrayal, want, need, lust. Adoration. Worship.

Sam's mouth worked its way down, down past her collarbone, skimming over her hard nipples openmouthed, before showering her belly with kisses while his hands worked open her jeans. Every inch he exposed with his hand was quickly chased with his mouth as he tried not to think of what she must be thinking.

That Dean did this better.

That it should be Dean doing this to her.

And if it wasn't for Sam, Dean would be doing these things to her while their baby slept on like the angel from heaven above that Sam had always thought she was.

Anna had never been able to read Sam like she had Dean; Dean's emotions had, because of her clairvoyance, been an open book to her even when he'd been sullen and silent. But Sam was different; he was special, like her, even if he'd convinced himself that his powers were gone like the flick of a switch.

But that last one she caught, a whisper in the back of her head, and it forced her upright. She grabbed him, hand wrapping around the back of his neck, as she made him look at her.

"Sam," she whispered. "It was not your fault. That bastard was determined Dean was going to die that day. We couldn't stop it. All we can do now is find him and kill him."

It wasn't exactly romantic bedroom talk, but this wasn't about romance.

Anna rose from the bed and pushed her jeans past her hips and to the floor, so that she stood before him dressed only in a pair of black lace boy shorts. She saw his eyes flick past her to the mirror above the dresser, where the tattoo that rode the small of her back was reflected.

Sam's mouth opened to say something, but she was right.

"We'll find him," he promised her. "And we'll do it together."

His eyes were transfixed on her; she was smaller than he thought she'd be. Anna wasn't rail thin, and he liked that about her. She never obsessed about her body. Sam wanted to. He wanted to find out what made her arch and moan, wanted to make her feel good, even if he'd always be a pale, tall, comparison to his brother.

He scooted down to the end of the bed, trapping her between his denim clad legs and brought his mouth to her navel. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight, the strong pulse in her belly pounding against his ear. There had been life inside of her there, once. He hoped to find a reason for his life within her, tonight.

Anna petted his hair in soft strokes, shivering when he turned his head and kissed her belly. She didn't want to spend the rest of her life making comparisons to Dean. But 'til now, Dean had been it. She'd lost her heart to him, had suffered for him, and fought for him and nearly died for him. It wasn't fair to Sam, really, but there it was. Dean had been the love of her life, the father of her baby, and the thought of a life without him had her crying every night in the privacy of the shower, so that Sam couldn't see.

She wanted to be hardened, tough like Sam, but she wasn't. And she felt guilty for entertaining this, let alone acting on it. Not just for Dean's memory, but for the way she was raised. Anna knew she was on a slippery slope, but then, she had been since that night the Winchesters had given her a lift one rainy January night.

If she thought about it enough, she could justify this so that it didn't feel so much like a sin. After all, Dean would want her to be happy.

He would want them to take care of each other.

Sam owed her this, because her husband had sold his soul for him. He couldn't replace Dean, but he owed her solace.

He stroked his hands up and down her sides, and let one lonely tear drop from his eye. It caught between his cheek and her belly, as she softly stroked his hair, making him shiver. Quickly, he focused on toeing off his shoes and getting out of his socks. Something to distract him from feeling like he was tainting Anna with his own sins, his own burdens. Wet socks peeled down pruned ankles and toes, white, wrinkly skin, dead, dead, dean. Dean. Dean's wife. Dean's life. Gone.

Sam undid his own belt, pulled it through the loops and placed it next to his shoes. Dropping it on the floor would make a loud noise, and it might startle the baby awake. The button on his pants, and fly were undone. He looked up at her again, cupped her cheek in his broad palm, then brought his mouth to her navel and left a hot, wet kiss there. Downward, slowly downward he trekked, mouthing her through the black lace mesh. She tasted like Tide, and something . . . something distinctly Anna here, in her most sacred space, that it had him groaning and bucking his hips a little bit.

She nudged him backwards, so that she could get up on the bed, a knee to either side of his hips. She didn't speak, only pressed her hands to his chest and kissed him. She could tell he wanted to use his mouth on her, but she wasn't quite ready for that. It had always somehow felt just that much more intimate to her than penetration had. Whether the result of giving birth and having complete strangers probing there, she didn't know.

Anna pressed her lips to his jaw. She shuddered as his hands settled on her back, rolling her hips against him. She slid her mouth down his neck to his shoulder and licked there, where the two met, nipped a little at his pulse point. Careful of his stitches, she ghosted her fingers along the planes of his abdomen, before she circled one of his flat nipples with a fingertip.

Sam went down, willingly. He wanted what she was willing to give him, and he wasn't wanting to take anything she wasn't willing to do.

He worked his hips against hers, needing to feel a little bit more of that initial fire that had sparked between them moments ago by the sink. It was odd, because between them there was a certain level of intimacy. An ordinary, everyday, intimacy that meant Sam knew which brand of toothpaste she preferred and Anna knew Sam didn't mind if his socks were rolled together when they were matched.

The intimacy here should have been easy. He stroked her, up and down, pausing to cup handfuls of her behind and squeeze, grind her down on him, let her know the effect she was having on him.

Anna trembled as they pressed intimately, the evidence of his arousal hard against the juncture of her thighs. She rubbed against the hard ridge under the denim, her breath hitching as his long fingers played over her skin, teasing and coaxing. Warmth flooded into that hollow space within her, both figurative and literal. She closed her eyes and laid her head on his shoulder, as he had done with her earlier.

His touch in the curve of her spine sent little shivers coursing through her, tightening all kinds of things.

She didn't speak, afraid she'd call to someone else.

Sam pressed his palm to the back of her head, cradling her against him. He gave her little kisses to the temple, fingers gently massaging her scalp, other hand busy soothing down her back. Carefully, he rolled them over, adrenaline taking care of the pain in his stitches for him for right now.

His jeans dropped down to his knees as he rose up on them, evidence of his need and want pulling his boxer shorts to the front. He covered her again, relishing the feel of her warm skin pressed to his chest. Wriggling a bit, he was finally free of his pants and free to press himself all over her. He mouthed her neck, her breasts, gently rolled a taut nipple between his thumb and forefinger.

He wanted to talk, say something, let her know how much he craved her right now. But words were something he was afraid of. Words might break the spell, bring them back to reality.

Anna rose up on her elbows, not wanting to be totally passive about this. She reached between them, where his hips met hers, and slipped her hand past the waistband of his boxers. She stroked his belly, then fisted his erection. Tangling her legs in his, she explored him, learning the way he curved gently up towards his stomach, the thrum of his pulse under her touch.

"Oh . . . oh," he whimpered, pumping his hips toward her hand. "Mm. S'good."

Sam's eyes slid closed as his head dropped down. Anna was fast to learn what made him cry out softly, and what she could do with just her hand to make him shudder. She worked him with a firm hand, collecting the wetness from the top in her hand and smoothing it down his length to help her hand slide up and down.

"Anna." It sounded scratchy and dry. "Just like that."

Sam worked his hand into the front of her panties, long middle finger rubbing into the wetness pooling there. He did that. He'd made her react that way. Sam growled, predatory.

Anna sat up, Sam straightening to give her room. He pulled his hand back, not sure if she was uncomfortable with it. She smiled softly and took his hand in hers, guiding it back to her cleft, silently granting him permission to continue. She tipped her head up and kissed him, tugging at his lower lip with her teeth, soothing with her tongue.

After a moment or two, she reached with both hands to pull his boxers down, easing the waistband over his cock. She circled her fingers around the base of his erection, sliding her hand over the hot, velvety skin, comforted that this, at least, was familiar.

Her husband, she recalled, had liked her to hook her teeth just behind the ridge, here, and rub the underside of the head with her tongue as she sucked him. She'd always had to work his shaft with her hands, because she just couldn't swallow him. But Sam . . . Sam He was longer than Dean, just a little, but not quite as wide.

She scooted closer, pressing a wet kiss to his chest, just above his stitches. She almost felt ready for what he wanted to do. Almost. "Sam," she murmured. "I want to . . ."

She licked her lips, made herself continue. "I want to taste you."

He made some kind of noise, from the back of his throat. "Okay," he breathed. "You sure?" He kept his hand working between her legs, selfish about alot of things, but never in bed.

Anna blushed and nodded, hand on his chest as he went over on his back and kicked free of his boxers. She knelt between his splayed legs, stroking him with her hand. He reached down and stroked her hair, made a loose ponytail at the nape of her neck and held her blonde tresses away from her face for her.

She contemplated him for a moment, then lowered her head and wrapped her lips around his cock, letting him slide past her teeth. She could take more of him, but still only got so far before her gag reflex threatened. Anna bobbed her head on his erection, just as she'd been taught, holding him steady with one hand and stroking just behind his sac with the other.

The first touch of her mouth to his cock went zinging through him and he gasped.

"Sorry. S'been . . . awhile." It was his turn to flush now, embarrassed.

He moaned and tangled his hand in her hair, trying desperately not to push closer and choke her. It was so hot, looking down and seeing her little mouth on him.

Anna looked up at him for a moment, after he spoke then kissed his belly. He would always be Sam, somewhere inside that mess. Anna licked her lips before licking him from base to tip. Sam's knees tensed, and his free hand fisted a handful of scratchy hotel blanket. He didn't want to think of where she'd inherited this skill with her mouth, was only glad that right now he was able to enjoy the benefits of it. Finally, he knew he wouldn't last much longer like this.

"Anna, Anna . . . wait. I need to be inside of you. Please. Please."

His cock jutted up from his body, hard and shiny from her spit and his pre-come. One hand pressed on her shoulder, willing her to fall on her back and make a space between her thighs for him. He skimmed her boyshorts down her legs, pressing a kiss to the inside of her ankle , then trailing his tongue the whole way back up her leg. Anna squeaked and squirmed, pulse pounding and back arching.

She flailed for one of the pillows when his mouth reached the top of her thigh. Anna bit the corner to keep from crying out as his tongue found the hard nub of her clit. She pushed her hips up towards him, digging her nails in the cotton pillowcase, her head falling back on the bed, blonde hair spilling around her as she thrashed and tried not to wake the baby.

He only sucked at her a little bit, teeth just grazing her clit while long, clever fingers teased her entrance and liberally spread her wetness all over. Sam moved up, hooking his arms under hers and pulling her close, burying his nose in her hair for a minute. The head of him sought entrance to her body, warm, slick and needing to be filled. Anna tipped her hips up just as Sam nudged forward with his and together they inhaled sharply at just the very feel of it.

"Jesus," he hissed.

"Oh, D-damn," she breathed, stuffing more of the pillow into her mouth. Not speaking seemed like an even better idea now that she'd almost blurted Dean's name.

It was a slow, pleasant burn and stretch. Sam moved slowly, so slowly, holding her tightly to him. She buried her face in his neck, arms tight around him.

Finally, he bottomed out inside her. She let out a closely-held breath and smoothed her hands down his back. They lay for a long moment like that, neither moving, barely breathing.

Anna skated her fingers across Sam's back before shakily threading a hand into the longer hair on the nape of his neck. She felt her body accomadating his, making room inside of her Sam. She wondered if her heart could do the same. Her hips tipped upwards, letting him in just that fraction of an inch more and he nudged her womb, deep inside of her.

"Sammy, Sammy . . . Sam," she crooned to him, tugging on his curls and urging him to move.

He propped up on his elbow and kissed her quickly. He couldn't hear that name, just yet. But if there was anyone who was allowed to call him that now, it was still her, just . . . not now. Sam didn't withdraw from her fully, he kept himself almost full inside of her, just rocked his hips and kept her close to him.

She sighed and closed her eyes, arching under him. Something this wrong shouldn't have felt this good, she thought. It would probably be a while before it stopped feeling illicit . . . if it continued. Even as she had the thought, she knew it would. Only time rewinding to stop this.

Gazing up at him, Anna moved her fingers to brush his bangs out of his face. "Sam, you don't have to hold back. Please don't," she whispered. "I need . . . to feel."

He didn't really answer her, just picked up the pace, careful not to make the bed rattle too much. Mariah was sleeping mere feet from them, something he supposed he'd have to get used to, for the next time.

The next time . . . He was already planning it in his mind. Anna had become more than important to him, she'd become vital to his humanity. She was going to keep him sane, keep him here, and he knew this would happen again and again, sure as the tide rose and fell each day.

Anna's feet planted on the bed, giving her leverage to push and roll against him, and he responded in turn. His fingers went down to the juncture of her thighs, to help bring her off. Sam needed that from her.

"Harder," she gasped. She needed to pay a price for this, needed this to not be all tender and sweet, because her husband was suffering for eternity and she had not tried hard enough, had not done enough to save him. It didn't matter if she couldn't have done it; secretly, she blamed herself as much as Sam did, because she had resented that deal too long, had squandered what time they'd had. She'd sworn to protect him, and she hadn't. She'd failed in her duty.

The tension in her built and built, until she thought that if it didn't give, she would break, break irrevocably, in a way that nothing could fix.

He tried to go harder, bent her leg up closer to her chest so he could get deeper. Sam was panting hard with the effort, the blood loss and weight of the world on top of him, on top of Anna.

"Can't . . . not gonna . . . hurt . . . God, Anna m'so close, so close gonna..." He was warning her, and afraid now that he was failing her too in this one simple task she'd charged him with.

Her pulse was pounding in her head, Sam pressing her down, down into the sheets and she didn't know if she could find the release this time, to make this okay.

Sam came with a strangled grunt, pushing into her one last time and spilling himself inside. He went stark still, even while his cock still twitched, still hard inside of her. He was embarrassed and ashamed of himself. He was sorry, sorry, oh God was he sorry that he'd failed Anna in this simple, primal task. He was the man of the family; and he couldn't do the one thing she'd asked of him, the first thing she'd asked of him as the man of the family. He dropped his head to the pillow just left of her shoulder, tired.

She let out a long, slow exhale and stared at the ceiling, hardly able to breathe as the reality of it settled. Tears came to her eyes and she pushed at him, suddenly feeling trapped under his weight. As he shifted, she slid from beneath him and almost fell off the bed, fumbling blindly for the button-front shirt of Dean's she'd kept, pulling it on inside out to cover herself. She couldn't blame him; the fire within had seemed to sputter out when Dean had died, and she'd tried, she'd tried to get it back.

Her choked sob, stifled with a hand to her mouth, disturbed the baby. Mariah woke, blinked her daddy's eyes, and let out a disgruntled, abortive yelp. Anna scooped her up and held her little girl to her chest. She kissed the soft, wispy blonde hair on Mariah's head and let out a shuddering breath, not daring to look at Sam.

"Mama," the child mumbled, and buried her little face in the soft fabric of Dean's shirt.

"Anna-" Sam began.

She held up a hand, cutting him off. "Not now," she whispered. "Just . . . not right now."

Sam saw fresh blood on his torso. Not a lot. Just enough to remind him that he needed to get a bandage and cover up his burning, fiery stitches. He rolled and stood, not daring to sit for too long and dropped to his knee to pick up his boxers. He took them into the bathroom and got them on, slowly.

Anna tried not to watch him, tried to concentrate on her sleepy, warm daughter in her arms, but there was a trailing, cold wetness seeping down her thighs, sticky.

"Shh, baby. Shhh," she murmured. Mariah didn't hear her, she was already asleep. Anna tucked her back into her bed, and picked her underwear off the floor.

Sam took an antibiotic pill, and then swallowed four ibuprofen gel-tabs. He didn't recognize himself in the mirror. There were tear tracks dried on his cheeks, dark circles under his eyes.

Anna slowly approched the doorway. She knocked lightly on the doorframe, to get his attention. She felt a little steadier now, her pent-up tension having come out through tears instead of an orgasm. She kind of wished it had been the orgasm.

"Hey," she said softly.

"Baby okay?" he questioned, wiping off his face with his forearm.

"She's fine. Asleep." Anna put her hand on the small of his back. It was strung tight, tension stiff.

"Good. You need to get in here, don't you?" He caught himself revealing an intimacy he shouldn't have known about, but did, because his brother had a big mouth. He exhaled a little laugh. "I'll get out of your way."

Anna considered being embarrassed that Sam seemed to know these little quirks she had, but instead, instead she was oddly comforted by it.

"You should get some sleep." She petted his arm softly. "Keep an ear out for Mariah."

She needed him to know that she didn't regret what had happened . . . much . . . and she wasn't angry. She'd chosen to do this. He'd offered, she'd accepted. At some point, she was going to have to start living her life again. This was a first step. But she wouldn't apologise for crying.

Anna leaned in for a moment and hugged him. The intimacy of earlier, that had let her kiss him, had faded, but wasn't totally gone.

There was a smear of Sam's blood on her stomach, and his seed on the inside of her thighs. She felt a little queasy over that; before tonight, sex had always been something sacred shared just between her and Dean. There had always been whispered words of love and adoration. Days before he'd died, they'd talked about giving Mariah a little brother or sister. He'd been so focused on what he was leaving behind.

She'd found weeks before that Mariah wasn't getting that nebulous future sibling. Mariah was all she had that was part of Dean. Sure, she had the car--Sam drove most of the time, but the car technically, legally, belonged to Anna--and she had Dean's things in the duffle bag in the trunk. They still had his music, though the box of tapes had been relegated to the trunk as well.

Anna turned on the shower, stood there for a moment and let the water run, before she stripped off the plaid flannel. It still smelled faintly of Dean, but not like his leather jacket did. She missed him so much, it was a twisting pain in her gut that sometimes hurt so much she couldn't breathe.

She thought about what she'd done with Sam, and a hot flush infused her face. She'd never thought of him that way, hadn't even considered doing . . . that . . . with anyone since Dean had died. And even if it hadn't had the finish she'd wanted . . . she'd liked it. And she really didn't know how to feel about that.

Sam pulled on soft flannel pants to sleep in, and considered putting on a tee shirt. He decided against it for now, and simply bumped the heat up a little bit. The shower squealed to life behind the bathroom door-and in his minds eye he saw Anna, naked and flushed against him on that bed. He went warm all over, thinking about it again, even a felt a slight stir in his shorts.

Anna had always belonged to Dean. Same as the car, same as most of weapons, and even little Mariah, wrapped up in her fuzzy sleeper and blanket. These were the only things Sam had that were what was left of his brother, except for the black corded bracelet he'd worn. Sam had taken that and woven it into his and wore them together on his wrist. His father's wedding ring was laced in there, too, tightly. Anna wore Dean's rings, and the amulet. He wondered, if maybe, Anna might one day belong to him too.

His chest got tight, and he missed Dean so insanely at that moment. He dug through his bag gingerly and pulled out the white tee shirt that used to belong to his brother. It was yellowing in the underarms and had a questionable stain on the chest, but it was his favorite. Hissing, he raised his arms and dropped it over his head.

Mariah snuffled in her sleep, causing Sam to sharply turn. The baby rubbed her eyes and blinked sleepily, sucking her little thumb.

"Dada?" she asked. She hadn't stopped asking for Dean, yet.

"No, no, baby." He went over and scooped her up, with her blanket. "Just Uncle Sammy. Just me."

He cuddled her against his chest, and she put her face into the crook of his neck. Sam arranged the blanket around her and reclined on the bed, Mariah drifting back to sleep on his chest. He stroked her soft hair, and kissed her tiny head.

Anna hurried through her shower, instead of taking the time to sort through her thoughts like she usually did. This wasn't a night where she wanted to look at those too closely. After toweling off, Anna slipped back into Dean's old shirt. She losed her eyes, inhaling the hint of his scent.

"I wish you were here," she whispered. "I miss you so much."

If they'd still had the Colt, Anna wouldn't have hesitated to go straight to Wyoming to open that gate right back up. She'd spend the rest of her days fighting demons if she had to, if it meant Dean was free.

She used the back of her hand to wipe away a tear and drew herself together. She couldn't hide in the bathroom forever, embarrassed as she was.

Anna opened the door, letting the steam out into the room. Flipping the light off, she shivered a bit before she padded out on bare feet. It was May, still early in the month and a little chilly at night. Sam's lanky form was stretched out on the other bed, the one they hadn't used, with Mariah sound asleep on his chest.

How many times has Dean done that? Even on their hairiest hunts, ones they'd stumbled into and Anna stayed at the motel to protect the baby because they hadn't had time to drop her off at Anna's grandmother's, Dean had always found time for his daughter.

At eighteen months, Mariah was too young to understand where Daddy had gone. The little girl noticed his absence, and asked for him constantly, even three months after. Anna had no answer for her daughter's pleas than to say "He's not here right now, sweetie." Eventually, she'd stop asking, and Anna didn't know what to do then. She alternately hoped for and feared that her baby would forget Dean.

Sam opened an eye when she sat on the bed. "Hey," he murmured. But no more; he was cautious.


Anna reached over and lightly brushed the blonde wisps just under Sam's chin. "I can take her, so you can get some sleep."

He tightened his grasp on the child just a little. "She's fine. I'll put her back down in a minute."

"Okay." Anna knew when to choose her battles, and Sam obviously took some kind of comfort in holding Mariah.

She dressed quickly in pajamas, avoiding looking in Sam's direction as she did. Deciding not to make things more awkward, she silently got into bed beside him.

Sam felt the bed shift, Anna's slight weight dipping the mattress. He felt strange, awkward, even. Embarrassed. He felt selfish, for taking comfort from her body and offering hers none in return. He wondered if he should offer, but then reconsidered. She looked content enough, and there was time. For them at least. Mariah snuggled in his shoulder, deep, and he attempted what passed for a smile. The little girl drew in a deep, shuddery breath and exhaled it slowly, sleepily.

"Dada . . ." she uttered, dreamily.

Head ducking down, Sam dared to look at Anna. She had tears glittering in her brilliant eyes. Sam closed his own, briefly, bit on his lips and extended the arm closest to her. Anna hesitated for only a moment before occupying Sam's other shoulder with her head. His fingers gently stroked her cheek.

The heater clicked back on, a soft whoosh and the curtains waved.

Sam Winchester laid on the bed, holding on for dear life to what was left of his family.

And he prayed.

[User Picture]From: montisello
2008-03-04 05:20 am (UTC)
Oh, holy hell, this is was HOT.

And sad, and comforting, but mostly HOT.
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[User Picture]From: jainadurron
2008-03-04 05:34 am (UTC)
Heh, thanks. Um. Most of the 'fics in this series so far (I think we've got four in the works or complete) are smutfics. *facepalm* I know the first two definitely are. The fourth is just aaaaaaaaangst.

It occurs to me now that I could have posted this in two segments, but, eh.
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[User Picture]From: jediprincessdsv
2008-03-04 03:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you! We were sort of like, 'gee I wonder how people would respond to this?' and at least we sort of know, now.
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[User Picture]From: jainadurron
2008-03-04 03:43 pm (UTC)
Well, there's the possibility that not very many of the usual readers have seen it yet. Or had time to get around to reading it.

But I'm glad that the first review has "HOT" in it. Heh.
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[User Picture]From: tvmaniac2006
2008-03-04 10:36 pm (UTC)
It's weird to read Anna/Sam, but in a good way. I loved the angst mixed in with their neediness, and how Dean kept on being brought up even though he's gone...I LOVED it!!!! Mariah broke my heart :.(.

Well done guys, can't wait to see what happens next.

P.S. Sorry it took me so long to review. RL is hectic, and I had to wait for my melted brain to start functioning again after reading this HOT piece of work!!!
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[User Picture]From: jediprincessdsv
2008-03-04 11:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you! We were just sort of toying with the notion and then this got born.

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[User Picture]From: jainadurron
2008-03-05 05:36 am (UTC)
And then it sorta spread like a flesh-eating bacteria. ;) Just kidding!
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[User Picture]From: jainadurron
2008-03-05 12:03 am (UTC)
It's weird to write Anna/Sam. ;) I don't think they're ever going to completely stop thinking about Dean when they're together, since he was such a huge part of both of their lives.

The next one is almost done, should be completed in the next couple of days. I'd like to get some more work done on "A Fire Shall Be Woken" and the two after it before I post, because it mentions some things in a 'fic called "Lay Me To Sleep" that I've been working on for over a year.

It's okay, I was just feeling a little blue yesterday; I understand that people are busy.
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[User Picture]From: miss_faith_hope
2008-03-05 01:14 am (UTC)
Aww that was really smokin' hot and yet so sad and comforting. I actually found them very intriquing together, and Sam being there for Anna and Mariah was so nice .
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[User Picture]From: jainadurron
2008-03-05 01:28 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm not really sure where the idea came from, other than I dreamed about it the night the episode aired, but I'm really pleased with how it turned out.
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[User Picture]From: muses_circle
2008-03-05 03:41 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you posted a reminder on your LJ, because I wanted to read this and am horrible at checking my flist during the week.

I haven't read the entirety of the "From the Ashes" series, but you've broken my heart with this and yet somehow made this one of the hottest smut!fics I've read to date. *GUH* I can feel their turmoil, their sorrow, their need. GOD, this was great.

I really hope you're going to write more.
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[User Picture]From: jainadurron
2008-03-05 04:05 am (UTC)
Thank you! We're definitely going to post more, soon as we finish the next one.
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[User Picture]From: muses_circle
2008-03-05 04:07 am (UTC)
Fantastic! I'll definitely be on the lookout for it. ;)
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[User Picture]From: jainadurron
2008-03-05 04:13 am (UTC)
It's allllmost done. And it's, um, just as smutty. *snerk* It'll be called "Different Kind Of Knight".
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[User Picture]From: jediprincessdsv
2008-03-05 04:43 am (UTC)
Wow, thanks!
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[User Picture]From: cutedevil666
2008-03-15 11:46 pm (UTC)
Wow that was sad but very sexy at the same time.
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[User Picture]From: jainadurron
2008-03-17 12:54 am (UTC)
Thank you!
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From: littlebit_83
2008-04-10 02:12 pm (UTC)
This was very tear jerking! I've read the "From the Ashes" series and this is a great way of potraying life after Dean. Cant wait to read more!
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[User Picture]From: jainadurron
2008-04-10 02:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you! We've got more coming, we're just having a bit of difficulty wrapping up the next piece.
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[User Picture]From: _candyappleslut
2008-04-16 08:59 pm (UTC)
omg I haven't read fic in so long, but I'm so glad that I took the time to read this one. I had chills the entire time. Which might have something to do with the fact that it's like 60 degrees in April in Florida, but regardless, it was mostly the story.

It was beautiful and painful and I would not mind if there were more to this one. I'm having trouble remembering where I left off in the other ones, so I'll have to read those all over again, which I'm not at all upset about.

You're without a doubt, my favorite writer everrrr.
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[User Picture]From: jainadurron
2008-04-17 04:42 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you! There's actually more in this one, the second one was posted earlier this week. The third should be posted tomorrow, or the day after.
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