Author: moogsthewriter PM
Dean may be ticked off, but he's not going to let his brother go just yet. Post 4.04 "Metamorphosis"... mentions of suicidal tendencies, but with a happy ending.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Hurt/Comfort - Dean W. & Sam W. - Words: 5,760 - Reviews: 22 - Favs: 84 - Follows: 5 - Published: 12-30-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4755427
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Wrote this up for a friend over on lj, spuffy_girl, who's been having a rough week. Hope this makes you feel better, sweetie!
Specific episode quotes are courtesy of supernatural(dot)tv, and I don't own "Never Too Late." Don't own Supernatural, either, and I make no money. Just feedback, which is currency enough for me.
Mega-thanks to zookitty for the super-quick beta. Any remaining mistakes are mine.
Warnings: Spoilers for season 4. Specific references to 4.01, 4.03, 4.04, and a few vague references to 4.09 (if you squint really hard). Still haven't seen 4.10, so no (intentional) spoilers for that. Suicidal tendencies (although they are rather atypical of "normal" suicide tendencies...), angsty, limp!Sam, angsty, bigbro!Dean, and schmoop. Quite a bit of schmoop.
"Now and again we try
To just stay alive.
Maybe we'll turn it all around
'Cause it's not too late.
It's never too late."
-Three Days Grace, "Never Too Late"
"Figures you'd pick now to take a shower," Dean muttered around the paper bag clenched in his teeth. He balanced another bag and two drinks in his left hand as he dug around in the pocket of his jeans for the room key. He kicked the door once more to make sure Sam wasn't coming to help before he shoved the key into the rusted lock. After a little jiggling and some muffled swearing, the door swung open and Dean stepped into the room, kicking the door shut behind him.
"Hey, they were out of fries so I got onion rings instead," he called as he pulled the bag out of his mouth and upended it on the small table. He set the rest of their dinner on the table as he shoved an onion ring into his mouth. Frowning at the lack of response, he turned toward the bathroom door and froze.
The door was open, and the bathroom was dark.
Sam was gone.
"Sam?" Dean called, crossing the length of the room to glance in the bathroom and confirm that his brother was not there. His cell phone was up against his ear, the line ringing before he had even turned to look at the room again.
"Sonuvabitch," he breathed, his gut clenching when Sam's phone vibrated on the end table between the beds. He snapped the phone shut and shoved it in his pocket, eyes scanning the room for a note, a scrap a paper – any clue where Sam had gone. Sam's duffel bag was still on his bed where he had tossed it earlier. The comforter was wrinkled where Sam had been lying on it while watching TV when Dean had left. The TV was off now, the remote perched on top of the set.
The room was exactly the way it had been when Dean had left an hour before, except for the fact that Sam wasn't there.
Dean ran a hand over his face, trying to think past the headache which was quickly blossoming back to full force. The last couple days had been rough – between finding out his mother's secret, his brother's secret, and the knock on the head from the rougarou, there'd been a constant throb behind his eyes that had been barely kept at bay by painkillers and coffee.
Forcing his own pain aside, Dean assessed the situation. The room was in good shape – no sign of a struggle. Dean had seen enough of the fighter his brother had become while he was gone to know that Sam would've put up a fight… unless he was ambushed.
But that seemed unlikely as well – Sam had spent twenty minutes putting the wards and salt lines in place. If something had gotten in, it would've had to have done something to break those wards.
Which meant Sam must've walked out on his own power. The duffel bag on the bed suggested Sam wasn't walking out for good, but that didn't provide as much reassurance as it used to. True, Sam had said he wouldn't use his powers any more, but then Sam had said a lot of things to Dean lately – things that had turned out to be either half-truths or outright lies.
Your brother is headed down a dangerous road, Dean. We're not sure where it leads. So stop it. Or we will.
Dean sat down on the bed next to Sam's duffel and bowed his head, rubbing at his forehead with the palm of his hand. Deep down, he knew that Sam meant well – he really did. Sam's fierce determination to try and save Jack Montgomery from his fate and his agony over having to kill him in the end had proven to Dean that underneath this new façade, his Sam was there somewhere. The Sam that longed for normal, the Sam that agonized whenever an innocent had been killed by a supernatural creature, the Sam that Dean had spent his entire life raising and protecting, the Sam that was worth saving – that Sam was somewhere underneath this new dark, brooding, lethal hunter.
This lethal hunter who Dean didn't understand and had now possibly gone out to do what he had promised he wouldn't – use his demon-given powers.
The worst part was Dean had no idea how to start tracking him down. Sam had left his phone in the room, and Dean had taken the Impala earlier, so he couldn't have taken the car. There was no bus or cab service in this backwater town and the parking lot had been empty when Dean had left, which meant wherever Sam had gone, he had gone there on foot.
Maybe he could get Bobby to do a tracking spell – although he was fairly certain Sam had somehow avoided one of those before, since Bobby hadn't been able to find him during those months when Sam was alone –
Dean jumped to his feet, yanking his pearl-handled Colt out of the waistband of his jeans and aiming it at the door. Without a word he silently stalked across the room, squeezing the doorknob once before twisting it and throwing it open. He blinked in surprise at the brunette glaring at him.
"He's gone, isn't he." It wasn't a question, and her eyes flared black as she scowled. "Damn it," she hissed, whirling on her heel and walking away.
She paused mid-stride as a bullet chipped the asphalt in front of her feet. "I really don't have time for this," she said tersely, turning back to face Dean, who had aimed the Colt between her eyes.
"Twenty-six West Spruce," Ruby shot back, crossing her arms.
Dean's eyes narrowed. "Why?"
Ruby smirked faintly, her own eyes narrowing. "He's pulling another kamikaze stunt, more than likely."
Dean tilted his head in confusion, gun arm dropping down to his side as his gut clenched in fear. "What the hell are you talking about?" he demanded, barely keeping the tremor out of his voice.
Ruby smiled humorlessly. "That's something you need to talk to Sam about. But if we don't get a move on, there may not be anything of Sam left to talk with." She jerked a thumb over her shoulder in the direction of the Impala. "So you gonna give me a ride or what?"
"Get your own ride. You're pretty good at popping in wherever you're not wanted. And who said you're coming, anyway? We don't need any more of your 'help,'" Dean replied, reaching behind him to slam the door shut and tucking his gun back into his waistband as he strode toward his car.
"This demon's one of Lilith's direct underlings – someone pretty high up on the food chain," Ruby told him, jogging a little to get around to the other side of the car. "The less I use my powers, the better chance I have of getting in close without him knowing. And you're gonna need all the help you can get, short bus."
Dean swallowed hard as he glared across the top of the Impala at her. "So Sam's going to use his powers." That stupid, lying –
Dean's mind stuttered and stalled in mid-rant. "Wh-what?"
"No, he's not," Ruby replied shortly. When Dean opened his mouth, she added, "I would know because when he uses them, he's like a supernatural beacon. I can feel the demon using his powers. I can't feel Sam – at all." She paused, her eyes softening just the slightest when she saw the horror on his face. "So are we doing this or what?"
Dean clenched his jaw as he tugged his door open. "Get in, shut up, and don't touch anything."
Sam swallowed as he stared up at the dark, silent barn. His hand strayed back and pressed against the handle of Ruby's knife, sheathed between his leather belt and his jeans. His eyes flicked around the perimeter of the old farm as he let his hand drop to his side, fist clenched. The leaves on the trees had dropped, and the wild rosebushes that had been planted along one wall of the barn had completely withered away. He didn't need to use his "freak powers" to know what crop failure looked like, nor to understand that the swift demise of the plants meant. The demon inside was a powerful one.
Do you even know how far off the reservation you've gone? How far from normal? How far from human?
He flinched at the memory of the words and the look in Dean's eyes, then squared his shoulders. This would be for the best. With any luck, he'd take this demon down with him, ridding the world of two evils. Even if he couldn't quite finish the job, he was fairly certain Ruby wouldn't be far behind him. She'd finish it.
He's gonna turn – they always turn.
He wouldn't have to worry any more about whether or not he was doing the right thing – if his next hunt was going to take him one step closer to becoming what Yellow Eyes had wanted him to become. Castiel and the other angels wouldn't have to keep an eye on him – they could focus their attention on other battles.
No one would even suspect Sam's true intentions. He'd built up enough of a reputation over the last few months as a demon slayer that other hunters would just assume he'd bitten off a little more than he could chew this time around. It was suicide, they'd say ironically. They'd never guess that it actually was.
And the best part? Dean wouldn't have to worry about stopping his little brother from fulfilling his destiny as the Boy King. He could focus on whatever it was God wanted him to do to save the world.
All in all, a win-win situation, as far as Sam was concerned.
He walked forward, braced his feet in the mud, and pushed on the door. After a moment, it slid open with a low groan. Once the opening was wide enough, he slipped through.
The setting sun cast enough light through the open door to dimly illuminate the barn's interior – and the figure standing in the center of the floor. The black man's big burly arms were crossed over his Cornhuskers sweatshirt, and his eyes were black as he smirked. "The great Sam Winchester," he sneered. "I've heard so much about you. I must say it's an honor. Lilith sends her regards, by the way."
Sam narrowed his eyes. "You've been following me since Illinois."
The demon chuckled, raising his hands so the palms were facing Sam. "You caught me. I've had to keep my distance – your brother's marked property now. So how'd you know?"
"I have my connections."
The demon nodded sagely. "Ruby. Figures. Although I can't say I'm surprised. Don't know what she sees in you exactly, but…" He trailed off with a shrug.
Suddenly a huge pressure slammed into Sam's body. His head slammed back into the wood as his body collided with the wall, and he gasped reflexively as the pressure increased, driving the air from his lungs.
He managed to twist his head down enough to see the demon walk up to him. "Careful now," the demon cooed, reaching behind Sam's back and grabbing the handle of Ruby's knife. Sam hissed as the blade pressed into his back. The demon continued to press it lightly against Sam's skin, splitting the flesh along Sam's side and around to his navel. The demon raised it up and waved it under Sam's nose, the bloodied tip just skimming his chin. "Wouldn't want you to accidentally stab yourself, would we?" he finished before taking a step back.
Sam managed to take a breath through his nose, wincing when the movement sent fire racing from his battered ribs and the gash on his lower abdomen. He swallowed painfully as the pressure increased again. The demon tilted his head. "Hurts, doesn't it? Is this the part when you go all Jedi on me and force me out of this body with your mind?"
The demon blinked in surprise at the grunt. "No? Really, Sammy, I'm disappointed. I was rather hoping to see the Boy King at work."
Sam growled and gasped, "I'm no – Boy King."
The demon clucked his tongue. "Obviously not. Can't even get yourself down from a wall. So let me guess again – is this the part where your brother comes to rescue your scrawny ass?"
"No," the demon repeated, taking the knife and lightly running it up Sam's right arm. The razor sharp blade sliced through the fabric of the button-up shirt, leaving a light red line on Sam's forearm. "Leaving his brother hung out to dry? Now that doesn't sound like the Dean Winchester I've heard so much about. Are you sure," he hissed, pushing the blade into Sam's bicep, "that he's not coming?"
Sam sucked in a breath, squeezing his eyes shut as the blade twisted a little in his arm. "He won't," he gasped. Dean couldn't come – that would throw all of Sam's plans right out the window.
The demon stared at him for a moment longer before suddenly grinning maliciously as he withdrew the blade. "I see. The great Dean Winchester doesn't approve of the choices his brother made while he was away, is that it? Doesn't want to risk seeing your… potential at work?"
Sam grunted in pain as the knife plunged into his left forearm. He felt the faint vibration of the knife tip hitting the wood on the other side of his arm. "So what do we do with you? Too helpless to get down off the wall, too weak to use your powers to get yourself out of this." The demon sneered, clucking his tongue again. "Azazel would be so disappointed."
Good, Sam thought, a guttural cry slipping out as the knife twisted sharply before sliding out. His head fell back against the wall as the fabric of his shirt parted beneath the knife blade. A shiver ran up his spine reflexively as the cool evening air hit his sweaty skin a moment before the blade lightly sliced into the skin above his breastbone, making him cry out.
The demon hummed softly as he circled the devil's trap tattoo on Sam's chest with the knife tip. "If it weren't for this pesky thing we'd all be lining up for the chance to run your body. All that potential in those powers… mmmm… it'd be too good to resist," he leered.
"You wouldn't… be able… to use them," Sam gasped between quivering breaths.
"No, probably not," the demon agreed, opening another gash along the ribs on Sam's right side. "But that doesn't mean we wouldn't have fun trying." He tilted his head. "Just what did you hope to accomplish here, Sammy?"
"Wanted… stop you," Sam panted.
The demon backed up a step. "I highly doubt that," he replied, one eyebrow raised. "Walking right in, armed only with a knife, not planning on using your advantages… I thought John Winchester would've raised a better warrior than that. It's almost like you wanted to die."
Sam swallowed, trying not to let the moisture pooling in his eyes fall. He'd hoped to have died a little sooner than this. Maybe if he'd acted like he was going to use his powers –
"You did, didn't you?" the demon exclaimed, sounding almost gleeful. "You're on a demonic version of a kamikaze mission!" He threw his head back and laughed. "All these years fighting monsters and you finally decide your life sucks now? What brought this on?"
He's gonna turn – they always turn.
"Too much pressure? Can't handle all the responsibility?"
I can't ever rip it out or scrub it clean! I'm a whole new level of freak!
"Or maybe it's because of your brother. Did mean ol' Dean say he hates you? Did he say he can't stand the sight of your face?"
Cas told me to stop you. See what that means, Sam? That means that God doesn't want you doing this.
Sam suddenly gasped, pulled from his memories as the demon grabbed his hair and yanked his head down so he could look into the leering face. "That's it, isn't it? Big brother found out about your new abilities and drove you away, didn't he? Now poor ol' Sammy's all alone, got no one in the world to pal around with except his girlfriend, who – oh yeah – happens to be a demon." He laughed and released his grip on Sam's head. Sam let it sag to his chest, helpless to stop the tears from falling now.
"So instead of cutting here…" The demon grabbed Sam's right arm and twisted it so the palm was facing out. "I should be cutting… here."
Sam's head shot up with a sharp cry of pain as the knife sank deep into the flesh of his upper forearm and jerked across. Sam forced his eyes open and looked at his arm as he felt the blade slide out. Blood was gushing from the gaping wound, and a puddle was already forming on the floor. "If this is suicide, we might as well make it look like it, right, Sammy?" the demon crooned.
Sam let his eyes slide close again as the demon moved to the other arm. He was already feeling lightheaded, and he barely felt the pressure of the fingers wrapped around his left wrist.
The fingers on his arm dropped away as the demon grunted. A moment later the pressure keeping Sam against the wall disappeared and he slid downwards, too weak to keep his knees from buckling when his feet made contact with the floor again.
But instead of hitting the floor, his upper body was grabbed and pulled into a pair of strong arms. His head was nudged up so that it was resting in the crook of a broad shoulder, and something squeezed his arm tightly. A gruff voice above him chanted, "Oh God, oh God – stay with me, Sam, you stay with me–"
Dean had come.
Dean was here.
"Dnnn," Sam breathed, opening his eyes a little and rolling his head back against his brother's shoulder so he could look up into Dean's face. His forehead wrinkled slightly in confusion when he saw the obvious panic in the sharp green eyes looking down at him.
Familiar eyes. Not the worried, haunted eyes he'd become accustomed to seeing since an angel had rescued his brother from Hell, but the clear, protective, fiercely loving eyes Sam had always seen growing up – the eyes Sam thought he'd never see again, the eyes Sam thought he'd lost the moment he decided to let Ruby teach him how to use his powers.
Dean was here.
"I gotcha, Sammy, you're gonna be fine, you hear me?" Dean barked hoarsely, giving Sam's shoulders a shake. "Stay with me, dude."
Sorry. Too late, Sam thought dimly as his eyelids became too heavy for him to keep open. Dean was yelling at him again, shaking his shoulders, squeezing his arm, talking to another familiar voice – Ruby? – but the darkness clouding Sam's mind obscured the words. He let the darkness take over, Dean's voice from another time and another place – another life – following him into oblivion.
As long as I'm around, nothin' bad's gonna happen to you.
The drab whitewashed walls of the small room were just the same as the walls of any other hospital room. Even the picture of the geese flying over a small pond ringed with cattails looked familiar. Not that Dean was paying any attention to the décor.
No, Dean's focus was the same place it had been for the last three days – on his brother.
Sam hadn't stirred once since he'd gone limp in Dean's arms back at the barn. The doctors had said it was probably the severe blood loss – severing a large artery and a large vein would do that. They'd been pretty optimistic after the reconstructive surgery to fix up Sam's mangled right arm. Whatever knife Sam's "kidnapper" had used had been sharp and clean, leaving cleanly-sliced cuts with minimal chances of infection. And despite a few close calls, Sam's heart had never stopped beating. It would only be a matter of time before he woke up – he was obviously a fighter.
Except they didn't know Sam was here in the first place because he'd stopped fighting.
Dean sighed as he leaned forward in his hard-backed plastic chair. He slid his hand beneath Sam's right one, taking minute relief in the warmth radiating from the skin of his brother's palm. His eyes darted down to the thick swath of bandages covering Sam's arm from mid-forearm to shoulder before darting back up to look at Sam's lax face.
When he'd gotten to his brother, part of Dean's mind had been convinced that he and Ruby were too late. The walls and floor where Sam had been pinned by the demon were stained with blood, and his skin had already been cool when Dean had caught him as he fell.
But the other part of Dean's mind – the part that had been in control back in Cold Oak as he'd been driving to the crossroads – screamed in defiance, forcing his hands to put pressure on the gushing wound on Sam's arm. It was one of the few times Dean had been grateful for Ruby. She'd taken care of the demon, which meant Dean could focus on the only thing that really mattered at that point – saving Sam.
The hours after that had blurred together. He remembered the hollow feeling in his chest after Sam had been whisked away behind the swinging ER doors. He vaguely remembered Ruby showing up with a change of clothes so he could get rid of his bloodstained ones. He vividly remembered washing his hands, watching Sam's blood swirl down the drain moments before he had lurched to the bathroom stall as his stomach heaved.
He faintly recalled various nurses and doctors stopping by throughout the night to update him on the various surgeries and procedures. They'd been able to reconnect the artery and vein, the muscles had miraculously been relatively unscathed, and the tendons that had been cut and damaged were reattached, and with a little therapy Sam would regain full use of his arm. They'd sewed up the gashes on his chest, back, side, and other arm. Sam had a decent-sized lump on the back of his head, but the scans didn't reveal any sign of a concussion.
Then he'd been escorted to Sam's room, and he'd been forced to shove his hands in his coat pockets to hide their relieved trembling at seeing his brother alive – patched up, pale, and unconscious – but alive on the almost-too-short bed.
And now they were here: Sam still limp and Dean still worrying that maybe his brother wasn't really on the bed after all – that maybe it was just a shell, and he'd never get the chance to straighten things out with the only person in the entire world that really meant anything to him.
"It'd be nice if you'd wake up soon," Dean whispered hoarsely. He swallowed a few times, trying to work some moisture back into his throat. He'd been quietly talking to Sam about almost anything and everything since the moment he'd planted himself in this chair two and a half days ago. The conversation topics had ranged from childhood memories to favorite movies to worst diners to hunts they'd been on.
Dean hadn't once mentioned his stay in Hell or Sam's powers – the former because he didn't want to risk Sam actually hearing him and the latter because he just didn't know what to say.
Big brother found out about your new abilities and drove you away, didn't he? Now poor ol' Sammy's all alone.
Dean blinked as his eyes started burning again. He'd caught the tail-end of the demon's taunts – about how Dean had supposedly abandoned Sam, despised Sam – and Sam's lack of denial had hurt worse than any physical wound ever could.
He turned the hand beneath Sam's over so he could grip his brother's tightly. "I'm right here, Sammy," he whispered fiercely. "I'm right here, and I'm not going anywhere. So you shouldn't, either."
There was no response. No faint hand squeeze, no twitch of the eyelids. Nothing to indicate that Sam was back with him.
Dean sighed again, rubbing his free hand over his face. Things were more screwed up than ever, and he had no clue how to fix them. He'd had no idea that Sam was floundering this badly. Yeah, he'd noticed Sam's broodiness, his new coldness, but Dean had assumed that it was something that came with the territory – a result of adjusting to life as the last Winchester. Compared to when he'd lost Jessica, Sam had been downright flourishing while Dean had been gone.
Or so Dean had thought. But as depressed as Sam had been after Jess's death, he'd never once brought up the idea of suicide. True, there were times where Sam had been so focused on finishing the hunt he'd almost killed himself doing it, but Dean had never assumed it was intentional.
But maybe he'd been a lot closer to loosing his brother back then than he'd thought.
He's pulling another kamikaze stunt, Ruby had said. Another. Which made Dean wonder just how many there'd been before. How close had he been to coming back to a world without Sam? How many times had Sam tried to kill himself using someone else's hands?
You were gone. And I was here. I had to keep on fighting without you. And what I'm doing… it works.
Ever since Dean had witnessed Sam using his powers back in that warehouse, he'd been wondering just how hard Sam had fought the draw to them. Had he waited a week? A month? Two?
Had he ever really fought the draw at all?
I've got demon blood in me, Dean! This disease pumping through my veins, and I can't ever rip it out, or scrub it clean! I'm a whole new level of freak! And I'm just trying to take this… curse, and make something good out of it! Because I have to.
But maybe… maybe Sam hadn't taken the easy way out. Maybe it had been the only way – the only way his brother had been able to keep going, to move on where Dean hadn't been able to. Maybe honing his powers had been the only thing keeping another kamikaze stunt from becoming the last kamikaze stunt.
I tried everything, that's the truth! I tried opening the Devil's Gate, hell I tried to bargain, Dean, but no demon would deal, alright?
And put in that perspective… Dean couldn't really blame his brother. That didn't mean he approved of what Sam had done – not by a long shot. But Dean could still recall the desperation he'd felt after Sam had died, the pure need that had driven him to make that fateful decision at the crossroads. He remembered the gut-clenching fear that maybe, just maybe the demon wouldn't deal and he'd be left all alone.
Sam had been trying for months to get Dean out and nothing had worked. Dean couldn't even imagine living that way for a week – he'd barely endured a few days. He'd counted on the fact that Sam was stronger, more independent than Dean had ever been. Dean hadn't even been able to consider the thought of a world without Sam, let alone endure it. That's why he'd been damn proud of Sam for lasting as long as he had.
That is, until he found out about the powers. Then all his fears of if you can't save him, you'll have to kill him and one hundred percent pure Sammy and the Boy King came rushing to the forefront of his mind, and before he knew it he'd been ranting and raving, hoping that Sam would come to his senses and see just how close to dangerous territory he was.
Apparently Sam had listened – and reacted in a way he'd thought was appropriate.
"I'm sorry," Dean whispered, squeezing Sam's hand again. He licked his lips nervously, glancing to the doorway to make sure it was empty. "I'm sorry, Sammy. I didn't… I wasn't…"
He paused for a moment, his eyes scanning Sam's face, before taking a deep breath. "When I saw you… in that warehouse… I was scared, man. Not of you, but… but for you, dude. Cas meant business when he said the angels would stop you, and… and I can't lose you again. I won't – not if I can help it."
Dean snorted humorlessly. "Not that your… powers aren't useful. 'Cuz they are. And I know you meant well whenever you used them."
He leaned in a little closer, his head hovering a few inches away from Sam's ear. "But you can't… we can't afford to go down that road, Sammy. It's too risky – for both of us. 'Cuz there's no way I can take you out if you stray too far. And I… it… it would kill me to watch you die again, Sam. So… so we gotta come up with something else. Maybe… maybe we can talk to Ruby. See if she can whip up another Colt or something."
He shifted so that his left hand was gripping Sam's right hand while his other threaded through Sam's hair. "But you gotta come back, Sam. You… you have to. We can work through this. We will, I swear. Just… just… please, Sammy. Wake up."
Dean swallowed and sighed, letting his head drop forward to rest on Sam's pillow. From the open doorway he heard the intercom go off as a soft female voice paged a surgeon to the OR. A cart squeaked and rattled as it was pushed by the door.
Then the hair beneath Dean's right hand shifted.
Dean's head shot up, watery eyes wide as he looked at Sam's face. "S-Sammy?"
The muscles around Sam's eyes tightened a little – a tell-tale sign that he was trying to wake up. "That's it, Sammy, you can do it," Dean urged, gently rubbing Sam's forehead with his thumb. "C'mon, dude, wake up."
Sam's head jerked a little towards Dean's voice, and his hand tightened reflexively around Dean's fingers. His eyelids flickered a little, and Dean saw a slit of blue-green before it disappeared again. "C'mon, just a little more, Sam – please."
At that, Sam groaned softly and his heavy lids parted a little. "D'n?"
Dean grinned. "Hey, Sammy."
Sam blinked slowly, his eyes wandering over Dean's face. "M'sorry," he whispered.
"Don't be," Dean replied firmly, ruffling Sam's hair a little. "We'll worry about it later, okay?"
Sam's forehead wrinkled a little. "W'rk through?"
Dean swallowed and nodded firmly. He'd gotten through – somehow, someway, he'd gotten through to Sam. "Yeah, Sam. We'll work through this."
Dean's eyebrows furrowed in confusion for a moment before his eyes widened. He's gonna turn – they always turn. Sam had been convinced Jack wouldn't become a rougarou, and he had. Sam had been convinced he wouldn't become evil…
His hand squeezed reflexively around Sam's. "You won't," he said firmly.
"I promise, Sam."
Sam stared at him for a moment longer before the corners of his lips twitched into a smile. "Jerk," he whispered fondly.
Dean grinned. "Go back to sleep, bitch." He removed his hand from Sam's hair as his brother drifted off to sleep, but the grip around his fingers remained firm. "We'll get through this," he added in a murmur as Sam drifted back to sleep.
And for the first time in a long time, Dean actually believed that.