Disclaimer: The reason this took so long to put up was because I was buying them. I do own them, so there! Okay FINE. I don't own them. Bitter? Why yes, I am.
A/N: Okay, I really have no excuse for not having this up earlier, unless you count getting promoted at work. Of course, what this really means is that for a slight increase in pay, I'm now doing my job plus the job of two people who left. Nice, huh? Anyway, I have been feeling extremely guilty everyday about not getting this up sooner. I have been thinking about it, I just haven't had time.
I really appreciate you guys and hope you can forgive me for not getting this to you earlier. I hope you enjoy, please review and let me know what you think! Thanks!
Warning for language.
When Dean woke up, he was a little disconcerted that the first thing he saw was Sam sitting on the chair across from the bed, staring hard at him with an unreadable look on his face.
He sat up, ignoring the pain that shot through his body at the abrupt movement. "Jesus, Sam, what are you doing? Why are you looking at me that way?" Sam just shrugged and looked away.
What the hell is that supposed to mean? Dean started to worry that Sam's symptoms were worse and he just didn't want to tell him. He rubbed his forehead in agitation. Well, forget it. He doesn't get to hide this stuff from me any longer. We agreed on that. He decided he was just going to have to pull it out of him.
"How do you feel?" If Dean had thought about the possible different reactions that question could have generated, the cold glare Sam gave him probably would have been at the bottom of the list.
"Okay, so that was a bad question?" Dean ventured a guess. No answer. "Sammy?"
"It's Sam," he snarled.
"Sheesh! Okay, Sam. Now how about you answer my question?"
"I don't know, Dean," Sam spat. "Why don't you tell me how I feel?"
Dean began to wonder if, while he was asleep, a shape shifter had taken Sam and this wasn't his brother at all.
"What is wrong with you this morning? Care to tell me what sparked this little temper tantrum you're having? Cause this is not the brightest start to a day I've ever had."
Sam jumped up and stalked over to the bed. "You ass, you goddamn stupid ass, I could just…" He spun around, clenching his fists.
"What, Sam? You could what?" Dean threw the covers back and got out of bed, feeling at a disadvantage there. He didn't know why Sam seemed to be spoiling for a fight, but he was more than willing to accommodate him.
Dean wouldn't have been surprised if Sam had attacked him then and there. The anger was positively radiating off of him. And Sam wasn't usually one to back down from a fight, so he was a little shocked when Sam started walking over to the door.
"Just forget it. I'm going to go get breakfast."
Dean watched in astonishment as Sam slammed the door behind him without ever looking back. Okay, now what the hell was that about? It's way too early for Sam to be throwing that shit at me, especially when I don't even know what started it! I am so not in the mood to deal with this.
Hoping Sam would be over whatever had crawled up his ass by the time he got back, Dean decided to take a long shower. As the warm water pulsed down his back, Dean tried to relax, but it was hard when his head still hurt like hell from the night before, and his brother was acting like he was four years old. He closed his eyes and thought back to the night before. He was frustrated because his memories of exactly what had happened still weren't clear. He could remember the demon whispering to him before he blacked out, but the exact words were hazy. He sighed and gave up for now. He stepped out of the shower and toweled off. Looking at himself in the mirror, he cringed. He definitely was not looking his best.
It was when he bent down to pick up his clothes from the bathroom floor that the memory from the night before washed over him…and when it all came back, he knew the one thing he could never do was tell Sam.
Sam wasn't sure where he was going when he left. He just knew he needed to get rid of some ofhis excess energy and if he hadn't left, it was going to be used punching a hole through the wall or his brother. Either one. Okay, so pissing Dean off first thing in the morning was probably not my smartest move. But after what he's done… He knew he wasn't being rational. He didn't even know for sure that Dean had done anything. But the three hours he'd had to worry and wonder before Dean woke up had not done anything for his disposition. He'd come to what he figured the most likely scenario was, and it scared him beyond anything. We're going to have to talk about it. Fighting with him is only putting off the inevitable. But I wish…
"You might want to be careful with that, Sam." The voice came from behind him and sent chills down his spine Sam spun around, knowing what, or who, he would find. And he was glad….
Dean waited in the hotel room, becoming impatient when Sam still hadn't returned. A feeling of apprehension suddenly loomed over him, but he tried to shake it off, telling himself Sam was fine. He looked around the room and his eyes landed on Sam's notes from the night. He sat down, and after a few minutes, had to admit he was impressed with Sam's thoroughness. His brother had made notations on different ideas Dean didn't think he would have thought of. He was so engrossed in the research his brother had done that when he looked up, he was shocked to see an hour had gone by. The uneasiness settled over him again, and he finally decided he needed to go after his younger brother. He flung open the door and stumbled back in surprise.
"Damn it, Sam! That's the second time today you've scared the shit out of me! And it's barely mid-morning!"
"Sorry," Sam mumbled. He would barely look at him. Dean thought about questioning him until he remembered how well that had gone that morning.
In fact, looking at Sam now, he wasn't sure what to expect. He was relieved when Sam just tossed a McDonald's bag at him. Well, at least boy genius remembered the food. He looked inside the bag and found Egg McMuffins, his favorite breakfast. He happily started to dig in, then stopped. He thought about how Sam wouldn't meet his eyes and looked at Sam with suspicion.
"Did you wreck my car?"
"What?" Where did that come from, Sam wondered.
"C'mon, you hate this kind of food. Whenever you get breakfast, I end up with some healthy crap that I can't stand. First you start a fight this morning for no reason, and then come back with this? Yeah, you definitely wrecked my car." Dean jumped up and started heading towards the door to see what shape his baby was in.
Sam would have smiled if he hadn't been so miserable. He should have known that would be Dean's first thought. "Dean, relax. The car is fine. Nothing happened to it."
Dean ignored him. He opened the door and almost slumped against it in relief when he saw the Impala gleaming in the parking lot. It looked unharmed. He closed the door and shrugged at the look Sam gave him. "Well, you can't blame a guy for wondering."
Dean walked back over his food. He was about to ask a question about what had caused Sam's outburst earlier, but got distracted when he noticed what Sam was eating.
"Sam, what is that?" He pointed at what Sam was holding. Sam mumbled something incoherently. "Uh-huh. Want to try that in English this time?" Dean asked.
Sam sighed. "Fine. It's a Fruit 'N Yogurt Parfait, okay?" He closed his eyes, knowing what was coming. He wasn't disappointed.
"You've got to be kidding me. Even you, the health food nut, would not touch something with a name so gay as a Fruit N' Yogurt Parfait. Please tell me you are joking." Dean was looking at him with something akin to horror.
Sam defiantly took a bite without answering.
"Oh God. Look, Sam, we are going to have to talk. Guys shouldn't even know the word Parfait. It's like, a law or something. I know you have your girly moments, but this is really going too far."
Sam just smirked and kept eating. Dean sighed, gave Sam up as a lost cause, and turned his attention to his much more manly Egg McMuffins.
Dean polished off his food in record time. He looked at his brother who seemed completely different from an hour before. "You know, Sam, this multiple personality disorder thing doesn't look good on you," Dean commented.
"And that means…" Sam asked, raising his eyebrows.
"What do you think? It means I want to know why I woke up to a raving lunatic, and now you're acting like nothing ever happened!"
Sam looked anywhere but at his brother. "Drop it, Dean," he advised.
"Yeah, cause that worked soooo well in the past," the older hunter sarcastically replied. "What is going on with you?"
Sam stood up and grabbed the empty food bags. He crumpled them up and walked over to the wastebasket, dropping them in. He looked at the desk next to it with his notes from the night before. His fists clenched again. The food had been a peace offering of sorts, yes, but knew his emotions were still very close to the surface, especially after what he had just been through in the last hour. He prayed for patience.
"Hey, Sam, as fascinating as our garbage may be, I'm over here," Dean told him.
Sam looked around the room and his eyes settled on the door.
"I don't think so," Dean growled and leapt across the room, planting himself in front of the door.
"You really want to go into this now?" Sam asked. His stomach was churning.
"Well, let me see. I'm not the one who woke up acting like an ass for no reason! Hell yes, we are going to go into this now!"
"Fine." Sam walked over to one of the beds and sat down.
Dean sat down on the other bed and looked at him expectantly. "Well?" he finally asked, after Sam stayed silent. "Spill."
To Dean's surprise and horror, Sam's eyes started to look suspiciously like they were beginning to water. I can't do this. I just CANNOT do this. What am I supposed to say to him? How could he…I can't believe I was….ugh….now I can't even form complete sentences with my own thoughts. He saw Dean looking at him and figured he'd better say something before Dean went nuts. "I…ummm… did some research last night."
Dean was just relieved Sam had managed to utter the sentence without his voice cracking. Maybe I just imagined the tears. "Okay. So that would be when you lied to me and told me you were just going to the bathroom?" Dean's eyebrow twitched.
Sam ran a shaky hand distractedly through his hair. "Yeah, look, I'm not going to apologize for that. You needed sleep after what you went through yesterday."
Dean was agitated. "If anyone needs rest around here, it's you!" Sam gave him a weird look. "What?" Dean asked defensively. There was no answer. "Damn it, Sam, what's wrong?"
And that question finally pushed Sam over the edge. "You have the actual nerve to look at me and ask what's wrong?" Sam started to raise his voice without even realizing it. "Why don't we talk about you, huh Dean?"
Uh-oh, Dean thought. This can't be good. He tried to play it off, hoping Sam didn't know the truth. "I don't know what's gotten into you Sam. There's nothing wrong with me." Sam snorted at that. Oh yeah, this definitely isn't good. Dean tried a different approach. "Look, let's just forget this morning happened, okay? We'll just chalk it up to you having a waking up on the wrong side of the bed or something."
Sam looked at him in disbelief. He stood up, feeling like he was almost wanted to get out of his own skin. Then, just as quickly, he sat back down. "Dean." He said his brother's name quietly, which had the effect of getting the older man's complete attention. Sam was suddenly tired. "I know, okay? I know what you did."
Dean had a sinking feeling in his stomach. How can he possibly know the truth? "Sam…"
"Don't." Sam shook his head. "You know, it's little wonder I didn't tell you when I found out about my condition. After all, I learned from you."
Dean was shocked. "What are you talking about?"
Sam looked straight at him. "If you can't trust me enough to let me know when you need help, why should I have learned to do any different?"
Dean felt as if the breath had been knocked out of him. "Sammy, it's not like that," he protested.
"It's Sam, and yes, it's exactly like that," Sam countered. "In fact, to prove it, why don't I tell you about my morning after I left the room?"
Dean looked up, a bit fearful, but still trying not to show it. "I don't know why your morning should have anything to do with this, but you're obviously dying to tell me, so you might as well." He tried to say this offhand, as if it didn't matter to him in the slightest, but he had a feeling this was not going to end well.
"I was pretty angry when I left this morning," Sam started. A slight smile touched his face for a second, but then left. "I guess that was pretty obvious. But like I said, when you were sleeping, I had the chance to do some research on that demon. And guess what I discovered, Dean?"
Dean knew, but didn't want to say. He looked down.
Sam continued as if he hadn't noticed. "It was a Wish Demon. Which means that you spent quite awhile alone in its presence. And by your own account, you were taken off guard when he grabbed you because you were worried about me." Dean opened his mouth, but Sam cut him off. "I'm not done," he said sharply. "So I had my suspicions this morning. But I couldn't be sure. Until I ran into someone this morning." Dean looked at him, the question clearly written on his face. "Or should I say, something."
"No," Dean whispered.
"Oh yes," Sam gave a short, mirthless laugh. "He seemed to know exactly when I figured out what he was, and he was waiting for me. After all, he had told me that he would find me again once I knew what kind of demon he really was and what he had done. And he was all too pleased to confirm my suspicions, that you, being an IDIOT, actually wished in his presence that my condition had happened to you instead!" Sam couldn't help it, by the time he finished, he was yelling. He didn't even notice the tear that had slipped down his cheek, but Dean did. "I tried to believe that you wouldn't be that stupid, that my slight headache was due to the tumor instead of hitting my head on the wall, but I knew, deep down, that I was cured. Which, normally, we could consider a miracle. Except for one small fact. Which was, what again? Oh yes. Not that you apparently planned on telling me, but that in order to get my miracle, I sentenced my brother to death." Sam whispered the last part, complete misery and sorrow written all over his face.
Dean jumped up, ignoring that pain that shot through his body. "Now, wait a minute. Just stop that crap right now. You did no such thing. This was my choice, okay?"
"How could it possibly be your choice?" Sam asked. "You didn't know what he was."
"No," Dean admitted. "But if I had, I would have made the same wish. And he did give me a choice."
"What?" Sam said incredulously. "He gave you a choice, and you still chose this?"
Dean nodded. He remembered what had happened now with crystal clarity. 'God, I wish it was me instead.' Once he had made that wish in his head and the demon had grabbed his hand, it had asked him if he was sure. It was at that moment that Dean realized he could save Sam. A feeling of rightness had come over him. That this was just. His job was to make sure Sammy was okay. He had been feeling helpless and frustrated because there had been nothing he could do to help his brother. Until that point. So when he told the demon yes, there had been no hesitation on his part. After that, he just remembered a blast of pain coming over him, and then nothing until Sam had found him.
"I had to, Sam," Dean explained. "It was the only way I could help you."
"Help me!" Sam exploded. "By letting him kill you instead?"
"I had to," Dean repeated brokenly. "I couldn't just let you…I could finally do something. It's what I'm supposed to do."
Sam was in a complete state of shock. God, he really thinks it's his job to die in my place. Because he thinks he's supposed to take care of me, at any cost to him. A feeling of love washed over him towards his brother, but at the same time, he couldn't accept this. He couldn't let Dean do this for him.
"You had no right, Dean."
"I had every right!" Dean disagreed. "You're my brother – I'm not going to let anything happen to you while I'm around. I told you that before, and I meant it. This is the only way I can protect you."
Sam sighed. He knew Dean really felt this way, but how could he believe Sam would just let this happen without a fight? "And you really thought you could get away with never telling me this? Like I wouldn't notice that my symptoms had disappeared, while coincidentally you started feeling like hell? If you think I'm just going to let you do this, you're completely out of your mind."
"Sam. It's done, okay? There's nothing you can do." This, at least, Dean felt sure of. He started to pull on a T-shirt, not realizing until then that he had been arguing half dressed. Until Sam spoke again.
"Actually, I think there is."
Dean stopped with the shirt halfway over his head for a moment. He slowly pulled it down and looked at Sam, hoping to see something on his face that would tell him Sam was joking. But he knew Sam would never joke about something like this. "What are you talking about?
Sam looked away for a moment, gathering his thoughts. "I told you that I ran into the Demon this morning. He was there just to gloat, really. But I didn't mind, in fact I was happy in a way to see him. Because I figured…" Sam shrugged.
"You figured what, Sam?" Dean's voice had become dangerously soft.
"I figured as long as he was there, I could make a wish of my own. That I could wish yours would be undone."
"Damn it, Sam! What the hell were you thinking? How could you…" Dean stopped. "Wait a minute. If you made that wish, why don't I feel any different? I can tell I'm…"
"Still sick?" Sam asked.
Dean nodded, confused.
"Well, apparently Wish Demon's don't have to grant every wish. He took extra pleasure in telling me that. And the last thing he wanted to do was undo your wish, when he knew how much pain it would cause both of us. You dying, and me knowing it was my fault that you died."
"Would you stop that!" Dean exploded. "For the last time Sam, this is NOT YOUR FAULT!"
"Dean, it is my fault," Sam said earnestly. "The fact is that Josie told me if I let you come here with me, I would get you killed. And she was right. I'm responsible for this."
Dean began to pace like a caged tiger. "I really don't want to have to hurt you Sam, but I swear I'm going to knock you out if you keep talking stupid like that."
Sam gave him a slight smile. "It's okay Dean. I know how to fix it."
Dean looked suspicious. "How?"
Sam started to speak, then abruptly got up. "It's kind of a long story, and I could use some coffee." He started to move towards the door. "I saw a machine down the hall. Do you want some?"
"You're just getting coffee, right? You're not taking off?" Dean couldn't help but worry.
Sam smirked. "Just coffee, Dean. Now, do you want some or not? Dean nodded. "Okay, I'll be right back. I promise," he added when Dean still looked like he almost wanted to tag along.
Dean paced while Sam was gone. Stupid kid. Thinking this is his fault. He's my responsibility, this is my job. He never asked for any of this.
His thoughts were broken up when Sam came back rather quickly with two steaming cups of coffee. Dean masked his surprise. Although he had believed that Sam was coming back, he had thought that his younger brother would have taken some extra time to put off the discussion.
Sam handed one of the cups to Dean, who took a deep breath of the coffee and smiled with pleasure. It was odd, really. The rest of the day, he wouldn't touch coffee. But in the morning, he loved it. He took off the lid and took a quick sip, flinching a bit as it burned going down
Sam smiled. "When are you going to learn, huh? You need to let it cool down first."
"I like to live dangerously," Dean kidded. "Even if it is just coffee." He took another sip and looked at Sam. "Okay, enough of that. What is this about you knowing how to 'fix" this? I'm not sure I like the sound of that."
Sam looked down at his own drink. "Well, like I said, Wish Demon's don't have to grant any specific wish. They get to pick and choose. But there's one exception." He watched as his brother continued to drink his coffee with enthusiasm.
"Oh really? What's that?" Dean asked.
Sam looked at him closely and figured it was safe to tell him now. "Josie said the incantation that brought him here. It's why he isn't using her to increase his power. She was the first – it amuses him to keep her aware of everything that is going on, of what he tells her she's caused."
Dean nodded, not noticing that he swayed slightly. "Okay, that makes sense. But what does that have to do with what you're talking about?"
"All I have to do is go to where Josie said the incantation. There's a separate one to banish him. When you do…" Sam hesitated, looking at Dean. "You get to make a wish. And it's automatically granted. So I can undo yours at that point."
"What? No way!" Dean tried to get up, but had to sit down as a wave of dizziness came over him. He ignored it, knowing he couldn't let his brother go this route. "If you do that, everything goes back to the way it was…and you'll die. There's no way I'm letting that happen!"
"Actually, you don't have a choice," Sam said apologetically.
It was at that moment that Dean realized what had just happened with horror. "Sam, tell me you did not just drug me!" He barely noticed that his words were slurred. He was getting more drowsy every second.
"I'm sorry, Dean," Sam said. "I really am. But I knew you'd try to stop me otherwise."
"Damn right I'm going to stop you!" Dean tried to sound forceful, but it was lost as the drug continued to slow down his motor skills.
"No, you're not," Sam said quietly. "This is my responsibility. I let you come here. I'm the reason you're dying in my place. And I'm going to be the one to help you this time." He gently took Dean by the shoulders and laid him down on the bed.
Dean's mind was frantic but his body wasn't cooperating. He knew he was going to lose consciousness soon and wouldn't be able to stop Sam from reversing his wish. He tried to sit up one more time and failed. "Sam, please, don't do this!"
Sam looked at his brother one last time as he opened the door. He saw Dean looking at him with pleading eyes that were slowly closing, unable to fight off the drug.
"It's Sammy," he told him quietly, giving him a quick, soft smile. Dean's eyes were completely closed at this point. Sam knew it might be the last time he ever saw his brother, and took an extra few seconds to look at him. "I love you," Sam said softly, not even knowing if Dean had heard him, but feeling better for having said it. Then, straightening his shoulders, Sam stepped into the cold night air and closed the door behind him.
But Dean had heard him. And despite every instinct screaming at him to stay awake, to save Sam, Dean had no choice but to succumb to the drug as his world went black.
A/N: Okay, I'm not sure whether there are one or two more chapters left, but we are coming close to the end. Hope you like this installment (late as it is!). Please review and let me know! Thanks!