Not Without My Brother

Summary: 1-shot. As Sam struggles to find a way to save his brother from the Mark of Cain's influence, he also must face what he's willing to do in order to save him as well as what Dean expects him to do. *Emotional/worried/angsty!Sam & Stoic but worried/protective/big brother!Dean* SPOILERS!

Warnings: Some minor language, some spoilers but also I'm laying out a tissue warning. It might not need it but I'll put one just in guess.

Tags/Coda: Set after the end 10x18 Book of the Damned.

Spoilers: Probably some.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Author Note: Normally I have a tag or coda to an episode up the night of or day after but this one took a bit longer. It also took some turns I hadn't been expecting.


"'You can do this yourself.'"

"'Yeah, well…maybe I don't want to.'"

"'Hunting is my life but if I have to do it without my brother…I don't want to. I don't…'"

Sam Winchester had fought and struggled to never fall into the life that had destroyed his family. He'd been determined to be the one to break the cycle, to get out, to go to college and make a life for himself outside of hunting.

For four years Sam had thought he'd had that. He'd almost been done with Stanford, had a great girlfriend that he thought he'd loved and was going to apply for Law school. It should've been perfect but even before his older brother broke into his apartment to say those fateful words 'Dad's on a hunting trip' Sam knew something wasn't right.

He'd enjoyed school. He'd enjoyed being normal but he hadn't enjoyed the solitude. He'd made friends at school so he could never say he was lonely but he didn't have close friends. He didn't care for parties or huge gatherings so in some way Sam guessed he hadn't fit in there either.

No one, not even Jessica, knew the truth about him. No one knew why he never spoke of his mother or how she died or why he was estranged from his father. He spoke about his brother but only in general terms since Sam knew to be cautious.

In some way he guessed now that he had been getting tired of the lies, of having to watch his every word and of always looking over his shoulder in case he ran into anyone who knew his father or brother because it would be hard to explain some comments they might make to Jessica.

Now as he sat still in the near fully dark room he guessed it was time to be fully honest with himself. School itself was good because it gave him a chance to be normal, to be someone else and to learn about more than just hunting and that life. The things he'd picked up in those four years away from his family had taught him things that he'd applied to the life that he went back into one fateful fall night.

But as Sam thought of it now, Stanford also sucked because while it was what he'd wanted or thought he'd wanted, it only took five minutes on the passenger side of that shiny black 1967 Chevy Impala that had always been more home to Sam than anyplace else to tell him where he belonged but he still had fought it.

He'd fought that pull, that feeling he felt at hunting with his brother mainly because he still hadn't wanted to lose what he'd had so many fights with their Dad over. He'd fought it fully up until a few years ago when he had it driven home what Dean had felt for four years when he'd hunted solo while Sam had been at school.

Between the four months when his brother had been trapped in Hell, to the time he'd been trapped in Purgatory to even this last time when Metatron killed him and the damn Mark of Cain brought him back a demon, Sam realized what it was to hunt alone, to be alone, to not have the older brother he had grown up looking up to and still did.

Now as he watches Dean battle the Mark that was still on his arm, as their chances to remove it before it totally destroys Dean once again get slimmer and slimmer and Sam's hopes of saving his brother also get slimmer he's finally come to the conclusion that hunting has always been his life…but he won't do it without Dean beside him.

Sam's choices were taking him down a rocky and dangerous road but he was at the point where he didn't care. He'd do and make deals with who he had to if it meant saving Dean.

He had hoped when he told Dean during those painful moments before he died that he'd lied about just letting him go, about not fighting for him like Dean had so many times for him that his brother had believed him. Dean's question in the cabin if he meant his more recent comments told the younger Winchester that he still felt some anger at the things Sam had said while angry over Dean tricking him with Gadreel.

Sam hadn't meant he wouldn't fight for Dean. Hell, he wasn't sure what he'd meant back then. He'd still been hurt, confused and guilty of Kevin so the bitterness between him and Dean had mostly been because both brothers were hurt, upset, and fighting to find the bond that had always been between them.

He thought they were close to finding that bond again and Sam was determined to not let some goddamn ancient curse or tattoo take his brother away from him. He'd find a way even if it meant working with Crowley's mother or if that didn't work then Sam had one more option but he was seriously praying it didn't come to that.

The last resort option as he was calling it would hurt but if losing himself meant saving Dean then he'd do it because either way, Sam would rather be dead or unfeeling if he couldn't save Dean from what would ultimately come.

Sam couldn't handle locking his brother back down in the dungeon and he didn't think transfusions would work because he wasn't sure and he didn't think Dean knew for sure what the Mark was doing to him this time. He also didn't want to know if the First Blade could kill his brother because if anyone tried that then they'd better kill him first because Sam would fry the asshole in Holy Oil rather than have to watch Dean die…again.

"This is sort of…creepy."

The rough with sleep voice that spoke had Sam jumping from where he'd been sitting across from his brother's bed. He hadn't intended to sit down or stay after he'd come to just make sure Dean was sleeping alright and not tense like he was on nights when he'd have nightmares that woke Sam up as well as scared him since he wasn't used to his older brother having nightmares except right after Hell.

"What's up, Sammy?" Dean pushed himself up to flip on the light beside the bed to stare at his brother. "Huh," he grunted as he took in the pale face and the way Sam hastily slashed at his face when the light came on. "You want to tell me what else besides the obvious had you moping earlier in the kitchen or why you're sitting in here in the dark watching me sleep?" he asked even though Dean suspected he knew before Sam shook his head and went to stand up. "You know I'm going to fight this for as long as I can, right?"

"Yeah, it's what happens when you stop fighting or when our last options fail that scares me," Sam admitted as he placed the chair he'd been sitting in back where it belonged but was careful to keep his eyes away from his brother's because his emotions were suddenly raw and he knew the long time rules still applied. "Y'know when I said that one night in the kitchen that I wouldn't make the same choices as you did? You do know that was a lie, right?" he paused by the door with his back still to Dean, feeling his eyes blur with tears he did not want to shed in front of his older brother. "I will do whatever I have to to save you. I'm not failing you again. I'm not letting some stupid curse take you. I…I'm sorry I woke you. I'll…"

A hand caught the door and pushed it shut. "Look at me," Dean ordered and knew even before Sam turned and he was hit full force with his little brother's wet sad eyes that he'd be tossing his age-old no chick flick moments rule out the proverbial window.

Dean had heard Sam say he lied when he was trying to get him out of that warehouse. It had relieved some of his guilt so Dean thought he could die knowing Sam didn't hate him for saving his life even if he had tricked him into coming back for maybe selfish reasons.

There were moments when Dean's mouth worked before his head and when he'd tossed that at Sam in that cabin had been one of those moments. He was getting to the point where it was becoming clearer that there was no way to remove the Mark which meant that sooner rather than later they were going to have to face some hard choices. And that meant having to let go one way or another.

"I will fight this until there's no more fight left or until I feel like I'm becoming a threat to you," Dean caught Sam's shoulders to push him back against the door, pinning him there when he felt him try to broke the hold as a way to not have this conversation. "Listen to me, Sammy. There are two things left in my life that I will not risk: the Impala and you.

"I remember you saying to me in the dungeon that we don't get to quit in this family and I'm not quitting. I will fight for as long as it's safe for you that I do. The goddamn moment that you see my eyes flash any color not green or I turn on you, you lock my ass down in that dungeon and throw away the key. Take the Impala, get out of here and then let Castiel bring this whole damn place down on my head," he saw the realization hit the moment when Sam started to shake his head negatively.

"No, no, I won't let you die," Sam said, voice breaking with tears he still fought to hold back but knew he was losing that battle even before Dean's lips curved into the one damn smile that never failed to break Sam's heart. It was his realistic one that he'd only seen a few times in their lives.

Dean looked at his brother fully and still wondered how their lives would have turned out if he had just left Sam alone 10 years ago; if he hadn't been so dame lonely and selfish and wanted his brother back if maybe Sam's life would've been better or if the assholes who'd been behind everything still would've found a way to bring it to this point where once again Sam was facing watching him die or turn into everything they'd been taught to hunt.

"If it comes to that point, I'll already be gone, little brother," he told Sam quietly and then waited to the count of three before he had his arms full of shaking and pure emotional little brother as Dean suspected he would.

Normally he would have joked or made some snarky comment to break the moment but given that he wasn't sure how many more moments they might have like this and Dean wouldn't take this time away from Sam or himself if he was honest with himself.

"There will be no bringing me back this time, Sammy," he said after a moment of silence once he'd felt some of the shudders going through Sam's shoulders start to slow down. "I will not hurt you. I will not let what I become to hurt the only family I have left so if it can't be removed and I go darkside and I can't be killed by even the blade then I'd rather a mountain be brought down on my head. It might not kill me but I won't be able to kill you because that is what this damn Mark will want me to do."

"That's what Cain told you, isn't it?" Sam had known something had transpired between his brother and Cain that night in the barn but hadn't pushed. He'd suspected more by Dean's nightmares.

Dean realized he might've said too much but he guessed it was better for Sam to hear it from him than anyone else. "Y'know, the usual destiny crap," he tried to shrug it off with a laugh but this time there was no humor in his laugh or his eyes as he looked into Sam's eyes to see the same burning determination he'd seen so often as well as heartbreaking loss. "I will not hurt you, Sammy. I swore on Mom's grave and the night we burned Dad's body that I'd look out for my pain in the ass little brother for as long as I could.

"Well, I sucked at that sometimes and you're not so little these days but the promise still holds. I will protect you from angels, demons, stupid witches…and from myself," he paused as he stepped back to offer the same smile he had before turning the tables on that dick Zachariah. "I know not to tell you to let me go because I don't think either of us are capable of that…but…I am telling you that if I go dark you stay the hell away from me unless you're damn sure whatever plan you cook up will work because if I snap back to myself only to find out that I've hurt or…killed you…I won't be alive long because I'll off myself right after."

Sam understood that feeling only too well because that also was an option he'd considered briefly but felt that sank a little too close to giving up and he wasn't giving up on Dean until he had no choice.

"We'll stop this before that happens," he said shakily and just had to hope the damn witch kept her end of the bargain not that he wasn't suspecting a double-cross sooner or later. He'd learned his lesson when dealing with the other side to always be ready for a knife in his back and his deal with Rowena just screamed double-cross.

"I know we will, Sammy," Dean smiled a little more while lifting his eyebrows curiously. "You want to crash in here like we used to since we both know you aren't going to sleep yet or go see what the new bosom buddies are up to."

Sam was tempted to take his brother up on that offer but he wasn't ready to sleep yet. He had more research to do before he slept so he shook his head and released a shaky breath. "No, I…I want to go try to check into more lore and…Charlie asked him about Heaven so that's not a conversation I'm interested in. I'm sorry I woke you, Dean."

"Hey, that's what awesome big brothers are for, kiddo," Dean wished Sam's smile was more relaxed but they both knew there'd be very little humor in their lives for the next little while. It was that reason that Dean made his next move when he caught Sam's arm as he started to turn and tugged him forward into a tight hug. "I love you, little brother and I'm still proud of us."

The times when his stoic and anti-chick flick moments brother said those words to him were still rare so to hear them now nearly made Sam break again but he managed to hold back a broken sob as he returned the hug tightly and when it was held for several moments he took it before slowly easing back after whispering the words back.

"G'night, Dean," he said before pulling the door shut and headed back down the hall with the intention of going to the library but found himself turning to go into another part of bunker.

The dungeon was not a favorite of Sam's anyway but since he'd been forced to lock his brother down here it was even less so.

He picked up one of the cuffs to hold it in his shaking hands before suddenly whirling to hurl it across the room as suddenly all of the emotions he'd been holding inside broke free and by the time Sam came back to himself he saw that he'd down a number of the shelves in this part of the dungeon and was slumped against the back all in tears.

"I am not losing him," he said to the empty room, reaching into his pocket to pull out one tiny item he'd kept on him since retrieving it from a motel trashcan to clench it in his hand. "I am not doing this without my brother. I will save him or die trying but I will save him."

The End