Chapter 28: The Pulse Beats

A/N: Good morning, Vietnam! Long time no see, guys! I'm sorry for being late on the schedule, and a relatively short chapter. But, hey, I'll try to post the other one as soon as I can.

First of all, Happy Birthday, Eve-Dn. I hope you have a great day and the best year ever.

Thank you so much KlainebowsHallowsRumbleroar for saving this chapter and mida malek, my girlfriend, for helping me get over my mini block and having such awesome ideas.

The older Winchester brother was usually a very peaceful sleeper. Of course he knew how to stay alert, even during sleep. After all, monsters didn't wait and he had to protect Sammy. Sam, however, had enough tossing and turning to last the whole family. Their father used to joke, back when both boys were teenagers, that Dean would fall asleep and wake up in the exactly same position. It had stood true for all those years, with few exceptions, until that night.

Dean was tossing and turning, completely tangled up in his blanket. The normally content look on his face had been replaced with one of twisted agony. He was sweating profusely, and Sam had to step a foot into the bedroom to hear what his brother was mumbling under his breath.

"Please," Dean moaned, tilting his head to the streak of light by the door, looking as if he was staring right at Sam's shocked face, "N't S'mmy. My fault."

Sam stood there, unsure of what to do. He desperately wanted to do something, but he knew it wouldn't have any effect. Plus, the last time his brother had a nightmare, it had been beyond awkward for a week. He couldn't let that happen again, not after all of the progress they had made with trust and brotherhood. With that thought on his mind, he finally decided to step out, quietly shutting the door.

The younger man headed back to his own room, unable to dismiss the sinking feeling in his stomach.

Dean seemed fine in the morning to Sam; in fact, he seemed better than fine. He was acting very cheery and awake, which was odd, considering he hadn't even made the coffee.

"Morning, Sammy!' the older Winchester exclaimed as his brother walked into the kitchen, "Bacon?"

Sam smiled. See, he's getting better, he thought. If the pills weren't working, he wouldn't be this happy.

The boys spent the entire morning making plans for a party- Dean excitedly and Sam reluctantly. The younger brother really didn't want to celebrate his birthday. After all, too many bad memories came along with them, enough to give him nightmares. But Dean was determined to make May 2nd a good day for once and was dead set on a party.

Sam tuned out most of it, nodding when it felt appropriate. It was easier to let his brother focus on it, since he'd really rather not have one. On his last birthday, he had woken up at 2 a.m. and started crying. He had every right to- he had just lost pretty much the last remaining people that he loved in one horrendous year. Amelia had been concerned, but there was nothing that she could really do about it.

"Sam!" Dean said, snapping his fingers in front of his brother's vacant stare, "I asked you a question."

The younger Winchester shook his head slightly to ward off the bad memories and answered with a firm "Yes."

"That wasn't really a yes or no, kiddo. I asked what kind of cake you wanted," Dean chuckled.

"Uhh, it doesn't matter."

"Are you feeling alright? You seem a little off."

Sam snapped himself out of his daydreams. The cheery look on Dean's face was tainted with worry and the younger Winchester didn't want that to happen.

"Yeah, I'm just… yeah," the younger brother shrugged, hoping that would put Dean's mind at ease. But, he wasn't going to get off the hook that easily. Dean's worried gaze followed him as he exited the room.

It has to get worse to get better, right?

This was the mantra that kept Dean going throughout the day. The pills he had been prescribed were making him feel lousier than before. Plus, they were filling his head with thoughts that he hadn't had in a while.

You're worthless, you know.

The nightmares were the biggest problems. He hadn't had dreams this terrible since he went to Hell. Those were horrible. He could still smell the searing of his own flesh, hear the screams coming from those around him and himself, see Alastair grinning evilly over him. Yet these new ones were more emotionally destroying, and ten times worse because of it.

What's the matter? Gonna crack?

It was always about Sammy. Sam dying, Sam dead, Sam being tortured, Sam going back to demon blood, etc. He would wake up, panting and so twisted in his blankets that he couldn't even fathom how he would get out. Sometimes he couldn't even remember the dreams, and he judged how bad they were by the tear marks on his face. It was enough to drive one mad.

There is one way to make them go away.

So Dean dug himself into planning his little brother's birthday party, working harder at it than he had at most other things recently. After all, it was his fault the kid had had shitty birthdays year in and year out. Deaths and hell… kind of his specialty. God, it made him feel like such crap.

Doesn't it just make you want to-

But this year would be different. It had to be.

Sam slept in that day, since he had barely rested the night before, tossing from side to side, trying to tell himself it was okay, that Dean was doing just fine, sleeping soundly in the other room. Little did he know that the older Winchester was having sleeping troubles of his own. All of a sudden, he felt a tightening in his chest. He remembered those countless nights they'd spent at the motels. He'd just been a kid, not old enough to be embarrassed about hugging his toy airplane to his chest, but too self conscious to get up from his bed and walk those two steps to his brother's bed and feel the safety, comfort and warmth chase away all his fears. Sam wished that it was still like that and he could just tiptoe his way to somewhere and let Dean make the nightmares disappear. He saw the flash of lightening and a rumble soon followed and Sam jumped slightly, hiding himself in his suddenly too cold blanket. Suddenly, he hated his single bed and the fact that he was alone in his room.

Dean hadn't been able to get much rest as he was startled awake from yet another nightmare. He felt tired and at the same time energetic. Either way, sleep wouldn't come. He'd spent most of the night, blaming and beating himself up about Sam's previous birthdays. He hated how he hadn't even tried to be there for his brother's birthday. Dying on the boy's birthday? He had been screwing up beyond compare, pulling a total Dean.

He knew, he deserved to be punished, for letting Sammy down. but today was Sam's day and this year, Dean was to make sure it will be perfect.

Around seven in the morning, with the dawn fast approaching, he had given up on getting more sleep and got up to set the perfect day... for Sam. He called the remaining friends they had, Charlie, Garth, Kevin and prayed to Castiel, reminding them not to be late for the surprise. Then Dean retrieved the cake from its hiding place in the dungeon cellar and went through other things needed for the party, making a list. He made some pancakes and warm milk, going to give Sammy a breakfast in bed.

He was planning to go grocery shopping after feeding the young Winchester, but when he saw how soundly asleep Sam was, he decided against waking his brother up. In a way, it was good that his brother was still asleep. The boy needed his rest for his big day and Dean needed at least an hour to prepare the rest of the celebration. So he settled for putting the tray in beside Sam and got back to the kitchen, writing a note to his brother so he'd know where Dean was. He gathered the keys to his beloved Impala and headed to the store in the nearest town. He was confident he would find everything he needed there.

After taking care of the stuff Dean knew he'd need for decorating the cake and making dinner, he headed towards a small boutique. He knew what he wanted to get for Sammy, and other than the warm fuzzy feeling of pride, he felt a little guilty about it. Deep down he knew the gift was much more than that. It was a message, no matter how selfish it sounded.

A/N: So, what do you think guys? :) Only one chapter is left and after that if you'd like it an epilogue would be posted. I'm so sad to see this story go, but you guys have been amazing and I can't wait to write new stories for you again.