A/N First of all, a huge THANK YOU goes to Sharlot, the best beta ever! I'd never do it without her!

I don't own them. I wish I did ;)

The story picks up at the end of 9x14 Captives.



It was a little after 2:00 a.m., a strange time for most people to head out, but Sam was sleepless. He'd heard his brother's hollow footsteps ghosting past his door more than once that night, so he decided not to wait until morning. To tell the truth, he was happy he'd found a new hunt so soon. The bunker was by far the largest place the two had ever shared, but it wasn't big enough to contain the both of them as well as the palpable tension that separated them. These past few days weren't easy for him. They probably were no easier for the older Winchester, but right now Sam didn't care. Yes, he'd made the promise, or rather let Kevin force it out of him, but it wasn't like he was lying to their friend – a friend whom he killed. No, he would not venture there again! Deep inside, he wasn't sure if he'd ever be able to get over it. He wanted to, maybe not necessarily forgive and forget, but at least accept what had happened, what his brother had done to him. This wasn't going to happen any time soon, though. The thought of a supernatural being possessing his body, reading his mind, made him sick to his stomach. Maybe Dean had forgotten about Meg, about Lucifer, but Sam never would. Allowing him to experience the hell of being possessed again, this time without Sam even being aware was the worst nightmare he could ever think of. So yeah, right now he didn't care how childish his behavior might have seemed to an outsider or how much his brother was hurt in the process.

He didn't want to think about it another second. He snapped his laptop shut and moved to the door. Grabbing his duffel, he walked down the corridor to Dean's bedroom, ready to wake his brother and move on to the next hunt. Knocking brought no answer, though. He repeated the action, stronger this time, suspecting with a pang of jealousy that his brother might have finally managed to fall asleep. Finally, he reached for the doorknob. To his surprise, the room was empty. The rumpled sheets indicated recent occupation.The heavy smell of sweat only confirmed this. Puzzled, Sam walked inside. Dean's duffel was still there, so he couldn't have been gone far or for long. Both the bathroom and the kitchen had been empty when Sam passed them just a minute earlier. That didn't worry Sam much, though. The bunker provided many more nooks and crannies than the motels they used to hole up in. Sam had no doubt that Dean had found somewhere private to indulge himself, wallowing in self-pity and guilt.

Suddenly, his foot collided with the first aid kit lying open on the floor next to the bed. Sam frowned and knelt down, his eyes falling on the thermometer, the display blinking a temperature of 103.1. A half-empty bottle of painkillers lay next to it. Any anger at Dean evaporating in that instant, Sam jumped up and strode out of the door.

It didn't take long to find his brother. Dean was in the garage, standing in a sort of curled position, as if he was close to sliding down to his knees, one hand grasping his middle, another trying to land the key in the lock.

"Dean, what the hell are you doing?"

"'m go'ng t' th' 'spital..." Dean muttered and finally gave up, groaning, bending down in the obvious pain, and finally throwing up. With sheer luck Sam managed to catch him before he landed in the pool of his own vomit. A hiss of pain accompanied each intake of breath as Sam eased his brother to the ground, leaning him against the car's door.

Dean shook violently, his teeth clattering, heat coming off him in waves. He managed to pull his knees closer to his chest and circle them with his arms. Slowly, his lids began to close and he started tilting to the side. Sam reached out a hand, preventing him from tipping over as a new wave of shivers passed through his brother's body.

"Dean, what's wrong?" The younger Winchester's voice was tight with worry, all previous thoughts instantly forgotten.

"Nothing, 'ammy. 'm fine..." It didn't sound convincing, coming from between Dean's gritted teeth.

"Yeah, I can see," Sam muttered, more to himself than to his brother. "I can see fever and nausea. Can you tell me where it hurts?"

"What the hell do you care!" Dean's voice sounded stronger now, as if he managed to pull himself together after the moment of weakness.

Fair enough, Sam thought, but he didn't dwell on it. "I do care," he answered, trying to stay calm. "It doesn't mean I'm not angry at you anymore, but I do care."

"Fuck off!" The words didn't sound as menacing as they were intended, partially due to Dean's nausea, which chose exactly this moment to come back and torture him some more. Despite the older Winchester's strong will, it was only Sam's muscular arms that stopped him from vomiting all over his trousers.

"How long?" he asked when Dean was sitting straight again, gasping for air, whether from pain or exhaustion, Sam couldn't tell.

"That bad? A few hours," Dean admitted, blinking slowly and slumping further toward the floor, spent and listless.

"And earlier?"

"Yesterday afternoon, I guess."

Sam noticed Dean had stopped shivering. He wasn't sure it was a good sign.

"Where does it hurt?" he repeated the question, even though he already suspected the answer.

"Here." Dean pointed to his abdomen with obedience that both surprised and worried his brother. If Dean willingly offered Sam information about his health, it must have been really bad.

Sam knew they'd eaten exactly the same the previous day, so he suspected it wasn't food poisoning.

"Does it get worse when you raise your right leg?" he asked.

Despite his obvious pain, Dean ceased writhing long enough to raise a brow. "Th'fuck are you on, dude?"

"Just trust me, Dean," Sam insisted.

Instead of answering, Dean huffed out a strained breath and followed his brother's instruction, slowly raising then lowering his leg. He hissed from the pain before he'd gotten it halfway up, confirming Sam's suspicions.

"Crap, I think it's appendicitis. I'm sorry Dean, but we're going to the hospital," Sam decided, struggling to remain calm despite his worry escalating when his brother didn't protest.

"I was on my way when you stopped me," Dean smirked, noticing Sam's concern. With a grimace he held out a shaky hand. "Help me up."

Sam obeyed. It was slow going, though. Every movement drew a hissing gasp of pain from Dean. Not knowing the severity of his brother's condition, Sam found it difficult to shift Dean up and into the car without hurting him worse. By the time Dean was sitting in the passenger seat, both brothers were panting heavily, drenched in sweat.

"S'mmy..." Dean whispered, now too weak to speak up. "Find some bag or s'mthing. I don't wanna..." He vaguely gestured towards his mouth, his intention clear.

"Okay, hold on." Why does this idiot always have to think about his car first? Sam shook his head, then ran up to the kitchen, grabbed an old shopping bag, hoping Dean didn't have much left to vomit, stepped into his bedroom to grab his wallet and a blanket, and hurried back to the garage. Dean hummed in approval when the blanket covered him but he didn't stir.

"Hey, dude, open your eyes! No sleeping till we get there!" Sam gently squeezed his brother's leg.

"Wh't, you're afr'd t' drive on y'r own?" Dean smirked, his voice slurred and barely audible.

"Yeah, watch out or I may scratch your Baby," Sam answered him, forcing a smile to his lips as he put the key into the ignition.

"Try 'n 'll kill ya." Dean's eyes fell shut.

"Hey, Dean, you remember when I had appendicitis?" Sam asked, desperately trying to keep his brother awake while watching the road at the same time. He was driving fast, too fast in fact, but although the road was winding, luckily there wasn't much traffic at this time of night.

"S're. You were sev'n, Dad was gone, I freak'd out," Dean admitted.

"Yeah, you did, but you kept it together. I remember you called an ambulance and held my hand the whole time." Both brothers smiled at the memory.

"N'me," the older Winchester clarified.

"What? I think I remember all the people who ever held my hand."

That was a lame joke, but Dean smiled nevertheless. "I don'ink th're were many."

His brother's eyes were still closed, but as long as he was talking, Sam was fine with this.

"Wasn't me who called the amb'nce. The lan'lady did," Dean continued after taking a long breath.

"But you ran for her when you realized how serious it was. You saved me back then." He really did, Sam realized. Even being a little boy, freaking out at the sight of his little brother crying with pain, Dean managed to keep his fear under control and concentrate on him.

"Yeah," Dean murmured in a strange, disconnected voice that raised Sam's worry to a completely new level.

"Dean?" He called, suddenly not sure if his brother was still fully with him.

"Tell Dad, I'm sorry, S'my..." his brother whispered, his voice barely audible now.

"Dad?" Sam repeated in shock.

"I can't look aft'ya now..." Dean's voice broke, as if it was suddenly hard for him to take a breath. "Call'im. I d'n't wan'ya t'be 'lone... There's s'me pie in the fridge... You can eat it... I don't..." His head lolled to the side, stopping only after it collided with his little brother's shoulder.

"Dean!" Sam yelled, pressing the gas pedal with all his strength. He had never been as happy to see a hospital in his life as he was now.