AN: More Winchester musings. This could be platonic or romantic, I'll leave it up to you. Personally, I read it as pre-slash.

Back at the bunker, standing in the kitchen doorway, turning to look at his little brother, an unexpected lump forms in Dean's throat.

"Night, Sammy," he chokes out, high-tailing it for his bedroom because he doesn't want Sam to see him fall apart. He's almost there when his legs go out from under him and he slumps to the floor in the middle of the hallway, gasping for breath.

Sam was dead, Sam had died, he'd been sure of it. His lifeless body on the floor, his soul doomed to be thrown out into the empty. Dean hadn't panicked then, because there was always a way, but he can barely draw breath now, and his chest is squeezing so tight he wonders if he might be having a heart attack, because Sam wasn't dead. Sam was alive. Alive and hurt. Alive and hurt and left all alone. He left. He walked out. Walked out on his little brother. His gut shot, unconscious, helpless little brother. Walked out. Walked away. How could he do that? How could he leave Sam there? Dead or alive? Alive is worse. To leave him alone when he still needed help. How could you? You left him. Left him all alone. Dean? I left him. Walked out when he needed me. Dean? Left him alone to die. Dean? Dean!

He jerks back, then forward, and realises it's Sam, crouched down in front of him, shaking him and saying his name. Sam looks scared.

"Dean? What is it? What's wrong? Left who?"

He frowns at Sam, because isn't it obvious? But Sam still doesn't get it.

"You," Dean tells him, voice raw with pain and shame. "I left you. I shouldn't have. How could I? You needed me. But I left, I left, I left..."

"Hey Dean, it's alright."

He looks into Sam's eyes, no it isn't, he shouldn't have walked out, but somehow Sam doesn't hate him, should but doesn't, and he vows right then that he is never leaving Sam again.

"I left you. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I left you..." he repeats over and over as he pulls Sam into his arms and clings on for dear life. How could have ever even thought about letting Sam go?

Sam clings on too, holds him until he can breathe again, the warm puffs of air on his neck as Sam breathes and the strength his feels in Sam's grip working to calm him. He wishes they could just stay like this forever.

"Come on," Sam says eventually. "Let's get you to bed."

They help each other up and it's only a few steps really until Dean is sitting on his bed, pulling his boots off, trying as hard as he can not to think about Sam bleeding to death on that cold, lonely floor. In the present, Sam sits on the opposite side of the bed, just quietly waiting to see if he's gonna breakdown again.

Dean takes a deep breath, lets it out long and slow, and wills himself to keep it together so he doesn't worry his brother any more than he already has.

"You good?" Sam asks.

"Yeah," he lies, climbing under the covers.

It's when Sam moves to get up, that something squeezes in Dean's chest again, and before he knows it his hand is around Sam's wrist, and he's muttering the words; "please stay."

Luckily for Dean, Sam's worried so he doesn't argue, just throws off his jacket, his boots and his jeans, and climbs under the blankets beside him. It's not the first time they've shared a bed, but it is the first time since they were kids or one of them wasn't physically dying. Although Sam's belly is full of stitches from where he got shot, so there's that. Maybe they can keep an eye on each other.

There's only one pillow so they share it, lying on their sides, facing each other, and for Dean there is no other feeling that comes close to having Sam near, it's the only time he ever truly feels at peace.

He slides his foot between Sam's legs, hooking it behind his calf, and rests one arms over Sam's, just so the soft, smooth skin of their forearms is pressed together. This way if Sam's moves in the night, Dean will know.

xxx

It's pressure, something or someone touching his neck that wakes him. Sam opens his eyes to seen Dean's face in front of his, brows knit in worry.

"What are you doing?" he mumbles at his big brother. "What time is it?" It still feels like the middle of the night.

"Checking your pulse..."

"Dean..." he says, because Dean needs to let it go, but his brother's fingers are still jammed under his jaw, seeking that life-signalling beat.

"Hey, come on," Sam soothes, sliding his hand up to pull Dean's away. "I'm clearly alive. I'm okay."

Despite that obvious fact, Dean still looks unsure, and Sam hates how much he's beating himself up over this. Maybe he screwed up, maybe he didn't, but they've both made so many mistakes that keeping tally became impossible years ago. As long as they both make it home at the end of the day, nothing else matters.

"I need to learn it," Dean counters, reaching out again, but it's all just a stress reaction to a bad hunt. Getting tasered himself and waking up miles from where he hit the ground can't have been easy. For one this it's a surrender of control, and that's not something either of them are remotely comfortable with. Besides, the doctor said the shock from the gunshot wound would have made Sam's pulse nearly impossible to detect, plus Dean had two other people to think about.

Sam grabs Dean's wrist and there's a tense moment, because if there's one thing they both are its stubborn as hell. Dean's not gonna stop until he's satisfied that he's done everything he can, and Sam's not gonna rest until he knows Dean is okay.

Dean flexes his hand, and Sam lets out a sigh. He hates seeing Dean upset like this and wants to do whatever he can to comfort and reassure him. He rolls onto his back, bringing Dean's hand with him, and places it flat against his chest.

"It's stronger here."

Dean gives him a quick glance, maybe surprised by his compliance, then looks down at his hand. Sam watches Dean's face as his brother measures the beat of his heart, the action seeming to calm them both.

"You're not gonna lose me, Dean."

Dean looks up at him, so much in his eyes, and Sam feels it too, how damn terrifying that idea is.

"Not if I can help it," Dean vows, settling down with his ear over Sam's heart, and an arm wrapped around him.

It's nice, being close to Dean like this, being allowed to just bask for a while. Sam closes his eyes and strokes Dean's hair.

"Go to sleep."

This time, neither of them wake until morning.