A/N : Post-shadow, because I can't stand loose ends, and I feel the need to tie them up, or sever them. Let me know what you think, should I continue?

Disclaimer : I don't own Supernatural! But I do own this...

Warning : SPOILERS! BAD WORDS! GRAPHIC SCENES AHEAD!

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We drove for hours, leaving the city lights behind us, pushing eighty even on back roads, because we needed Chicago behind us. We needed to put miles between us and that city. We needed to put miles between us and our father, because to be together was to be dead.

The car reeked of blood, sweat and desperation.

An empty tank forced us to stop somewhere in Ohio, where too bright lights chased the shadows into the corners of the lot.

I turned off the ignition, but didn't get out of the car right away.

I felt Sam's eyes on me, felt the question poised unspoken on the edge of his tongue, and I spoke only to beat him.

"Don't."

"Don't?" he asked, like he really thought I had no idea what he was thinking.

I shook my head, and got out of the car, every inch of my body protesting.

He followed me, the creak of his door echoing in the empty night, watching me from over the roof of the car.

I moved slowly as I walked to the pump, trying my best to ignore him.

As persistent as ever, he stared me down, his eyes throwing a million words at my back.

I bent slightly to insert the nozzle into the gas tank and gave the handle a squeeze, the liquid flowing freely.

"Dean," he said.

One word. Only one fucking word, but his tone pleaded with me.

"What?" I asked, turning around, my voice hissing back at him.

He blinked once, and fell silent again.

"Stay out here," I said when the tank clicked full. "We don't need two freaks attracting attention."

Only then did his eyes convey the realization that we were both still bleeding. That in all the hours on the road, we hadn't stopped to clean up, to check each other out or take care of the wounds spanning our bodies.

"Christ, Dean, are you okay?" he asked suddenly, taking a step forward.

I took one more back.

"I'm fine," I said, but I winced as I went for my wallet. "Stay in the car, Sam."

He flinched only slightly, but nodded.

I walk inside with my collar turned up and slip into the bathroom, hopefully before the attendant can see me.

Without a road under the tires, without mile markers passing by, without anything to occupy my mind, the realization hits me very suddenly.

Hard.

We almost died tonight.

Hell, I've almost died enough times to say I laugh in the face of it, but tonight we almost fucking died.

All of us. The entire family came inches, seconds away from being... gone.

And little Sammy saved the day.

And then I almost laughed.

What a sorry fucking state of affairs.

I was covered in blood from gashes on my forehead, my cheek, my lips stained red from blood. God knew what else was bleeding on me. I hurt everywhere.

I did my best to clean away the blood with a wet mass of paper towels, and threw the entire sodden clump in the toilet, ignore the warnings, and flushed the evidence away.

I wrapped my jacket around my blood-soaked shirt, and ran my fingers under the tap, wetting my hair, pushing it forward to hide the wounds as best as I could. Satisfied that it was as close as I was going to get to passing for normal.

As I paid for the gas, I half expected the attendant to speak up, accuse me of something, ask about the blood, anything, but all he did was take my money, and hand me change. He didn't even look at me.

And I was kind of offended.

I was relieved as hell, but at the same time, I wanted to scream.

After all we went through, I wanted someone to know. I wanted someone to wonder. I wanted someone to fucking care.

Instead, I pocketed my chance and gave a longing glance at the freezers against the back row, the plastic bottles of soda and water lined up in colorful, appealing rows.

I was thirsty as hell. Which meant Sam probably was, too, but cash was dwindling, and as much as I wanted to keep driving, I knew we had to stop soon. Those cuts on Sam's face would need looking at, and I was tired.

Really... fucking... tired.

I swallowed a sigh and left, walking the miles back to the car and sinking gratefully into the front seat, closing my eyes for a few seconds.

"Dean?"

And there it goes again.

"What?" I asked, opening my eyes but not looking at my brother.

"Are you -"

"I'm fine, Sam," I stressed, reaching for the keys.

"You don't want me to drive or something?" he asked, and I could feel those eyes on me again.

"No."

The engine turning over sealed the deal.

No talking, only driving, that's how I liked it. Even if the tension was palpable. Even if I wanted to scream. My way or the highway.

A few miles down the road, a sign for a motel vacancy caught my eye. Before Sam could speak, I flicked on the turn signal.

I could practically hear him sigh in relief when I pulled into a spot. Had I been in a better mood, I would have laughed. Now all it did was make me angrier.

I stepped out of the car, my breath catching when a stab of pain lanced across my chest. It was enough to double me over, and Sam was at my side in seconds, grabbing at my elbow.

I shoved him away roughly. Too roughly.

"Dean," he said, hurt, questioning.

"Get off," I spat, unable to keep the anger from creeping into my voice.

Because someday you'll be gone, Sam. Because you won't be here to help and I'll have to take care of myself. I might as well get used to it now.

My vision was swimming and standing up straight only made it worse.

I took one uncertain step and stumbled.

And he was there, again, this damn kid I'd learned to depend on, and then to live without.

"I'm fine," I said, only half aware that he hadn't said a word.

"You're not fine," he countered, grabbing at my arm again.

"How would you know!" I exploded, shoving him.

He stumbled backward, colliding with the car, a flash of pain going across his bloody face, and I immediately regretted the action. Still, I couldn't make myself go to him.

"Dean, what the hell?" he demanded. "You pick now of all times to have a hissy fit?"

God, I wanted to smash his face in at that moment.

The gravel underneath my boots was unsteady, shifting or something. I staggered.

"What the fuck do you care, Sam?" I asked, lacing a bitter lack of emotion into the name.

It hit him hard. It hurt him.

Good.

He didn't want this anyway. He didn't want this life, didn't want Dad or me. He was in this to get the demon that killed his girlfriend, and nothing more. He didn't care.

He pushed off the car, and clenched his fists.

"That's right, Dean," he said sarcastically. "'Cause I don't care at all."

And I wanted desperately to believe he did.

"You're the one who sent Dad away," he continued, accusing me with those brown eyes.

"What?" I asked. "What!"

"We had him back, Dean," he cried. "And you told him to leave! We could have fought those things together! We're strong, Dean! We're a family!"

"What do you know about family?" I asked him a little too calmly. "You're the one who left us. You're the one who wanted out. You got your wish Sam. But now you want out again. I'm sorry I ever dragged your sorry as back into it."

"You're lying," he said, pleadingly.

But I wasn't.

He had wanted out. And I was sorry. Not for the reasons he thought. Sorry that he couldn't have that life, because there he had been happy, safe. And now that was gone, and god, I was so sorry. I don't know if things would have turned out that way if I hadn't gone up there... maybe if I'd stayed away Jess would be alive. Maybe Sam would be happy.

All I knew was I was dragging him under.

I latched on to him like a dead weight and held on because I wanted my family back together like the old days. Because this was the life I had chosen, and I wanted him to be a part of it.

But he wanted me to let go.

And for the first time in my life, I wasn't going to be selfish.

He shook his head at me, tears shining in his eyes.

He opened his mouth and -

- and suddenly the world pitched on it's side, slid, and shattered into a million tiny pieces.