A/N: So I'm a littled hooked on Supernatural. I can't get enough of it. One of the best shows I've seen in a while. More like a collection of movies than an hour long drama.

Anyways, I watched Asylum for the first time since it was aired a couple of days ago, and a few things occured to me. When the blond girl (whose name I've forgotten) shoots at Dean, the rock salt takes chunks out of the concrete wall. And that was from a distance of ten or fifteen feet. When Sam shoots Dean, he's probably not even three feet away. My rational for this story is that anything that can damage concrete from fifteen feet would wreak havoc on someone's chest from three feet. I hope everyone enjoys this, because I actually have it planned out, rather than my usual 'fly by the seat of my pants' procedure.

Also, anyone who would be interested in doing some beta-ing, please drop me a line. I would greatly appreciate it.

The tension in the Impala is thick enough to cut with a knife.

The heavy weight of a half-assed apology hangs between them, but neither will acknowledge it. Even the radio is uncharacteristically silent.

Dean drives with a sort of reckless abandon that might've been mistaken for anger, if not for the lines around his eyes and mouth. He throws the classic car into a left-handed turn, all four tires squealing in protest and the left hand side nearly lifting off the road. Sam clutches the granny handle above his window, but doesn't otherwise protest. He knows where his complaints will likely be shoved.

Their motel is located ten minutes away from the asylum, and for this Sam is grateful. This kind of driving makes him nervous, when it seems as if Dean is taking out some kind of unexpressed aggression on his car's steering and shock absorbers, rather than the rightful target; his brother, conveniently sitting two feet to his right. Sam wants to talk about this, he knows how unresolved issues can fester, become infected. But with his brother's rather intense aversion to any sort of emotional expression, he knows that is about as likely as Dean trading his Impala in for a minivan.

A chorus of car horns blares at them as Dean cuts off traffic to pull into the motel's parking lot. He stops the car with a lurch, pockets the keys and levers himself out of the drivers seat. Sam watches his brother lurch towards their room, unlock it, and push the door open, leaving it open behind him.

He takes this as a good sign. If Dean were really angry, in the kind of way that Sam has only seen a few times, he would've slammed the door as soon as he was on the other side of it, expecting Sam to spend the night exactly where he's sitting.

Sam waits another few minutes, then grabs the first aid kit before heading inside himself. The door to the bathroom is already closed; Sam can hear the water running inside as Dean heats up the shower. He hesitates briefly before pressing his ear against the door and knocking gently.

"Dean? I got the first aid kit."

He hears a hiss of pain from inside, then a grunt of acknowledgement.

"I'll go get us some dinner, okay?"

Dean doesn't reply, so Sam grabs his wallet off the nightstand, where he left it before they headed to the asylum. He doesn't have a lot of money left, but Dean's taste in food isn't exactly high society, and Sam's not hungry to begin with.

He heads to the diner at the end of the block on foot, stopping at a convenience store to replenish the first aid supplies Dean's certainly using. The cashier gives him a strange look when he dumps three bottles of aspirin, two boxes of gauze and three tubes of antibacterial cream on the counter, but she packs it up in a little plastic bag, and Sam uses half his money to pay for it.

With most of the other half, he gets Dean a root beer, large carton of fries, and a cheeseburger with onions and mustard, but no ketchup. Just the way he likes it. The man behind the counter packs it up carefully, spares Sam the strange look, and sends him on his way with a 'have a good night.'

Sam considers it a supernatural feat of self-control that he didn't snort sarcastically at the man's words.

The lights are already out when he gets back; Dean is buried underneath the comforter of the farthest bed, on his back with his head turned away, holding fistfuls of blanket in both hands. Sam finds something upsetting in the way he's sleeping, or at least pretending to. He looks entirely too vulnerable for the man that goes barreling into bad situations with both guns blazing.

"Dean?" If he is truly asleep, Sam doesn't want to wake him. But he didn't walk around the block and spend his last forty dollars to have the food get cold and congeal. "Dean?"

There's no visible reply, and if he isn't really sleeping he's doing a damn good job of playing.

Sam sets the bag of food down on the night table, in case his brother wakes up hungry in the middle of the night. He keeps the root beer for himself.

In the bathroom, he closes the door behind him before turning on the light. Dean apparently went to great pains to clean up after himself; the first aid kit is resting on the sink's edge, but if Sam didn't know better, he wouldn't have been certain it had been used at all. The area around the shower is dry; his towel is hanging on the towel rack. But the small wicker garbage basket is nearly over flowing with bandage wrappers and bloody gauze. Sam feels the colour drain from his face as he realizes just how much work Dean had to do on himself. He hadn't held any disillusions about the amount of damage a shell full of rock salt fired from a shotgun could do to a person. But Dean himself had been so quick to shrug off the pain that Sam had soon found himself doing the same thing, despite every instinct that was screaming at him not to.

He sees a hint of purplish-gray in the bottom, and reaches inside, past the bloodied gauze and bandages and wrappers. And touches cotton. He pulls out a t-shirt, the same t-shirt Dean had been wearing earlier that day. It's damp, but he stretches it out on the tile, and smoothes it gently with his hands. It's hardly recognizable as a t-shirt any longer. The shotgun blast tore away most of the material, the edges of the holes stained red with blood and white with the residue of the rock salt.

Sam feels his knees go weak, and he falls hard on his ass. If this is what his shirt looks like, Sam thinks, than how much damage did his chest take?

He puts the shirt back in the bottom of the basket. If Dean doesn't want to deal with this, then Sam will indulge him for the time being. He knows that by pushing him, Dean will only clam up, and withdraw so far into himself that Sam will never see him again.

He brushes his teeth with shaking hands.

In the main room, he checks on Dean one more time, spends a few minutes watching his chest and fall with regularity. Once satisfied with his brother's health, he steps out of his jeans, pulls his shirt over his head and climbs into bed.

'Following orders like a good little soldier? Are you that desperate for his approval?'

'I've got a mind of my own. I'm not pathetic, like you.'

The pain in his chest and head is excruciating, but nothing that compares to the pure undiluted hate he can see in his brother's eyes. The twisted expression of loathing seems like it doesn't belong on Sam's face, but his moss green eyes are clear, and Dean knows this is his brother. The words he is throwing like projectiles that hit more painfully and leave scars deeper than bullets belong to no one but Sam. There is no other force, no supernatural presence making his brother say these things. He says them because he believes them, and Dean thinks maybe his inner voice was right all these years. Maybe he isn't worth the bother, the love, that his own loved ones seem reluctant to give him. Maybe this is why everyone ends up leaving him.

Sam produces a gun from somewhere, flicks off the safety, and points it at his brother. Dean wants to say something, wants to beg him not to do it, because a part of him knows that this gun is loaded, and one shot will be enough. The words don't come; his throat has frozen, whether in fear, or sadness he doesn't know.

A figure appears over Sam's shoulder, and Dean immediately recognizes his father. He manages to catch his dad's eye, silently imploring him to step in and save his son.

'But I am saving my son,' Jonathon Winchester says, laying a hand gently, almost reverently on Sam's shoulder. 'All you ever were to me was a soldier to command. And you failed at that, didn't you?'

Sam adjusts the gun in his hands, takes up the shooter's stance that Dean himself taught him so many years ago. A smirk plays across his lips.

'Sorry, big brother. I wish I could say I'll miss you.' And he pulls the trigger.

His eyes snap open, a strangled gasp coming from his lips before he has the presence of mind to clamp it down. His heart is trying to break through his rib cage, battering so hard against the inside of him that he is nearly rocking with the force of it.

The water stained ceiling above him grounds him, helps remind that it's over and done with, the asylum and what happened inside is behind them and forgotten. Except he can't forget. When he presses the heels of his hands against his eyes, the image of his brother's hate filled eyes comes unbidden, as clearly as a photograph taken with a digital camera.

He swings his legs to the side, and lurches awkwardly to a sitting position. Sam is sleeping peacefully in the other bed, snoring softly and looking so comfortable one would never guess he suffered from such horrible nightmares.

A part of Dean wants to wake him up, shake him until he's coherent and paying attention, enough to see how this thing between them is killing him with doubt and self-loathing. He wants Sam to hurt as much as he does, to know the kind of inner turmoil he feels, trying to sort through all the things they have said to each other, and learned about each other in just these six months that the previous eighteen years hadn't taught them.

How much harder is it going to get? He wonders silently, if this is how bad they are after a half a year. Is the cost to them even worth finding their dad? How much of them is Dean willing to spend for the man that left him to begin with, and will probably do again, if given the chance?

He bends forward at the waist, and buries his face in his hands. He's never been a man prone to self-flagellation, but these are hardly ordinary circumstances. In the past, he would cast off these doubting thoughts, and simply move forward, without giving in to the urge to glance in the rear-view mirror. But Sam doesn't let him do that. Sam is the sensitive one, always seeing what Dean wants to hide, always asking about what should remain buried. Always making him face what he'd rather run away from.

He stands, and heads to the bathroom. Unless Sam moved it, the first aid kit should still be sitting on the sink.

The fluorescent light overhead reflects off the white tiling when he flicks it on, and his headache from earlier comes back with a vengeance. Sam's toothbrush is sitting on the ledge above the sink, the only difference Dean can see since he was in earlier. When he was cleaning the wounds on his chest under the shower spray, pounding his fist against the tiled wall so he wouldn't cry out in agony. He'd been hurt pretty bad in the past, but the injuries inflicted by a shotgun at near point blank range, even one loaded with rock salt, rivaled anything he'd had done to himself in the past.

He knocks back a couple of ibuprofen, more than willing to sacrifice a little clarity of thinking in exchange for a good night's sleep.

Back in the main room, Sam snores on. The urge to wake him up has passed, and now Dean can only feel a strange kind of relief that one of them is sleeping soundly. And regardless of how he feels about what happened earlier that day, he knows his brother deserves uninterrupted rest for at least one night.

He lowers himself carefully onto his back, and pulls the covers over his chest. He doesn't want to go back to sleep, to revisit those images like he almost assuredly will. But he's so tired. Weeks spent on the road, hunting and fighting, stumbling around this newfound relationship he and his brother share, have all slowly but steadily drained his energy until he could barely lift his head from the pillow.

He sighs softly, and forces his body to relax against the mattress. In seconds, with the aid of the medication, he's asleep.

Unsurprisingly, it's Sam who wakes up first, to the first light of morning shining in through the curtains, playing with the shadows across his face. He props himself up on his elbows, wiping the sleep from his eyes.

He's so unaccustomed to sleeping soundly that for a minute he thinks he's still dreaming. It wouldn't be unlike his sub-conscious to play such a nasty trick. But the paper bag from the diner is still sitting on the night table between the beds, looking suspiciously untouched with spots of grease showing through the bottom.

He sits up a little straighter, brushing the hair from his face and peering into the next bed. Dean appears to be dead to the world, sleeping in the same position he was when Sam returned the night before.

A part of Sam wants to wake him up, shake him until he's coherent and paying attention, enough to see how this thing between them is killing him with doubt and self-loathing. But regardless of what his brother might think, Sam is painfully aware of the nightmare that had awoken Dean halfway through the night. He woke up to his older brother's panicked breathing, mumbling under his breath. He had watched while Dean had snapped awake, heart racing so fast Sam could see his pulse beating franticly at the base of his neck. It doesn't matter how badly he wants talk about what happened; Sam knows how important even an hour of dreamless sleep can be.

He rises as quietly as he can, moving with the preternatural swiftness and stealth their father taught them at such a young age. He forgoes a shower, deciding that it would be too noisy, and he would rather save the hot water for his brother. He takes a leak, brushes his teeth, and after pulling on jeans, a t-shirt and his running shoes, heads out to pick up some breakfast.

He only has one bill and a handful of change left from his purchases the night before, so he hits the variety store. The selection of fruit isn't half bad for a store on the highway, nestled in between a strip joint and a pet store; he picks up a banana and a granny smith apple, the only types of fruit Dean will eat. A box of chocolate pop tarts, a jug of orange juice, and a tin of instant coffee fill up his basket, and he barely as enough money to cover it.

Back in the motel room, Dean is still asleep, which brings a strange amount of relief to Sam. He knows that as long as his brother remains sleeping, the "Oprah moment" they now both fear cannot take place. As much as Sam wants to rid them of this horrible tension, he is not looking forward to explain to Dean why he said the things he did when he was …possessed by Ellicott's spirit. He already knows Dean doesn't believe that he didn't mean any of it, and due to Dean's own stubbornness (he is, after all, where Sam himself learned to be so tenacious and bull-headed) it will be that much harder to prove otherwise to him.

He quietly unloads the food onto the small table against the far wall, and rather than partake in any of it, decides to refill the first aid kit. He replaces the gauze and bandages that Dean used, and stuffs the new bottles of painkillers he bought earlier into it. It's bulging a little when he's done, but he feels better knowing it's stocked, and is certain Dean will reflect that sentiment.

But once that's done, there's nothing left for him to do. As long as Dean stays stubbornly asleep, there's no one to talk to, no one to bed forgiveness from, or apologize to. So he lies back in his own bed, and flicks the motel room's television on, keeping the volume muted. It's been so long since he's had access to cable that for a good ten minutes, he can do nothing but channel surf until he finally settles on a station dedicated to cartoons. The kind of cartoons he was raised with, he and his brother camping out in different motel rooms eating dinner by the glowing light of the television. He allows his eyes to fall closed, lulled into a sense of peace by memories of the safety he found in his brother's company.