Chapter One

Disclaimer: These are kind of insulting, aren't they? If they were mine you'd be watching my stuff on TV instead of reading it on the internet.

Author's Note: This does take place after "Skins," but other than a quick reference, it doesn't really matter. I've never been a huge fan of first person, but… here we are. There's a handful of swearing, but if you've ever watched a movie, you've heard it. All reviews, good, bad and ugly are most welcome. These are Sam's thoughts.

Summary: Thoughts while driving into the mountains.

He thinks I'm sleeping – such is an illusion I have absolutely no intention of shattering. All I have to do to allow him to relax somewhat is keep my eyes closed… and ensure I stay awake.

If I sleep, the nightmares will return and he'll worry.

If I refuse to sleep, like I want to, he'll know I'm still having the nightmares and he'll worry.

But if he thinks I'm sleeping peacefully, and I can stay awake without his knowledge, we both win… mostly.

We've been climbing steadily for some time now, Dean taking the corners of the narrow mountain road far more slowly and carefully than he usually would. I know such is for my benefit; he doesn't want me tossed around in the seat lest I 'wake.'

He glances over at me, making sure I'm all right. I never realized how often he checked up on me– has it been like this since we were kids?

Dean turns back to the road, guiding his baby through another curve, tapping his fingers along to the Metallica tune piping from the stereo.

I barely hear Dean's music anymore. I don't hate it nearly so much as I love teasing him about it. Though, I did notice he turned it down as soon as he thought I was drifting off.

The air's getting colder as we climb and I tug my jacket tighter, careful to ensure the motion seems subconscious.

Dean reaches over, cranking the heat. It's such a simple gesture, but one he would never have done had I been 'awake.'

You learn a lot when everyone thinks you're sleeping.

I've already discovered how often Dean checks on me; that he seems to think I'm about to slip through his fingers and be lost. I suppose that's fair; I already left once and I haven't exactly been myself since I've been back.

I also found out he's been taking some kind of pills, keeping the bottle in his pocket that I won't find them. We never stop at a pharmacy, so they can't be prescription…

But I wasn't the only bright one in the family… and chemistry was always Dean's specialty.

Frankly, I don't know which scares me more: that Dean's taking some kind of medication he doesn't want me to know about, or that he's making himself some kind of drug he doesn't want me to know about.

Either way, I desperately want to corner him and demand to know what's going on… But I haven't been able to think of a way to do it without admitting that I'm not sleeping.

And I've learned Dean has his nightmares too. Not every night like I do, but sporadically; though it seems always to be the same.

He'll never admit to it. He'd never admit to anything that troubles him.

But that's Dean. He's always been that way.

He's the rock; nothing fazes him. He just brushes everything off and moves on. I've come to realize how much I need just that: his constant calm collectedness, his strength.

I wonder sometimes if it's hard for him never to let his guard down, to never allow a weakness… But I know he'd have it no other way.

Dean skips the song, checking on me again and I can see the worry in his eyes through my lashes. He's protected me since before I can remember… I hate how much harder I've made it for him as I've grown older.

I went to him for everything when I was young… When I was scared, sad, angry… He kissed away cuts and bruises, chased away things that went bump in the night – both real and imaginary. I cried into his shoulder, held his hand… And Dean always made everything all better.

But as I grew older, it stopped being appropriate for me to crawl under the covers with him or to cling to his waist. And I picked up the Winchester traits: stubbornness, pride…

So I started keeping everything to myself. I refused to let him call me 'Sammy.' I left…

I used to run to him for everything. Now… Now I have my secrets.

But I still count on him to make everything all better… Even if that isn't fair.

Dean sighs and I bite my tongue hard, reminding myself that I'm supposed to be asleep.

I want to tell him about Jess; I want to tell him everything. He wants to know… I'm sure he'll listen… He probably won't even give me grief for instigating a 'chick-flick moment.'

But, shit, what if he blames me? What if he tells me there was something I could have done? I couldn't handle it if Dean thought I was responsible for her death.

What else does he blame me for?

That damned shape shifter… We've put our demons from that one behind us – I can be around Dean without expecting him to strangle the life out of me and he knows I'm not afraid of him. But the questions, the doubt, remain.

I wish I could just look at him and know everything it said was bullshit, that it was simply tormenting me, that it twisted the stolen thoughts and memories into something dark and perverted.

But Dean is so damn good at hiding how he feels.

I peek out through mostly closed eyes, watching him pinch his brow tightly. Dean rolls his shoulders working his way around a campervan.

He's been driving too long. I want to pretend to wake up and offer to take a turn at the wheel, but I know he'll refuse.

He'll smirk and tell me no one else is going to drive his car; probably make some crack about my crashing it through a house. But I know the truth of it in Dean's mind: his Sammy comes first. Sammy needs to rest and, dammit, Sammy is going to… No matter how little sleep Dean actually got the night before, no matter the nightmare he won't admit to.

I shift slightly to relieve a cramp in my leg, Dean's concerned gaze falling on me again. You'd think I was made of glass…

But I can't be angry with him for 'babying' him. He doesn't really… He trusts me, lets me stand on my own… But damned if he's going to let anything happen to me.

He's been my protector since before I was born. I may not be a little kid anymore, but I'm still his little brother.

And he's still my big brother.

He won't kiss away scrapes and bruises, but he'll treat them. He won't let me crawl under his blankets, but he'll sit up all night with me if I can't sleep and need company.

I can still go to him for anything, still count on him to chase away monsters in the night.

He'll make everything all better.

I'd die for him, but he'd never let me.

I hear the windshield wipers come on, though whether against rain or snow, I can't tell. Dean continues doggedly through hairpin bends, humming absently.

What a pair we make. Neither of us really sleep, and we dream horrible things when we do. We can't really trust anyone, save each other, yet we keep such secrets. We insist we're fine and we know we're both lying.

Just a pair of freaks on another deserted highway.

I smirk despite myself and hope Dean didn't notice. I haven't been 'asleep' long enough to assuage his troubles.

He worries about me more than he needs to. But that's my brother… My short-tempered, hot-headed, impatient, curt brother.

He destroyed my chance at a normal life. Gave me everything, took everything away and gave it all back.

It's because of him that I'm hunting again. It's his fault my head is full of even more fucked up stuff than it was before.

He can be rude, callous and cold… a down right asshole when he wants to be.

And damn how I love him

He checks on me again and I know he loves me too.

He'll never say it. In truth, I don't really want him to; it would spoil that calm and solid demeanor I need so badly.

Besides, I know without hearing the words. I know every time he calls me 'Sammy,' every time he slugs me in the arm, every time he shoots some horrible thing off of me.

Every time he assures me that we'll find Dad, though I'm not sure he believes it anymore…

And the road isn't as lonely as it might have been.