Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural, or any of the characters, unfortunately.

As Dean ducked behind the door, he shot a glance at Sam. This was supposed to be a routine poltergeist, and they had only come all the way out for it because the girl on the other end had mentioned she was an old friend of their father's.

But she had failed to mention this was not an average poltergeist, but a medieval one with a full arsenal of weapons, including some nasty looking arrows that were now being fired their way.

Sam's eyes suddenly widened as he saw something behind Dean, and Dean turned around to be met by another poltergeist, one that had come out of nowhere. Dean was sent flying against the wall, and when he first heard Sam's scream he thought it was only out of fear for him.

Staggering to his feet, Dean could only see his brother's back, the poltergeists having vanished as quickly as they had appeared. Stepping over, Dean put a hand on Sam's shoulder, and suddenly Sam collapsed, Dean barely able to catch him before he hit the floor.

Not even realizing he had screamed, Dean stared in horror at the three arrows protruding from Sam's stomach, blood making thick lines down Sam's white t-shirt. Gently lowering Sam to the floor, Dean rested Sam's head in his lap, pulling out his cell phone. He had to dial 911 three times before successful completion, his hands were shaking so hard.

The call completed, an ambulance promised, Dean took his jacket off, trying to figure out a way to stop the bleeding. He didn't know whether he should pull the arrows out or not, or how to quench the flow of blood without pushing the arrows in further. Helpless, Dean wrapped the jacket around Sam's shoulders, holding his little brother to him tightly.

Suddenly Sam's back buckled, and he let out a terrible scream of pain, his hands clutching at Dean as his body writhed on the floor. Dean choked back a sob, grabbing his brother's hands and holding on tightly, feeling Sam's fingernails cut into his skin. "Sammy, Sammy, it's ok, I'm here, it's all going to be ok," Dean whispered frantically, staring at the arrows, trying desperately to figure out what was going on.

And then he saw it, saw Sam's blood turn black and bubbling as it exited the wounds, watched in anguish as a thin trickle of blood exited Sam's screaming mouth. "Oh god, Sammy," Dean's voice shook so hard the words were indiscernible. "Poison. Sammy, stay with me, stay with me, the ambulance will be here any second."

As if called by his words, a siren was heard in the distance. Paramedics came rushing in, and lifted Sam onto a stretcher. They tried to disentangle Sam and Dean's hands, but found it an impossible task, neither brother willing to let go. So Dean ran by the side of the ambulance, climbing in beside Sam, rambling incoherently to the paramedics when they asked him what had happened, only able to say "Sammy" over and over again as he held on for dear life.

Sam's only response to Dean was a constant clutching of his hand as Sam's body bucked and writhed, the poison spreading its way through his system. During those terrible moments, Dean wanted nothing more than to somehow take the poison into himself. He'd take the pain into himself if it meant Sam wouldn't have to hurt anymore.

So when Sam was wheeled into a hospital room, and his grip on Dean's hand suddenly dropped away, Dean knew something was wrong. He didn't need the heart monitors suddenly screeching their one line monotone, or the doctors and nurses flying around the room in a well-organized panic until one shoved him out the door.

Dean leaned heavily against the door, sending everything he had to Sam. "Sammy, please," he chanted desperately, not noticing or caring about the people staring at him. "Sammy, please, you've got to be ok, you've got to be ok. Please, Sammy, please."

The door suddenly opened and the color completely drained out of Dean's face at the sympathetic look the doctor gave him. "I'm sorry, your brother didn't make it." The doctor continued talking, but Dean didn't hear another word. His knees buckled and he slid down the door to the floor. Staring straight ahead, tears streaming from his eyes, Dean knew he should get up, should do something, anything, but he couldn't remember how to stand.

Dean heard the doctor's words as if they came from miles away, something said to a nurse about "a grief counselor". But Dean couldn't remember how to speak-hell, he was barely breathing at this point. Collapsing in on himself, he somehow ended up lying on the floor, not knowing or caring how he had gotten there.

A woman came up to him, a kindly businesslike tone to her voice, and her words floated in to him. "Dr. Benson…counselor…someone you can call?" Getting no response, she knelt down, gently touching Dean's shoulder, miming making a phone call.

Dean nodded, barely able to see her through the cascade of tears. His hands were trembling so badly he couldn't even get his hands in his pockets. Taking out her cell phone, Dr. Benson handed it to him. He instantly dropped it. "Why don't you give me the number?" she said softly, and Dean forced his father's number from his lips. She dialed, and listened, then hung up. "Voice mail."

Nodding again, Dean gave her Missouri's number. The simple task over, he lost focus again, turning until he was leaning up against the door to Sam's room. The sobs caught in his chest, racking his body. Raising his fist, Dean stared at it for a second, then suddenly slammed it into the door, over and over, until his knuckles shattered and bled.

He felt a hand on his arm, but shrugged it off, slamming his broken skin into the door again. Then he screamed, long and loud, screaming "Sammy" until the needle forced into his arm shot him into oblivion.

When his body forced him back into consciousness, he was in a hospital bed, not hooked up to any machines, not even in a hospital gown. He was just laying there, Missouri's kindly face hovering around him.

"Oh baby," Missouri whispered, and just those two words were enough. Dean sat up and wrapped his arms around her, clutching the back of her shirt. Hot tears rolled down his face as she rocked with him in her arms, murmuring soothingly as she rubbed his back in small circles.

"Sammy, he's gone, Missouri, he's gone," Dean's voice was rough and hoarse. Only later would he find out he had been screaming Sam's name in his tranquilizer-forced sleep.

"I know baby, I know." Missouri perched on the side of Dean's bed, still holding onto him as he sobbed into her shoulder. "I know it hurts, Dean."

"He, he was screaming in pain, Missouri, and I couldn't do anything, and then he was gone." Dean whispered into her soft shirt, his head pounding.

"I know, Dean, you've got some pretty clear visual images locked into your brain." Missouri's hand moved to Dean's chin, and she cupped it, forcing his bloodshot eyes up to look at her. "Baby, why don't we get you out of here? Get you to a hotel room."

"I need to see him," Dean said urgently, sliding out from the bed. His knees buckled, and only Missouri's firm hand on the small of his back kept him from hitting the floor. Missouri kept her hand there as Dean made his way down to the hall and to Sam's room. Unable to go in right away, he rested his forehead on the door, tears slamming into the cold tile floor.

"I told them not to move him until you were awake," Missouri said softly.

"Thank you. Thank you for coming. I…I don't know how to do this, Missouri. I have no fucking clue how to live without him!" Dean's fingernails dug into the soft wood, and he felt Missouri's hand on his shoulder. Taking a deep breath, Dean swung open the door.

As his eyes fell on the still body of his brother, Dean turned quickly, dropping to the floor as he retched painfully. "Oh god," he whispered, his voice cracking. Missouri grabbed the garbage can and put it under his head, Dean violently losing the breakfast and lunch he and Sam had shared that day.

"It's ok baby," Missouri said gently, bringing him a paper cup full of water. Dean tried to take a sip, but couldn't, just the feel of water on his lips bringing around another round of retching.

Rising shakily, Dean staggered over to Sam's bed. Sitting on the side, he grabbed Sam's cold hand, bringing it to his heart. "Sammy, I don't know how to do this," Dean sobbed out, his tears coming fresh as he brushed the hair off Sam's pale face. "I don't know how to live without you, little brother. I miss you so much, and I've…Sammy, I've got years left without you and I can't do that. It's just this horrible big empty space stretching out there, and you're not going to be there. And I wish…god, Sammy I wish so much. I wish you were still here. I wish…I wish I'd told you I love you, because I do, more than anyone ever, little brother."

Dean suddenly couldn't breathe, couldn't speak, and he let his head drop onto Sam's shoulder, wrapping his arms around Sam's motionless body. Suddenly Dean's head came back up, and he looked over his shoulder at Missouri. "Something doesn't feel right," he said softly, staring down at Sam.

"Of course it doesn't honey," Missouri said gently.

"No, I mean…Sam and I, we have this…this connection, and I still feel it." Dean lightly rested his hand on Sam's cheek.

"Baby, you'll always feel it," Missouri said softly, stepping over and putting both hands on Dean's shoulder. Leaning back into her, Dean stared down at Sam, his tears staining Sam's blood-covered shirt.

"Goodbye, Sammy," Dean said, his voice a strangled sob. He let Missouri lead him out the door, and into her car. Dean couldn't even look at the Impala. He doubted he'd ever be able to touch it again.

When they got to the motel, Missouri gently steered Dean into a room, leading him over to one of the beds. "Baby, I need to take care of something," she said. "Why don't you go take a shower and I'll be right back?"

Dean nodded numbly, barely making it into the bathroom. As soon as she heard the water start, Missouri hurried around the room, grabbing all the guns and weapons she could find and sticking them in the trunk of her car. Picking up her bag, she walked back out to her car. "You're right, Dean," she muttered, starting her car. "Something's not right here."

Missouri drove to the morgue, slipping in the back entrance after slipping the guard a $50 and a sob story about her husband. There was already someone there, leaning over an open drawer. As she stepped closer, Missouri could see a young woman, whispering something as she placed her hands on Sam's chest.

"Hey!" Missouri yelled, and the woman whipped around. Missouri instantly recognized her from pictures the boys had sent, warning her about how dangerous the woman was. "You would be Meg."

Striding forward, Missouri laid a protective hand on Sam's arm, and suddenly she understood. "He's not dead," Missouri whispered, as Sam's anxious thoughts about Dean shot up to her.

"No, he's not," Meg said smugly, staring Missouri down. "But he will be as soon as I finish the spell. Then he'll be gone, Dean will be incapacitated, and I'll have his powers. It was so easy, making that phone call, setting up that phony poltergeist job for them with those lovely cursed arrows. I should have figured out a long time ago that the only way to split Dean and Sam up would be with death."

"Somehow I doubt even that would do it," Missouri answered, discreetly reaching into her bag behind her back. Feeling for the right bag, she yanked it out, dropping the contents onto Sam's prone body.

"I don't think you're taking into account that I'm not just some teenage witch," Meg snarled, bringing her hands back to Sam's chest. She suddenly shot back as though burned, staring at her blistering palms.

"And I bet you were too damn cocky to think anyone would come do a protection spell," Missouri shot back. "You can try to touch him, but it won't do you any good."

Staring furiously at Missouri, Meg stepped forward, but Missouri pulled another pouch out of her bag, holding it in front of her. "You just try it, and I'll burn your whole damn body," Missouri said calmly.

"This isn't over," Meg growled, but she made no attempt to get near Sam or Missouri again. Instead she turned, her lithe body slipping out the open window. Missouri slammed the window shut, then quickly turned her attention back to Sam.

"It's going to be ok, baby," she whispered, watching him for a few minutes. Then, nodding to herself, she reached into her bag, taking out a small vial. "She thinks a little highly of her spells, that Meg does." Tipping the vial into Sam's mouth, Missouri smiled as the color instantly started to come back into his cheeks.

Suddenly Sam shot up, coughing violently, but very much breathing. Smiling broadly, Missouri gently wrapped her arms around his shoulders, holding him as his body shook with newly-rediscovered breath. "Dean?" Sam gasped out, looking up into Missouri's face.

"You were in a suspended state, honey, you heard what he said," Missouri said softly. "He's not doing any better." Seeing the look of panic on Sam's face, she gently squeezed his shoulder. "I took away all the weapons. He won't be able to do anything to himself." Sam relaxed, leaning into Missouri's shoulder as the coughs finally died away.

"I need to get to him," Sam said frantically, scrambling out of the bed. He immediately bent over double, grabbing his stomach.

"You may not be dead, Sam, but you did still get shot," Missouri said, sitting him down in a chair. "Let me get you a nurse. You need your stomach wrapped."

"What I need is to get to Dean," Sam insisted, but Missouri kept her hands firmly pushing down on his shoulders.

"If you actually die, Sam, that won't do him a lick of good." Staring up at her for a second, Sam nodded wearily, and Missouri led him to the car, driving him to a different hospital than the one he had originally been admitted to. The wrapping took little time, as neither Sam nor Missouri had to come up with a cover story for why Sam was now not dead.

Climbing back into the car, Sam stared out the front windshield. Missouri lay a hand on his arm. "I'm going as fast as I can, baby," she said, taking a curve at breakneck speed.

"He sounded like he was dying," Sam said, so soft Missouri almost missed it.

"He was, Sam," Missouri said gently, slamming around another curve. "He doesn't know how to live without you. He said it himself."

"I heard." Sam wrapped his arms around his chest, hugging himself tightly. "What do I say to him? I've never ever heard him like that before."

"Just tell him what's in your heart, baby," Missouri said with a smile, casting a quick glance on him. "I read those thoughts, Sam, and they're exactly what he needs to hear."

The car had barely screeched to a stop in front of the motel before Sam had leapt out, ignoring the pain searing through his recently-stitched wounds. Grabbing the key Missouri tossed him, Sam threw open the door.

The room was completely destroyed, the table flipped over and broken into pieces, lamps and their light bulbs lying in shattered configurations on the floor. The cheap painting had been ripped down from the wall and was now impaled on a chair leg. Sheets and towels were strewn in tiny pieces everywhere.

In the midst of it all huddled Dean, clasping a small picture of him and Sam in his quaking hands. He didn't even look up at the sound of the door opening. He didn't look up until he heard a shaky, achingly familiar voice whisper, "Dean?"

As Dean's eyes met Sam's, Dean leapt up, and later Sam would swear he had never seen Dean move that fast in their lives, not even when running away from demons or towards saving someone. The impact of Dean's body slamming into Sam's almost sent Sam careening into the wall, but he held his ground, stabilized by his big brother's arms holding him so tightly Sam could barely breathe.

Sam felt Dean's head pressed against his chest, and he realized Dean was crying, sobbing into Sam's shirt. Wrapping his arms around Dean, Sam buried his face in his brother's hair, not even realizing he was crying too. "I'm here Dean, I'm never leaving you, I promise," Sam whispered, and he could feel the moment Dean finally relaxed, his body sagging into Sam's and Sam holding him upright in his arms.

Keeping his arm around Dean's shoulders, Sam led him over to one of the beds. Neither brother broke contact, Dean keeping a hand on Sam's arm like he was holding on for dear life. "How?" Dean managed to get out, taking a deep steadying breath.

"He was in a suspended state, Dean," Missouri said, turning a chair over and settling into it. "It was a spell, by Meg, to steal Sam's powers, whatever they might be right now."

"That bitch," Dean growled. "I'll kill her, I swear-"

"Not now, Dean," Sam said softly. Dean took one look at Sam's face and sat back down.

"Sammy, I…" Trailing off, Dean took another deep breath, his eyes meeting the floor. "I thought…I mean…"

"I know, Dean, I could hear everything everyone said." Stealing a glance back to Missouri, who nodded at him with a smile, Sam lightly touched Dean's chin, forcing Dean's eyes to meet his. "I always know you love me, Dean, and I always love you too."

A smile stuck on Dean's face, and Sam was relieved to see he wasn't crying anymore, deep breaths now rising and falling naturally. "Well good, cause I wasn't offering to say it again," Dean said, and Sam laughed, punching Dean in the arm.

"Good to see you're still a jerk," Sam laughed.

"And you're still a bitch," Dean said, affection mixing with his joyful laugh. A yawn spread across his face, and Sam stood up from the bed, pointing to it.

"Sleep Dean," Sam ordered. Dean looked like he was about to fight the order, but one look from Missouri and he complied, crawling under the covers and resting his head on the pillow.

"You boys sleep tight," Missouri said, heading for the door. "I'm thinking I'll get a room next door, rest up before my big car trip back." Winking at the brothers, she opened the door.

"Missouri?" Dean called out. She turned around. "Thank you." Smiling at him, Missouri stepped outside and closed the door.

Sam changed in the darkness, throwing his blood-stained shirt into the trash can in the bathroom. Crawling into the other bed, he settled in under the covers. Suddenly, Dean's voice broke the stillness.

"Hey Sammy?" Dean said hesitatingly.

"Yeah Dean?" Sam answered, flipping over onto his side so he was facing Dean.

"Can you…why don't you sleep over here tonight? And breathe really loudly?" Dean's voice was so heartbreakingly close to a sob again, and Sam slid out of his bed without hesitation, climbing into Dean's.

"I'll snore extra loud," Sam said, and the laugh echoing from Dean's throat brought a grin to Sam's face.

"You always do," Dean answered. As Sam drifted off to sleep, he felt his brother's hand come to rest on his arm. Their pulses beating together lulled both boys to a peaceful sleep.