Tick, tick, tick.

Dear god could that clock have moved any slower? It had to be behind. There was no way I had only been sitting here for 13 minutes, when was the last time someone checked the batteries in that thing?

I hated this deadbeat town, this stuffy school, this stupid detention room, and that shitty slow-motion clock.

You tell one teacher to fuck-off and they stick you in detention for an hour at the end of the day... which means I was stuck sitting in this hard-assed chair until four-thirty. Four freakin thirty, I mean wasn't it illegal or something to forcefully detain someone against their will in school past three-thirty?

I loathed detention.

They kept you in the crappiest classroom in the school and left you sitting in silence, and there was never any hot girls there, meaning the obnoxious battery-dying clock is all that was left to stare at. But the absolute worst thing about detention was that the moron supervising it took your cellphone, so that you couldn't call your little brother to tell him that you were going to be a whole fucking hour late; which meant that my little brother was stuck outside that crummy middle school waiting for me and the Impala to come and pick him up.

He probably thought I was late or that I had forgotten him or worse, that something happened to me; which meant when I finally did show he was going to be angry, worried, and hurt. It meant that I was going to have to beg for forgiveness, while assuring him I'm alright, and promising that it will never happen again. It also meant I was going to have to tell him why I was late and since the little brat could see my lies coming from a mile off, I was going to have to tell him the truth, and then I was going to have to see the disappointment in his eyes and listen to the "you should stay out of trouble, you're better than that" lecture.

God I hated detention.

Five-hundred million gazillion hours later that bloody clock finally caught up with the rest of the world. Less than five minutes after that I was speeding my baby into the gravel of the middle school's parking lot, scanning the area for my little brother. I spotted him sitting dejectedly on the bleachers; shoulders slouched, brown hair blocking his face as he looked down at his feet. I knew he heard me arrive (you don't have to have a hunter's ears to hear the Impala's engine rumble), which meant that Sammy knew I was here but had no interest in making his way over, not a good sign.

Sam made no movement to acknowledge my arrival, not even when I climbed halfway up the bleachers and plopped down beside him.

I was trying to figure what to say, deciding whether I should start out with apologizing or try and avoid a chick-flick moment with a sarcastic comment or two, luckily Sam was the first to speak.

"Hi."

Okay, so he didn't form a sentence or anything, but he gave me a word, and because I was an awesome big brother, a word was all I need.

From that simple 'hi' I was easily able to establish that Sam was upset, not angry. In some ways I would prefer anger, because then I wouldn't feel like such a douchebag, but at least I knew how to handle a sad Sammy.

"Hey kiddo, what's going on?" I asked, maintaining my casual air, but wanting to figure out what was going on in the little squirt's head to make his shoulders hunch in such away.

"What took you so long?" Sam asked quietly, still looking down at his feet.

"Ya, sorry about that bro, I just got in some trouble, had to stay after school."

At my explanation Sam looked up immediately, his eyes raking over my appearance, no doubt looking for damage from the fight he'd assumed I got into.

"You alright?" He questioned quietly, placing his hand gently on my arm, as though he would be able to magically feel any injuries I had acquired through my clothing.

"Ya man, I'm good. It wasn't that kind of trouble." I smiled a little, slightly pleased at my brother's outright concern for my wellbeing.

"What'd you say?" Sam inquired, after he returned his gaze to his shoes.

"What? I didn't..."

"Come on Dean, I know you. You got stuck in detention, so if it wasn't for fighting than you must have said something stupid to someone, probably a teacher, possibly the principal. So, what'd you say?"

I smirked, because of course this kid would know.

"Okay, so I said something. I don't see how it makes any difference what I said." I remarked.

"Just tell me." Sam sighed.

"Why?" I asked.

"Dean, I just want to know what you said." Sam insisted and I could tell he was getting agitated.

"Dude, why does it matter?" I questioned genuinely curious, but not wanting to piss the kid off. I had already let him down once today.

"It matters because whatever the hell you said is the reason I have been sitting here for the past hour terrified, trying to figure out how I am supposed to survive without you!" Sam yelled, anger showing in the rise of his tone and the clenching of his fists, but the cracks in his voice and moisture in his eyes betrayed another emotion entirely.

I was taken aback by my little brother's sudden outburst and wasn't entirely sure how to react. I had been ready for anger, even tears, but the complete desperation I could see in those puppy dog eyes was almost my undoing. I could tell this discussion wasn't really about me being late, that something deeper was clearly bothering the kid, and I was about to tell him as much.

"Sam, I think..."

"Just tell me what you said." He interrupted, in complete frustration.

"I told my teacher to fuck off." I stated.

"Why?" Sam asked, resting his chin on his folded hands..

"Sammy, I really don't see the point in..." I began.

"Why'd you say it Dean?" The question was almost whispered as the young boy glanced up at me quickly, before returning his gaze to his feet.

"My teacher was harping on me for not doing the homework. I told him some stuff came up over the weekend and I didn't have the time, but the guy wouldn't let it go. He threatened to give me more work on top of it as punishment and then refused let me leave the classroom after the bell rang, so I told him to fuck off." I summed up simply, hoping to end this part of the conversation so that I could figure out what was really going down in this kid's head.

"You shouldn't have said that." Sam replied quietly.

"Ya, I know buddy, it just came out." I admitted.

"You have to be more careful Dean."

"Careful? Sam, he's a teacher, he wasn't going to slug me or anything."

"No, but what if next time your teacher wants to talk to your parents and then he finds out that Dad isn't with us and that we are on our own and then what if he finds out you're taking care of me and we can't get a hold of Dad and then people come take me away!" My little brother was practically hyperventilating by the end of his speech.

"Whoah, whoah, Sam! No one is taking you away kid, what the hell?!" My outburst was much more abrupt than I intended it to be, something I regretted immediately when I saw the boy close up and drop his chin back down onto his chest.

"Sammy, what's the deal dude? What's got you so upset? Because I know what's going on up here," I said, poking my brother's hair covered noggin, "has nothing to do with me being a little late and dropping an f bomb."

"It is about that though! You can't keep getting into trouble, because then they might take you, or me and I don't want to be alone Dee, please!"

I was shocked watching my little brother practically shaking in fear as tears streamed unobstructed down his face. On top of that, he called me "Dee" something the kid only did when he was injured or frightened.

"Sammy it's not going to happen okay?" I assured, pulling my little brother into my chest, resting my chin on his floppy hair as I ran my hand soothingly up and down his back.

"I promise kiddo you're never going to be alone, not ever. I'm never leaving you Sammy." I vowed.

"Okay? You hearing me little brother?" I asked after receiving no response. I felt his head nod in silent agreement as I pulled him tighter into me, physically enforcing my promises.

We sat there for a few minutes, until the small kid in my arms stopped shaking; by which time I had decided he needed to eat more because I could feel his spine as I continued to run my hand up and down his back.

Sam pulled away from my arms, sitting up straight, and wiping discreetly at his eyes as he returned to looking at the ground. I rolled my eyes at my little brother's embarrassment; the kid looks for a way to create chick-flick moments and then he gets all shy after they happen.

"What brought this on Sam?" I asked, not entirely understanding where all this little brother-angst was rooting from.

"It was nothing, I'm sorry." He replied quietly, still watching his feet.

"Dude, you were just sobbing like a girl two seconds ago, this is not nothing."

"Shut up." Sam muttered defensively.

"Come on Sammy, I need to know what's going on, please." I winced, this was getting pretty close to begging, and Winchesters don't beg…then again there is nothing I wouldn't do for this kid.

"It's stupid." He said, almost as a warning.

"Doesn't matter. I want to know." I declared, knowing he would understand it as my promise not to mock or make a joke out of whatever he was about to tell me.

"It's just something this kid at school said."

My interest was piqued immediately, I hated that Sam and I were in different schools. I wished we were closer in age so I could always keep an eye on him.

"Ya, what'd he say?" I asked, tone already threatening.

"He didn't say anything mean, just told me stuff." Sam answered vaguely.

"What kind of stuff?"

"He saw the bruises on my side."

I flinched at the reminder of the weekend and how I'd failed Sam. Dad found an angry spirit a couple towns over and we went out to barbeque the thing, but it had managed to do some damage before it was salted and fried.

Dad and I had been digging while Sammy kept watch it'd all been going smooth until we popped open the casket. The bastard showed up out of nowhere, grabbed Sammy from behind and chucked him hard. The kid had managed to get a shot off before he slammed into a head stone, giving Dad enough time to salt and burn the bones. My little brother had been okay, nothing broken, but his ribs were definitely bruised, his entire left side painted purple and black. Dad left to follow a lead almost right after we got back to the motel, only hanging around long enough to double check that Sam hadn't broken any ribs and instruct me to grab the injured boy some ice.

The little squirt spent the rest of the weekend lying in bed as I waited on him hand and foot. I even tried to get him to stay home today, but he'd been pretty insistent on going to school.

I wonder what would have happened if I had told my teacher the full truth when he asked me why I didn't do my homework. The truth being that I had been too busy burning bones and playing nurse maid to my little brother to get my school work finished.

I probably still would have ended up in detention.

I was pulled from my thoughts as Sam continued with his story.

"He said I should watch out, said that one day he showed up with bruises on his arms that weren't half as bad as mine, and the teachers called child services. He got pulled out of class and these people asked him a bunch of questions, then they called his parents and asked them a bunch of questions. By the end of the day he was out of his home, living in a group house with a bunch of other kids. He's still living there, says they won't let him go home to his parents. All cause of some bruises on his arms…" Sam trailed off with a shrug.

I couldn't think of anything to say, chewing the inside of my lip trying to figure out a way to make this better. I wanted to declare the kid a moron, tell Sam that he didn't know shit and that he was bluffing, but that truth was this kid was probably telling the truth. That entire story was the reason we wore pants and long sleeve shirts regardless of the weather; to hide the bruises that we got from some supernatural fugly, because bruises gave teachers ideas, made their imaginations run wild.

I couldn't tell Sam what I really thought, because honestly this whole thing had me fucking terrified, but the little bugger would call any lie I would try and spin. In the midst of trying to come up with some remotely honest and convincing reassurance, something hit me.

"How did this kid see your bruises?"

The absence of a response was very unsettling.

"Sam."

"I fell."

"Bullshit." I called out, reaching over and loosely grasping Sam's chin, pulling it so he was facing me; I've had it with this staring depressingly at the ground crap.

"How did he see your bruises?" I ask again, tone low and serious, releasing my little brother's chin, knowing that he would keep eye contact.

"Him and his friends, they shoved me around a little during recess. I fell back and my shirt rose, Adam caught a glimpse of my bruises and lifted my shirt before I could stop him."

By the end of Sam's story I was pissed, my hands clenched and my entire body tense. I had to turn my face from my brother to try and control my rage.

"Those bastards, I'm going to fucking end them! How many Sam? I need names. Now!" I demanded, fury rising the longer I thought about a bunch of little pricks harassing my already-injured kid brother.

"Relax alright? They stopped when they saw the bruises. Adam said they wouldn't bother me again. I guess they think I'm cool now or something. Besides you need to stay out of trouble."

"I'll do what I have to. Don't worry about me."

"But Dean, don't you get it? If you keep getting into trouble maybe they will find stuff out and see your bruises and then they'll take you away and I'll be alone!" Sam said, voice rising in fear and frustration.

"Sam, I thought we covered this. No one is taking you away, you won't be alone!"

"I know they won't take me, cause you won't let them, but what if they take you? I don't know if I'd be able to stop them." Sam stated, panicking at his newly formed thought.

"Buddy, I'm not going to let them take me away from you! And even if they did you wouldn't be alone, you'd have Dad." I reassured.

"I'd still be alone with Dad." Sam muttered; letting his hair cover his face as his chin fell to his chest.

"What?" I asked, confused about my little brother's latest statement.

"I'd still be alone with Dad, he doesn't listen to me, or pay attention to me… I don't even think he likes me." Sam sniffled.

"Sam." I called, waiting for his eyes to come back to meet mine.

"Dude, dad doesn't listen to anybody and ya, he's too preoccupied most of the time to pay much attention, but Sam he still loves you!" I insisted, needing the kid to understand this.

"I know Dean." Sam confessed quietly, sounding a little bit convincing, "but I'd still feel alone without you. I need you Dean! I know I'm a baby, but I...I just...I need you."

I had to swallow the rising lump in my throat, trying to will away the moisture that was building in my eyes as I stared at the kid in front of me, who was pleading openly and desperately for me to understand how much he needed me.

As if I didn't know. As if I didn't need my little brother more than anything in the word. As if he wasn't the only thing that gave me purpose. As if he wasn't the reason I got up every day and put up with the shit storm our life had become.

"I know Sammy, I need you to. And I am never, ever going to leave you or let anyone take you! You getting me little brother?" I managed to choke out around the obstruction in my windpipe, cupping Sam's face and brushing the hair from his eyes so I could see them clearly and make sure that he believed every fucking word I said.

"Promise?" He whispered earnestly, hazel eyes searching mine for honesty.

"I Promise Sammy." I confirmed genuinely, giving him a moment to find the truth in my expression before I pulled him into my chest for the second time today, careful of his bruised side as I rubbed his back and squeezed the nape of his neck. He wasn't sobbing, which I was glad about, but this kid had a death grip on my shirt as he burrowed his face into my chest.

We sat like that for a shameful amount of time, but I didn't give a damn, because my baby brother was scared.

He'd been sitting on these stupid bleachers terrified that he would be left on his own and it was all my fault. I just had to go and get a bloody detention.

"I'm sorry kiddo." I whispered, letting my chin fall onto his head. I didn't think he heard me, which I was okay with. Personally, I wasn't a huge fan of making apologies.

Sam pulled away from me a second before I was ready to release him, but I reluctantly let him sit back maintaining a loose grip on the nape of his neck underneath all that hair.

"It's not your fault Dean." Sam rasped, killing me with those big loving puppy dog eyes.

"I was late, I didn't call, and I shouldn't have left you to worry like that." I replied, not allowing myself to get sucked into my brother's vortex of complete forgiveness and adoration, knowing I couldn't let myself off that easy.

"You couldn't call."

"How do you know?" I questioned, because of course I couldn't call, that jag-off took my phone, but I never told Sam that.

"Because you would have called if you could have." My little brother replied simply, displaying such complete and total trust in me. God what in the world did I do to deserve this kid?

"Yea well I would have been able to if I didn't get detention. You said it yourself, I should stay out of trouble." I repeated with a smirk, nudging Sam with my elbow, trying to lighten the mood.

He wasn't having any of it.

"It's my fault you got detention." Sam said, staring up at me sorrowfully past his bangs.

"Oh ya, really? Did you tell my teacher to fuck off and then blame it on me or something?" I asked, always baffled with my little brother's ridiculous guilt complex.

"You wouldn't have gotten mad at your teacher if you had your homework done, and if I hadn't have messed up on the hunt you wouldn't have had to take care of me, so you would have had time to do your work and you wouldn't have gotten in to trouble… I'm sorry Dean." Sam finished off quietly, biting his lip as he looked at me, puppy dog eyes on full force.

I sat for a moment, trying to figure out how the hell my brother, probably the most innocent and good intentioned human being I knew, always managed to make everything his fault.

"What the hell Sam?" I spat out, hating when my baby brother did this to himself.

"It won't happen again Dean, I promise! I'll…" He began to assure, misunderstanding my frustration as anger.

"Dude, cut it out. This is not your fault, none of this! Geez kid you can be such a moron sometimes. You didn't screw up on the hunt, you got injured!"

I had to bite my tongue, wanting to tell Sammy that it was my fault he got hurt in the first place. I should have been watching his back. I should have known the spirit would come around once we got close; but I didn't say that because I knew if I blamed myself Sam would do everything to try and remove that blame, and I wasn't letting myself off that easy.

"You got hurt and I took care of you; that's what brother's do, and I know you would do the same for me." I smiled at the earnest nod I received in return.

"You don't get to feel guilty for getting hurt and you sure as hell don't get to feel guilty about me looking after you because that is my choice and it's not your fault I'm such an awesome brother." I said, ending with a smile, hoping desperately to lighten up this mood and be able to move out of chick-flick central.

"Okay Dean." Sam agreed after thinking it over for a few seconds. I studied him for a moment, being sure that he was actually letting this go and not just burying it down inside where it would continue to eat at him. Satisfied that for at least the moment my little brother didn't feel the need to take the blame for all the universe's issues, I gave his neck a final squeeze before letting my hand drop and getting to my feet.

"So what do you say? You about ready to blow this popsicle stand and go to the diner for a bite to eat? That'll give me another chance to try and got that hot waitresses number!" I commented with a wink.

"Yeah, let's go." Sam replied, standing slowly, cringing a little as he straightened out; no doubt feeling the pull on his bruised side.

I studied the kid for a moment, knowing he was probably sore and would rather not go spend a couple hours sitting on a hard bench seat, especially after already having to spend a good chunk of time sitting on these hard bleachers. It took me no time at all to decide between getting the number of the hot waitress with the massive jugs or getting Sammy set up some place comfortable.

"Or how about we just pick up a pizza on the way back to the motel? See if there's any good movies on?" I asked nonchalantly, leading the way back to the Impala.

"There's no hot waitress at the pizza place."

"Ya well, there's always tomorrow, besides I'm craving some meat lovers. What do ya say Sammy?" I asked, placing my arm gently around his shoulders, being reminded again of how fucking small my kid was.

"Yeah, okay sounds good." Sam said with a smile, looking up at me with eyes so full of love and admiration I didn't know whether to gag or cry.

We grabbed a pizza, I even let the my brother pick. Of course he chose hawaiin, the fruitiest pizza around, but I didn't even mock him for it, not this time. We got back to the hotel and I set Sammy up comfortably in my bed so he had a better sight line to the television. We found some old western action movie and watched it as we munched on our pizza, all talked out we ate in relative silence.

Apparently it was an old western marathon because we watched two more movies after that, half way through the third Sammy was sound asleep.

He was curled up on his side, head practically on my thigh, cold feet shoved under my legs. Once I was sure he was sleeping I turned the tv down and pulled out my homework, the crap that had been due today. I really couldn't care less about this shit, but I wasn't about to get another detention and leave my baby brother vulnerable and scared, not again, not ever.

It didn't take me as long to finish, contrary to what most of my teachers believed, I was not a complete idiot. I turned off the tv and checked the salt line before climbing back into my bed. I lifted up Sam's shirt carefully, checking out the bruises on his side. Once I was positive that they were starting to heal I carefully pulled his shirt back into place and covered him with the blanket, checking him over one last time before turning out the light. Laying down I slid one hand under my pillow to grip my knife and place the other one around my little brother.

Sammy is never going to be alone, not ever, and I will spend the rest of my life assuring him of that if I have to.


Note: Thanks for reading! I would love to know what you thought about it, so PLEASE comment/review if you have a spare second. I would really appreciate it. - Sam