a/n: hi everyone! I know I've been really absent lately and haven't been posting a lot but I've been having some pretty big writers block, as well as being busy with personal stuff. The idea for this fic popped into my head a while back and I started it but never really got around to finishing it until now. I hope I'll get back into writing more often soon but we'll see :) Hope you enjoy!


Sam woke up to the sound of his name.

He immediately recognized the voice as his brother's. After all, when you've spent more than twenty years listening to him say it in millions of different ways, you find that it's easy to identify. And Sam's heard every possible pronunciation of his name from his brother, whether it be happiness, annoyance, worry, fear, relief, or reassurance. He's heard it all.

Which was why when his name flew out of Dean's mouth in a horrified gasp, Sam knew something was wrong.

Well, more wrong than it already was. Because how could anything not be, when Dean's caught a little something called ghost sickness and was due to die in T-minus 7 hours. Only one month, one week, and two days after hell. After Sam finally had his brother back. And it wasn't fair. Sam had thought - no, he had hoped - that he'd have more time with his brother. More time to simply enjoy Dean's presence again. To savor it. To commit the smiles and laughs and smirks to memory, just in case he was taken from Sam again.

But the ghost sickness stripped that away. The years Sam was looking forward to spending with Dean had dwindled down to mere hours.

No.

He wouldn't think about that now.

He had to focus on helping Dean.

But that would've been easier if Sam knew what it was that he should be helping Dean with. Because Sam didn't know what was wrong.

"Dean?" he tried, sitting up in bed. "Is everything okay?" It obviously wasn't, but he had to try to get an answer out of Dean before acting.

But Dean didn't answer. If anything, his face got paler and his eyes widened even more. He choked out another "Sammy?" before scrambling out of the bed covers. His eyes seemed to be glued to the spot where Sam's head had been resting on the pillow just moments before.

"Dean?" Sam tried again, but instead of getting a normal response, Dean started moving backwards on the bed, as if trying to get as far away from Sam as possible. His mouth was moving, at first too fast for Sam to decipher what it was that he was saying, but then the words increased in volume. Sam realized that Dean was repeating a litany of "No, no, no, no, no,"s and his heart sank. Dean must be having another hallucination.

What was it this time?

It didn't matter. He had to get Dean to calm down.

Throwing his covers aside, Sam climbed out of his own bed and leaned over Dean's. "Dean? Dean, you're okay. You're fine, man. Look at me." But Dean wasn't having any of that. The "no"s just got louder and louder and then his hands were in his hair, pulling at the short strands. Oh god, what was it that he was seeing? His reaction was worse than before, much worse. And that was saying something, since the last time Dean had one of his ghost sickness hallucinations where Sam had apparently wanted him back in Hell, he had almost choked himself to death on the air he had been breathing.

"Dean, look at me." Sam desperately tried to get his brother to listen. "You're okay, Dean. Everything is fine, you hear me? Dean? Please man, snap out of it." But Dean was only getting worse. A high pitched keening noise was now ripping its way out of Dean's throat and Sam's heart broke at the sound. Dean's hands pulled at his hair with increased vigor, his eyes still wide and horrified, staring at Sam's bed.

Sam had to get him to stop.

Taking a deep breath, Sam reached across the bed and took Dean's wrists into his hands, trying to pull them away from his head. A pair of green eyes snapped to him. Dean went feral, snarling at him and twisting himself out of Sam's grip. "You killed him!" Dean's voice reached the point of screaming as he scrambled away from Sam, getting tangled in the bed covers. A voice in the back of Sam's head whispered that if he couldn't get Dean to quiet down, one of their neighbors would surely call the police. "You killed him, you son of a bitch!"

Oh.

Oh.

Dean thought that Sam was dead.

Well this certainly complicated things.

"Dean! Dean, I'm okay. I'm right here, man." Sam leaned closer, trying to get his brother to understand that he was alive and breathing. Dean just fought harder, swinging at Sam's head, trying to land a punch. Sam ducked, narrowly avoiding getting knocked out. "Please, Dean! It's not real, none of it is real." Sam was attempting to talk Dean out of his hysteria, protecting his head from being bashed in, and at the same time trying to catch Dean's flailing arms. And he was failing miserably.

"I'll kill you for this, you black-eyed bastard!" Dean growled, baring his teeth. Instead of punches, he was now trying to claw at Sam's face. Great. Just great. Dean thought that he was a demon.

Sam made a split second decision and leapt onto the bed, manhandling Dean onto his back and then settling his weight on top of him. Dean writhed and snarled but could not move, and for once in his life Sam was thankful that he was bigger than his older brother.

Dean's arms were still clawing at Sam, but now it was easier to stop them and soon Sam had them both pinned to the bed. He leant forward, trying to get his brother to look at him.

"Dean, listen to me. I'm right here, you hear me? Right here. I'm alive, I'm okay. And so are you." Dean's head turned away towards Sam's empty bed and his previously furious eyes now glistened with unshed tears. Dean really still thought that Sam was dead. Sam, who felt utterly helpless.

Sam was sick of it. That feeling of helplessness that has been his constant companion for the last few months. He couldn't get Dean out of his deal, he couldn't find a way to get Dean out of Hell, he couldn't figure out who had actually done what he couldn't when Dean got back, and now he couldn't find a way to calm his brother down. To comfort him.

But damn him if he would let that stop him from trying.

"Dean!" His brother flinched at the John-like tone Sam used. Sam didn't have time to feel guilty. "Goddammit Dean, look at me right now." And Dean, never being able to refuse a direct order, obeyed, hands still straining to get out of Sam's grip.

His eyes locked onto Sam's, who leaned down even further, so far that their noses were almost touching.

"Dean, listen to me. It's not real, okay? I'm not dead. I'm right here, and I'm not going anywhere. It's the ghost sickness, it's making you see things that aren't there." Dean's eyes darted again to Sam's bed, but returned back to Sam moments later. "Whatever you're seeing there isn't real, Dean. I promise. But you know what is real?" Sam kept his grip on Dean's wrist and brought both of their hands up, laying Dean's palm flat against his chest. He wondered if Dean could feel Sam's racing heartbeat through the thin fabric of his shirt. "I'm real, Dean. Feel that? That's me, Sammy, alive and healthy." And Sam used his brother's nickname for him, hoping it would help calm his brother down. "Please trust me, Dean. Please."

And slowly Dean's eyes began to clear, his straining arms and torso relaxing. Sam didn't let himself ease up, though. Not until he knew Dean was fully calmed down.

"Sammy?"

It was said in a whisper, as if Dean was scared that what he was seeing now was a trick.

"Yeah, Dean. It's me."

The amount of relief that rushed into Dean's face almost had Sam sobbing. Dean was okay. Dean recognized him. Everything was going to be fine.

"Sammy." Dean breathed his younger brother's name again. "You're alive." His eyes then flickered down and his eyes widened. "And you're sitting on me."

Sam let out a breathless laugh and finally relaxed his own body, leaning forward the remainder of the way and letting his forehead rest on top of Dean's. He breathed deeper now, more relieved than he could say at the fact that Dean was now back to normal. Or, as normal as he could be considering the circumstances.

"Dude, seriously, do I look like a loveseat to you? You're squishing me into a fricking pancake."

Sam smiled softly and clambered off of his brother, knowing that Dean was using humor as a defense mechanism again, not wanting Sam to see how badly he had been shaken up. Dean was blushing, but his eyes still held traces of that initial fear they had when Sam first woke up. Sam didn't push it, though. God knew Dean had enough to deal with at the moment.

"You gonna be okay?" Sam asked softly, admittedly reluctant to go back to his own bed. What if something else happened to Dean while Sam was sleeping but Sam wouldn't wake up? He didn't know if he could risk that. Sam shuddered to think at what would have happened if he hadn't woken up when he did this time.

Dean nodded, face still red and eyes still wide, and settled back into his covers, turning to face away from Sam. Sam sighed and got into his own bed, not trusting himself to go to sleep in fear of missing something.

It was a good thing, too, because not half an hour later Dean was mumbling Sam's name and tossing and turning in his sleep, eyes scrunched shut and an expression of pain etched onto his face.

Sam was immediately out of his own bed and whispering his brother's name as he tried to shake Dean awake. This time it was easier to get his brother to calm down. Dean's eyes had opened right away and Sam's heart had almost broken at the look on Dean's face.

There was no way they'd both be able to sleep if this kept going. So, steeling himself against the teasing that was sure to come, Sam took a deep breath and crawled into the bed next to Dean.

Sure enough, Dean balked and moved away, hissing, "Sam! What the hell do you think you're doing? Just cause I'm acting like a scared little girl doesn't mean you get to act like one, too." He schooled his features into a glare pointed at his brother. "Get out of my bed."

"No." Sam said simply, making himself comfortable under Dean's incredulous gaze. "You know as well as I do that this will help you. So shut up and go to sleep."

Dean was silent for a while but then gave up, murmuring something about how Hollywood might as well make a chick flick movie about them now. He layed back down, scooching as far away from Sam as the bed allowed.

Sam huffed out a breath. Now he just had to find a way to convince Dean to let him keep a hand on his older brother's back as he slept. It had always helped them when they were kids. Any time either of them had been sick or tired or hurt, the other would help them fall asleep by rubbing the other's back, an equal sign of 'I'm here for you' and 'You're safe'. Except now they were older, and Dean had a strict No Chick Flicks Law Enforcement thing going on, making it nearly impossible for Sam to do anything without being shut down or deemed a 'girl'.

But Dean needed the contact. Tonight especially. Sam just had to figure out-

The quiet around them was broken by a car alarm and suddenly Sam found himself with an armful of Dean, who had been scared senseless by the noise. And in the blink of an eye Dean now had his arms wrapped around Sam's waist and his face buried into Sam's chest.

Getting over his initial shock, it didn't take long for Sam to bring his own arms around Dean, resting one on the back of his brother's neck while the other started rubbing Dean's back in soothing motions. Sam smiled. But not an I'll-hold-this-over-your-head-for-the-rest-of-your-life smile. No, this one was in relief. In reassurance. Because now he finally had a chance to make his brother feel better. He could be the one to take care of Dean for once.

Dean mumbled something into Sam's shirt, but it was too soft for Sam to pick up. He ducked his head closer to Dean's. "What?"

Dean hesitated before repeating, "I thought you were dead."

Sam tensed a bit. He hadn't expected Dean to talk about it. He had expected Dean to shrug it off as he usually did, to deny that he was being chick-flicky by choice. But not talk about his feelings. Never that.

"Yeah, Dean. I know."

Dean continued his unexpected streak and kept talking, his voice barely above a whisper. "No, Sam. You don't." He took a deep breath, voice wavering. "I thought you were dead. After everything I did to keep you alive, after all those years of looking after you, after I made that damned deal. Everything. It was all for nothing. I failed. I failed dad. I failed you. I couldn't keep you safe, no matter how hard I tried." Dean's voice cracked. "I tried so hard but it was all for nothing."

"Dean, hey man, look at me," Sam tried. Dean's eyes rose to meet his. "You didn't fail, you got that? I'm right here. I'm alive. I'm not going anywhere, okay? And neither are you. We'll find a way to cure the ghost sickness. I promise. But you didn't fail dad. You didn't fail me." Sam's voice dropped so low, he didn't think Dean would be able to hear him. "You've never failed me. And you never will."

There was a moment of silence where the only thing Sam heard was Dean's deep breaths and the faraway sounds of cars. Then Dean spoke. "But what if we can't?"

"We will." Sam vowed. "Trust me, Dean. We will."

Another few seconds of silence.

"I do trust you, Sammy."

"Good. And it's Sam." That earned him a soft jab in the ribs and he chuckled, wrapping his arms tighter around his brother and resting his chin on Dean's head. The short hair felt nice against Sam's face and he inhaled deeply, taking in the smell that was just oh so Dean. The smell of home.

Soon Dean was asleep, lightly snoring into Sam's chest. He looked so peaceful in his sleep. So vulnerable. And Sam wouldn't let anything happen to him. He would fight tooth and nail to keep Dean from leaving him again. He would go to the ends of the earth to make sure Dean was safe and alive and happy.

Dean wouldn't die, not so soon after Sam got him back. Sam wouldn't let him. Sam couldn't let him. Not after those months and months after Dean went to Hell where Sam didn't know which way was up and which was down. Not after Sam had experienced a life on Earth that was a living breathing nightmare.

No, Sam refused to go through that again. Even if it was the last thing he did, he'd save his brother.

Pressing a soft kiss to the top of Dean's head, Sam too then fell asleep, lulled by the feeling of their hearts beating as one.


Hope you enjoyed!

The title is from Alice Cooper's song "Welcome to my Nightmare"

Comments make me happy :D