Disclaimer: Don't own the boys but appreciate being able to borrow them! No money made on my fanciful venture into the SN world.

The world is standing still and if I'm not careful, I might just fall off. Reality is frozen in silence except for the intrusive, relentless sound coming from the clock behind me: tick, tick, tick…… I want to rip that clock off the wall and hurl it with all my strength, except that I'm frozen too……

"Sam. Sam!" It's Dean's voice that brings me back from the far reaches of where my mind has fled. He sounds concerned; how can he worry about me right now? I refocus and see the sympathetic face of the doctor-what is his name again? Oh, that's right: Dr. Hatari. I look at Dean, who gives me his best cocky eat-shit-ain't-life-a-grand-old-bitch grin. Only it seems incongruous with that horrid hospital gown and the white sheets that remind me of a shroud. But I need to stay strong, for both of us, and I try to smile back. Dean's grin falters and I realize he sees right through me. He's always done been able to do that, ever since we were kids.

Dr. Hatari clears his throat; he has to finish giving us the bad news and he looks as if he wishes he were somewhere else. Maybe this is one of those days he regrets not becoming a banker like his old man, instead of dealing with the tragedy of those dying too young. "Based on the severity of the injury, I'd say a few months at most. That is, barring any unusual stress or activity that would further weaken the heart muscles. I'll submit your name to the national data base for possible transplant but there's no guarantee that one can be found in time. It's worth a try, though." He pauses and then adds with a sigh, "I'm truly sorry."

Dean's face is a study in impassivity as he nods understanding but says nothing. He must be screaming inside, though. I know I am. Screaming myself hoarse, the sound trapped within the confines of my mind.

The doctor's pager goes off and he excuses himself, promising to come back later. After he leaves, silence blankets the room and again, all I can hear is the clock ticking the minutes away from Dean's life. "This isn't happening," I say, my voice cracking with disbelief. "None of this is real." I start to pace nervously, feeling trapped in this place of defeat and death.

"Sam, it's okay." Dean tries to reassure me but the suppressed tremor in his voice cuts more deeply than any knife. My big, invincible brother is afraid and it tears me up inside. "It's not your fault this happened and it's not your responsibility to fix it. You can't. I'm going to die and you can't stop it."

"Somehow, that doesn't make me feel any better." I try to keep the bitterness from my voice. "I can't just sit here and accept this. I'll find a way, Dean. There's got to be a way." I sink into the chair where I have kept vigil for the past two days and fury over the injustice of it all grows. God couldn't be so cruel as to let my brother die. We've already lost so much. Wouldn't the lives we saved help balance the scales? I silently rage against the powers of the universe, hating the destiny that would take my brother away from his family and away from the life he still has to lead. It's not fair and I just won't let it happen.

When the quiet permeates my internal ranting, I realize that Dean is sleeping, the circles under his eyes vivid and black and accusing. I watch over him for hours, willing him to fight and survive this new enemy. Dean stirs slightly and I adjust the blanket over him. Without his overbearingly confident attitude and smart mouth to sustain the pretense, he seems to disappear into the hospital bed. And without his overbearingly confident attitude and smart mouth to sustain me, I cover my mouth and begin to sob.

I wake to the sound of crying and as my eyes adjust to the darkness of the room, I realize it's Sammy. My little brother, whom I'm supposed to watch over and protect. As he cries, my failure and incompetence mock me. Common sense would say that I can't shield him from the hardships of life but I know better. If you want something bad enough, you find a way. I just have to try harder.

I feel lost and disconnected, as if a part of me has already started dying in this cold, sterile hospital room. But I can't let Sam see that. So I hit him lightly on the arm-just enough to get his attention-and say, "Hey, Sam, chill. You always were the worrier in the family." That's usually enough to get a rise out of him and I wait for his irritated rebuttal. "Shut up, Dean. I am not." "Geez, Dean, I'm not an old woman or something." "You're such asshole, Dean." .

But this time, he just looks up at me with red rimmed eyes and says, "God, I'm sorry, I…I didn't mean to wake you up." His face is filled with guilt and it breaks my heart.

"No sweat, man. I can't sleep forever," I could bite my tongue as soon as the words come out. "I mean, um, oh, shit."

Sam's face is stricken at my blunder and I hit his arm again to distract him. "Hey, could you see if they have any real food in the vending machines? This hospital crap stinks." He needs to get out of this room, even if only for a few minutes. And I need to think.

Sam jumps up at the chance to do something for me; if it weren't so morbid, I could really milk this for all it's worth. With his usual practicality, he says, "Okay, sure. But I probably should check with the nurse to see if you're on a special diet or anything."

I doubt a diet will save me now but hey, if it makes Sammy happy….. "If the nurse wants to give me personal instructions on this diet of yours, tell her to come on in," I leer. He gives me a disgusted look and as he leaves, I call out, "But only if she's hot!"

As the sound of his footsteps fade, I sink back onto the cheap pillows and finally relax. If only Sam knew the last thing on my mind right now is a pretty nurse, he would really lose it. But he doesn't know me as well as he thinks and for that I'm grateful. Because now I have to send him away for good. My insides twist at the thought of spending my last days alone but I know it's for the best. Because Sammy will try to stop what I have to do.

I realized it when the doctor warned about no more strenuous activity. And I imagined my brother, hovering over me and bringing me hot tea, while I lie in bed like an invalid until one day I don't wake up at all. Or there's the other alternative, in which Sam yells at me constantly for overdoing things and we fight all the time until one day I don't wake up at all. Both scenarios stink big time.

I've never been one for waiting and this is no exception. The dice have been rolled and they've come up snake eyes, game over. I hate it but that's fate: never a fair player. But neither am I. If fate wants me dead, so be it but it'll be on my terms, my way. And Sammy can never know.

It'll have to be some doozy of a fight to convince Sam to leave. And so I start to plan.

I'm alone by the vending machines, which suits me fine. The last thing I want right now is idle chatter. I stock up on all kinds of junk food, having gotten permission from the evening shift nurse. I grin as I imagine Dean's face at the sight of his balding, male nurse and for a moment, things seem normal again.

I put in some quarters and watch as black coffee pours into the Styrofoam cup. Despite my hopeful expectations, the coffee is bitter and I grimace at the taste. God, that is truly hideous. I collect the rest of the food and make my way back down well memorized corridors. And as I walk, I think about what my brother is plotting. Because I know my brother better than he thinks. He'll want to protect me and keep me safe, even if it's at his expense. He'll hate his growing weakness and will want to hide it. So, right about now, Dean is planning on how to send me away. Like that's going to happen.

I enter Dean's room and sure enough, he's lying with eyes closed and brow furrowed. Plotting, plotting, plotting. I almost laugh: he's so predictable. Instead, I clear my throat as I put the food down on the table tray and he quickly opens his eyes. "Wow, that's quite a spread you got there, Sammy boy," he drawls as he feigns interest in the various candies and cookies I've brought. He picks one up almost randomly and eats with exaggerated enjoyment.

I convince him to close his eyes-just for a minute, okay, Dean?-and sure enough, soon he's fast asleep. Without the need for pretense, his face relaxes and the lines smooth out, making him seem much younger. I feel the tears stinging in my eyes again but this time, I don't give in to the temptation. I need to hold it together. And as I sit by my dying brother's bedside, something changes within me; an as of yet nameless hope takes root and as it grows stronger, it begins to sustain me.

"Dean? Dean?" I whisper but the steady rise and fall of his chest doesn't change. Convinced he's asleep, I continue with the words I long to but may not yet be able to say in the light of day. "It's going to be okay. I don't know how but I'm sure of it. How many times have we fought demons and monsters and even if things got rough, in the end it always turned out fine? So why is this any different? Cuz it's a different kind of monster? So what? Maybe that's the point; sometimes you just have to trust that it's going to be okay." I pause for a moment, trying to find the words that will define my search to save my brother.

"Sometimes, you just gotta have faith."