Staying

Disclaimer: I do not own anything from "Supernatural".

This is a sequel to "Don't Leave Me", but it can also be a stand alone. In "Don't Leave Me", Dean and Sam talked about what was said in "Shadows" and Sam asked Dean to share an apartment with him once Sam went back to Stanford. This is what happens after.

The morning after they had finally killed the demon that killed their mother and Jessica, Dean woke up early, having gotten little sleep anyway. Wincing slightly, he moved to the bathroom as quietly as he could. Dean lifted his shirt and gently prodded the large white bandages covering his right side, trying unsuccessfully to stifle a moan of pain.

Footsteps padded softly up behind him, and Dean could see Sam's reflection yawning in the mirror. "Let me take a look at that," Sam said softly, touching Dean's arm.

"You need to get your sleep, Sammy," Dean answered, wincing again as Sam's fingers touched the bandage.

"Dean, the demon took a chunk out of your side. C'mon, just let me look at it, make sure its healing ok."

Dean complied, only because he knew Sam was worried and feeling guilty, a combination that always proved very rough on his little brother. Following Sam over to his bed, Dean watched as Sam grabbed the first aid kit and sat down next to Dean.

Sam's fingers lightly pried the bandages off Dean's skin, his eyes staying off Dean's face. "It's healing well," Sam said, crumpling the old bandages into a ball and unrolling new ones.

"Good," Dean answered, his hand clenching the side of the bed, out of Sam's sight.

"That should have been me," Sam said quietly, focusing on his wrapping of Dean's side.

"Don't start Sam." Dean had known this was coming, from the minute he had been laid bleeding in the back seat, the minute Sam had snatched the bandages from their dad's hand, insisting on using his shaking hands to take care of Dean himself. Their father hadn't stayed long, only enough to ensure that Dean would live, and then had taken off with the demon's body in the backseat to ensure it would never rise again.

But that look hadn't left Sam's eyes, and Dean knew it wouldn't until they talked this out, much as he hated to admit it. "Dean, you pushed me out of the way! You jumped right in front of me and you ended up pinned to…" Sam's hands started to shake so hard he accidentally jabbed Dean in the side, and at the sound of Dean's cry of pain, Sam jumped away, retreating to the corner of the room, his face pressed into his hands.

Sighing, Dean rose from the bed, pulling his shirt back on and walking over to Sam. "Sammy, c'mon Sammy, look at me." When Sam shook his head, Dean gently pulled Sam's hands away, touching Sam's chin to bring his face back to eye level. The tears streaming down Sam's face broke down any resolve Dean had had to avoid a chick flick moment, and Dean pulled Sam into his arms, his hand gently rubbing circles on Sam's trembling back.

"He only got me on the wall, Sammy. Bastard couldn't even get me up to the ceiling." Sam choked out a hysterical laugh and Dean pulled him in tighter.

"He was trying to get me, Dean, and you stepped in front." Sam rested his head on top of Dean's, and Dean could feel Sam's tears trickling down through his hair, and it took Dean a minute to realize he, no sentimentality Dean, was crying too.

"Of course I did, Sammy, I'm always going to step in front." Dean rested his other hand on the back of Sam's head, and Sam bent his head down to rest it on Dean's shoulder.

"Yeah, I know, it's in the big brother handbook, right?" Sam said with a sniffle and a laugh.

"First of all, you're not supposed to have to seen that handbook." Dean smirked and pulled back slightly to check on Sam, and was relieved to find a smile spreading across Sam's face. Moving back over to the bed, his hand on Sam's shoulder, Dean sat down and watched Sam pack up the first aid kit. "And second, yeah, it is, right next to this."

With no warning, Dean grabbed the pillow and smacked Sam across the head. With an outraged laugh, Sam grabbed the other pillow, but quickly stopped in midair, his eyes falling on Dean's packed duffel bag sitting next to the bed.

"Dean, tell me you're not leaving." Sam switched his eyes to his brother's face, which was filled with complete confusion.

"Of course I am, Sam, and you are too," Dean answered, looking up at Sam.

"Dean, we talked about this! I don't want to leave you, I don't want you to leave me! I thought you understood!" Sam pleaded, moving over to block Dean's view of the packed bags. Dean continued to look at Sam in confusion, but as Sam's face crumpled Dean suddenly understood.

"Sammy, no, don't you remember?" Dean stood up and moved over to the bags, unzipping one and pulling out a small stapled packet of papers. "It was your idea after all." Handing the papers to Sam, Dean sat back down on the bed, watching as Sam flipped through the papers, his look of complete dejection switching just as quickly to a smile.

"It's the apartment we'd liked the best," Sam said, in a voice full of surprise. "But we never moved on it, we still had to find the demon…" Trailing off, he looked at Dean for an explanation.

"I made a call, once I knew we were on the trail. I asked the guy to hold it for us, and he said he would." Dean laughed at his brother's look of shock. "I do know how to do some things besides hunt, Sammy. He said it's ours, we just have to drive up there and sign the contract…well, and pay him the few months extra rent I promised him if he wouldn't let it to anyone else."

Sam continued to stare at the paper, unable to take his eyes off it." "Sam, you can see the real thing you know," Dean said with a laugh. "You did notice I packed your bag too, right? It's going to be a long drive to California, and we need to get started."

With a nod and a smile, Sam picked up his bag, still holding on to the papers. He followed Dean to the Impala, where they threw their bags in the trunk and slid into the car. The familiarity of the car, the music, Dean's presence in the driver's seat all lulled Sam to sleep.

With sleep came the dream. The demon charged at Sam, his evil mangled hands contorting as he wove a spell into the black smoke he had gathered. As the spell shot out, Sam was frantically pushed aside, and could only watch in horror as the spell slammed into Dean.

Dean was shot into the wall and cried out in agony as something sharp sliced into his side, pinning him to the wood that had begun to burn in the flames.

"Sammy!" Sam felt a hand on his shoulder and awoke to the sound of his own sobbing screams. Dean had already pulled the car over, and Sam leapt out, dropping to all fours in the dirt and retching.

Within seconds, Sam felt strong arms around his chest, supporting him. "It's ok, Sammy, I've got you, I'm right here," Dean murmured soothingly, and Sam felt his shaking subside.

Sitting up slowly, Sam leaned his head into Dean's shoulder, and Dean put his arm around Sam. "Two chick flick moments in one day, Sammy?" Dean tried to joke in an attempt to keep the situation light. "I'm reaching my limit for life here."

"Dean, you got pinned to the wall." Sam's voice was so shaky, so immediate, and Dean tightened his hold on his brother.

"Yeah I did, Sammy, but you pulled me down, remember?" Dean's soft voice got through to Sam and he nodded. As soon as he'd seen Dean on the wall, nothing else had mattered, not the demon, not their dad, not the revenge they had worked so long and hard for. Everything else had become a blur as Sam had sprinted to Dean's side, gently extracting Dean from his confines, carrying him from the flames that had only just begun to lick his skin.

"You weren't dead." Sam leaned his head into Dean's shoulder, as if needing the physical reassurance and Dean lightly ruffled his hair.

"No, I wasn't Sammy, and I'm still not." Dean could still see that look on Sam's face when Dean had opened his eyes, the way Sam's tears baptized Dean's skin, the way Dean had been able to see Sam's wide relieved smile for just a second before Sam had bent his head forward to embrace Dean tightly. Over Sam's shoulder Dean had seen their father, standing there lost and forgotten above the demon's corpse, but Dean had instantly turned his attention back to Sam, wrapping his brother in his arms so tight so Sam would know he still could. "You ready to head back to the car?"

"Yeah." Sam offered up a smile, and that was all Dean could ask for. Helping Sam stand up, Dean walked back to the car, sliding into the driver's seat. They pulled away, and started back up the road.

Dean looked over to find Sam's eyes closed again. Sliding off his seatbelt for a second, Dean took his jacket off and placed it gently over Sam, who snuggled into it in sleep, wrapping it around his shoulders. Smiling, Dean clicked his seatbelt back in, humming along to Metallica under his breath.

Sam slept the whole ride, jolting awake when they pulled to a stop in front of the apartment from the papers. Rubbing his hands over his eyes, Sam sat up in the seat, noticing the jacket as it slid off of him towards the floor. Catching it, he handed it back to Dean with a smile. Returning the smile, Dean slipped out of the car, stretching his body. "Wow, Sammy, it is hot here."

"Yes, Dean, because this is California," Sam said with a smirk, slipping out also and wincing as his back cracked. "And we're back in big boy land now, so it's Sam."

"Can't hear you Sammy, the sun's too bright." Smirking back, Dean headed up towards the apartment complex. Ringing one of the doorbells, Dean felt Sam come up behind him as a man answered the door.

"Mr. Walton?" Dean asked, stepping forward. "My name is Dean, this is my brother Sam."

"Right, Apartment 22A." With a smile, the man handed the keys over. "Enjoy."

The walk was short, only a few flights up, but Sam insisted on them taking the elevator. He claimed his legs were sore from the car ride, but Dean knew Sam was just being protective of his recently wounded big brother. Still, Dean didn't argue, and the quick trip up brought them right to their new front door.

Dean stuck the key in and turned, opening the door onto a tiny, but clean living room. Two bedrooms branched off of the living room, and a small kitchen and bathroom could be seen as well. "This is pretty nice," Dean said, tossing his bag down on the floor.

"Yeah, it is," Sam answered, smiling as he dropped his bag next to his brother's. Dean plopped down on the couch, grabbing a pillow and sticking it behind his head.

"You should go see your friends, Sammy," Dean said, staring at the wall in front of him.

'Yeah, that would be really nice," Sam answered with a smile, heading to the door. His hand on the doorknob, he turned around. "So get your lazy ass of the couch, Dean, so we can go." Dean stared at Sam in confusion, and Sam rolled his eyes with a laugh. "What, you thought I was just going to hide you away here? C'mon, Dean. Most kids got to show their brothers around campus when they first moved in here, they had their brothers come up for Family Weekends to meet their friends…I never got that, alright? So now you owe me."

For a moment Dean just stared at Sam, but then he smiled, and stood up. "Alright, as long as we hit a bar or two Sammy."

"It's Sam, and its noon." Laughing, Sam ushered Dean out the door and down the main street, leading him into the heart of campus. "I was thinking maybe lunch first. There's this diner I used to love down a few blocks. We could-"

A yell interrupted Sam, and he turned around into an enveloping hug. "Sam!" the girl exclaimed, pulling back to kiss his cheek.

"Claire!" Sam hugged her again, a grin shooting across his face. "How are you? It is so good to see you."

"I'm good Sam, better now that you're here," Claire said, smiling broadly at him. "When did you get back?"

"Right now actually," Sam said, turning around to include Dean. "Claire, this is my brother Dean."

"Ah, so this is big brother Dean," Claire said with a smile, extending her hand, which Dean took to shake.

"So you've heard of me?" Dean answered, shooting Sam a very confused look.

"Of course, all of Sam's friends have," Claire answered with a laugh. "He talked about you all the time. I wondered why we never saw you down here, but Sam said the family business kept you really busy."

"Yeah, well you'll see a lot of me now." Dean answered Claire, but looked at Sam. "Sam and I are sharing an apartment a few blocks from here."

"That's so great!" Claire exclaimed excitedly, walking with the boys as they continued through campus. "We should have a party, to celebrate. We've really missed you, Sam. It's good to have you back."

"It's good to be back," Sam said. "And a party would be great. I really want to get to see everybody, and I want everybody to meet Dean." Dean turned his gaze back on Sam, and Sam noticed the smile Dean was fighting to hide.

"Well I know I can round up the old gang, and I'm sure Becky will let us use her house," Claire said. "What about Friday?"

"Friday would be perfect," Sam answered. "We're going to grab some lunch, but I'll see you around?"

"Definitely," Claire answered, kissing Sam on the cheek again, then turning to leave, waving once before she disappeared. Dean and Sam headed towards the diner, Sam pointing out various buildings along the way.

On reaching the diner, they settled into a booth, quickly settling on cheeseburgers and fries. Once the waitress had taken their menus, Dean leaned across the table. "So you talked about me, huh Sammy?" Dean said with a smirk, taking a sip of his water.

"Yes, Dean, I did," Sam answered, settling back into the booth. "I might as well just admit that now, since everyone you meet at the party is already going to know who you are."

"And what might you have said about me, Sammy?" Dean nodded his thanks to the waitress as she brought their food, then returned his smirk to Sam. Sam quickly stuffed a big bite of cheeseburger in his mouth, shrugging at Dean, who let out a loud laugh and let the conversation go.

The next day, Dean stretched his legs around campus while Sam went to the dean's office to discuss his re-enrollment. Dean was waiting in the apartment when Sam got back, trying rather ineffectively to hide his anxiety. "So…" Dean prompted, pretending to read the upside-down magazine he was holding.

"So I'm back in," Sam answered, beaming. Dean dropped the magazine and stood up, flashing a very proud smile at Sam.

"Congrats Sam. I vote we celebrate." Slinging an arm around Sam's shoulders, Dean walked him out the door and into the night, heading toward a bar Sam had mentioned he'd liked.

Walking into the very crowded bar, Sam grabbed a table while Dean wound his way towards the front, raising his fingers to order two beers on tap. A commotion from behind turned Dean's head around, to see two showily-muscular men leaning over Sam, having knocked his chair over as he'd sat down.

"So, oh so smart Sam's come back to Stanford," one of the men said mockingly, leaning into Sam's face. "Changed your mind about writing our papers?" The man's face suddenly reared back as it was met by Dean's fist. "You broke my fucking nose asshole!" the man roared, clutching his face as blood squirted out.

"Good," Dean answered, knowing without looking that Sam had already gotten up and was standing next to him.

"Who the hell are you?" the other men snarled, moving nearer to Dean.

"I would be Dean, and you are the one who's going to get his ass kicked if you don't back off my brother," Dean growled, his fists already raised in the ready.

"Don't remember seeing "super brother Dean" around last time we had a "talk" with Sam here," the first man responded, his tone harsh and still mocking, even with blood pouring out his nose.

"What, you don't remember that time in the alley right outside this bar, that time when you got your ass kicked so badly you missed football practice?" Dean answered with a steely smile, relishing the looks of horror that spread across both men's faces.

"That was you?" the man with the broken nose choked out, staring at Dean.

"Mmm hmm," Dean answered, smiling menacingly. Without a backwards glance the men took off quickly, staggering through the bar and out the door. "You alright?" Dean asked Sam, looking at him in concern.

"Dean, I don't understand," Sam said, moving up to Dean. "You were the one who beat them up? I wouldn't write their papers for them, and they double-teamed me one day and beat the crap out of me…then someone beat the crap out of them that night."

"I might have been up here checking up on you," Dean said, stepping away from the conversation and back to the bar, grabbing their beers and bringing them back to the table. Sitting down, he took a sip.

"Might have been?" Sam took Dean's beer, moving it over to his side of the table.

"Ok, was." Dean reached for his beer, but Sam pulled it back. "Ok, so I might have…did…come up here a few times, make sure you were ok."

"Why didn't you come talk to me, tell me you were here?" Sam's hold on Dean's beer was gone, but Dean didn't notice.

"Because I thought you didn't want to see me." Quickly putting his hand up to stem off Sam's protests, Dean continued. "I know differently after our little soap opera hospital scene, but at the time I didn't." Grabbing his beer back, Dean laughed. "C'mon Sammy, didn't you ever wonder where those books came from? The ones that showed up on your doorstep every birthday?"

"I always figured they were surprise presents from Jess…" Sam looked at Dean, then smiled broadly. "But they were from you."

"Well, yeah, I mean, I highly doubt Jess knew you loved the Hardy Boys when you were little."

'Yeah, I did wonder about that." Laughing, Sam took another sip of his beer, but the glass paused on the way back to the table as Dean's phone rang. Frowning slightly in confusion, Dean picked it up and put it to his ear. His whole face changed, slipping back into the good little soldier countenance Sam had grown to dread.

Dean put the phone down. "Voicemail from Dad," Dean said simply. "I need to leave tomorrow."

"Dean, the party's tomorrow," Sam replied, and Dean heard the pleading in Sam's voice he had fought to hide, and as he looked into Sam's eyes he knew he couldn't say no this time.

"I'm sure Dad can handle this one," Dean said simply, taking a sip of his beer, fighting to hide his smile behind the glass, the smile that had come through as he caught Sam's unabashedly joyful grin.

Friday night, Dean and Sam entered into a mob scene at Becky's house, everyone swamping Sam with hugs and questions, and then being directed by Sam to Dean, everyone exclaiming how great it was to have Sam back and how nice it was to finally meet the Dean they had heard so much about.

Becky finally was able to fight her way up to them, hugging Sam tightly, then throwing her arms around Dean in a tight embrace. Raising an eyebrow and copying his brother's trademark smirk, Sam stepped quietly away, letting himself be led onto the dance floor by Claire.

"Dean, it's really great to see you and Sam back," Becky said with a smile, leading Dean over to the drink table.

"Yeah, I'm sure it must have been hard not to have Sam around, with you two such good friends," Dean began, but Becky cut him off, placing a finger lightly over his lips.

"I missed you too," she said with a smile, turning around to get a drink. Dean stared at her for a second, then smiled broadly, putting his hand on her wrist.

"Would you like to dance?" Dean asked with a laughing half-bow, and Becky returned his laugh, sliding her arms around his waist as they entered the dance floor. Sam, a few feet away, shot Claire a grin.

"Looks like Dean's got a fan," Claire said, slipping a little closer to Sam.

"Yeah, I know," Sam answered, moving his hands tighter on her back. "It's great. I love Becky, and I am a fan of anything that gets Dean to stay."

"Sam, I don't think he needs any other reasons," Claire said, pointedly looking at Sam. Looking down for a second, Sam grinned.

"He actually turned down a job from my dad." Leaning in closer to Claire as the music got louder, Sam spoke into her ear. "First time ever."

"See!" With a laugh, Claire wrapped her arms around Sam's waist. "I told you, Sam, he loves being here with you. I don't think he's going anywhere."

That Monday, Sam came back from his last class bearing a late lunch for him and Dean, to find Dean bent over a college courses catalog for the local community college. "I'm thinking about taking a class or two, in their adult education program," Dean said as way of explanation, feeling Sam's hopeful stare.

"Cool," Sam answered, settling the food down on the counter and sitting next to Dean, fighting hard to keep the smile off his face. Soon both Dean and Sam were up early in the morning, books ready, a quick breakfast together and then off to class.

The first time Sam walked in on Dean packing up for a hunt, Sam dropped all his books on the floor, accidentally loudly alerting Dean to his presence. Dean looked up to be met with a very familiar pair of puppy dog eyes.

"You're not leaving, are you?" Sam asked, moving closer. "My class got canceled. I thought we could take Claire and Becky out to lunch."

Dean looked down at the guns already in the duffel bag, the one shotgun full of rock salt still to be packed, and shook his head with a smile. "Nah, it sounded like a one-man job anyway," he said, leaving the duffel bag on the table and following Sam out the door.

The second time, Sam didn't even have to say a word, just walk in, and Dean didn't even look back at the bag. There was no third time.

Until one day, when Sam and Dean got back to their apartment after taking Claire and Becky to the theater, to find their father standing behind their couch. John strode up to Dean, immediately looming in his face. "What the hell have you been thinking, Dean, blowing off my orders?" John bellowed. "How many hunts have you missed?"

"Whoa, whoa, back up!" Sam yelled back, tapping a hand lightly on Dad's shoulder. "You have no right to come in our home and start-"

"Your home?" John scoffed in disbelief. "How long did you think this would last, Sam, huh? Before Dean chose to come back to me and hunting? Really, Sam, c'mon you've always been smarter than that."

"Don't talk to him like that!" Dean shouted, moving his way between Sam and John.

"You know what Dad, I can't listen to any more of your bullshit," Sam muttered in disgust, grabbing his coat and heading out the door as fast as he could. As he walked for a few blocks, Sam had to admit to himself the main reason he had left. He had been sick of listening to his father, but he had also been afraid he would hear Dean say "Yes, sir" and take off.

Sam realized as he passed his favorite diner, now their favorite diner, how much he loved the life he and Dean had built together. He had his big brother there, right in their home, everyday, and he had even found love again with Claire. Hell, Dean was head over heels for Becky, and even though he was Dean and hated any expressions of chick flick moments, Sam knew Dean loved their life too.

So when Sam made his way back to the apartment, and saw the Impala was gone from its usual parking spot, he felt like his heart literally plummeted out of his body. Sprinting up the stairs, he moved so fast he tripped over his own feet, slamming his head into one of the steps.

Ignoring the pain, Sam flew up the other stairs, shakily inserting the key into the lock, barely able to turn it enough to open the door. Flinging the door open, Sam was met by a very startled Dean, who quickly put down the glass of water he was holding.

"Sammy, you're bleeding," Dean said in concern, moving forward and lightly pulling Sam's hair back, wincing at the blood that flowed freely from a nasty cut. "What happened?"

Barely able to catch his breath, Sam grabbed the back of Dean's head, pulling him in for a tight hug. "I thought you left."

"Left? Sammy, why would you think that?" Dean hugged his brother back tightly, and could actually feel him shaking.

"The Impala was gone." Sam let Dean lead him over to the table, where Dean settled in with the first aid kit, cleaning out and bandaging Sam's cut.

"Haven't had to do this for a while," Dean joked, then grew serious as the full implication of Sam's words kicked in. "Sam, remember, someone took our parking space? So I parked around the corner."

"Oh. Yeah." Smiling sheepishly, Sam winced as Dean pulled the bandage tight. "So…you're not leaving?"

"No Sammy, I'm not leaving." Punching him lightly in the shoulder, Dean stood up, throwing the wrappers in the garbage. "I told Dad I had class tomorrow."

Letting out a snort of laughter, Sam leaned back in the chair. "You didn't."

"Oh yes I did, Sammy my boy." Laughing himself, Dean sat back down in his chair. "And I told him that I wouldn't be going hunting again. Ever." Sam stared at him, and Dean moved his chair in closer , lightly resting his hand on Sam's shoulder. "Becky told me, Sam. She told me how when you were at Stanford by yourself, you would jump every time the phone rang. When she asked you why, you told her you were afraid it would be your father, calling to tell you your big brother had died."

"She told you that, huh?" Sam looked down at the floor. Feeling a hand lightly pushing on his chin, Sam looked up to find Dean staring at him, a gentle smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

"Yeah. And I'm thinking I'd rather not do that to you again." Standing up, Dean went over to the fridge, grabbing two beers and setting one down in front of Sam.

"Because you love me?" Sam said it in a joking manner, purposefully making his voice sing-song and childish. He watched Dean rummage through the cabinets, looking for the bread Sam had just bought.

"Yeah, of course I do Sammy," Dean answered, moving to another drawer. He was met by complete and utter silence from behind him, and quickly turned around to see Sam staring at him, looking so much like five year old Sammy that it stopped Dean in his tracks. Dean quickly dropped the bread he had finally found, moving over to Sam and kneeling next to him. "God Sam, has it really been that long since I told you that?"

"It's…been a while," Sam admitted, blinking rapidly in a failing attempt to pretend there was only an eyelash in his eye. Laughing shakily, he ran the sleeve of his hoodie over his eyes. "First I think you're leaving, then the stoic Dean Winchester is actually saying "I love you"…what's next, alien invasion?"

"Oh c'mon, I'm not that stoic…" Seeing the look Sam shot him, Dean looked down, taking in a breath. "Ok, so maybe I am. But no more. I promise."

"Dean, I'll believe that when I see it." Sam laughed at the mock wounded look on Dean's face. "You didn't actually even say the words, you know. You kinda grunted and went "Yeah."."

"Oh, I see, so a grunt isn't good enough for you then." Reaching over to his beer, Dean took a swig, staring down at his bottle for a minute, then back up to Sam's face. "I love you, Sammy."

"I love you too, Dean." Smiling, Sam reached over and patted Dean's hand. "See now, that wasn't so hard."

"Yeah, ok, maybe it wasn't…bitch." Smirking, Dean took another drink of his beer, choking in astonishment when Sam smacked the bottom of the bottle, shooting half the beer down Dean's throat.

"Yeah, well, keep it up then…jerk." With a laugh, Sam reached over, slapped his brother's back hard, and then headed to the shower.

"We still on for lunch tomorrow?" Dean called over the sound of the running water.

"Of course!" Sam called back. "And I was thinking we could take Claire and Becky to that new Italian place Friday night!"

"Sounds perfect." Smiling, Dean pulled his textbooks over to him, continuing his work on his paper. Tonight, he and Sam had plans to order in pizza and watch the basketball game. Tomorrow there'd be lunch, but more importantly, there'd be tomorrow, together.