Disclaimer: I do not own "Supernatural"

Author's Note: This is a post-shadow fic that I've been toying with. This is chapter one of two. I really enjoyed "Hell Hounds" and noticed that in the passing reference we get about "Shadows" it seemed the like argument had been hashed out and they'd agreed to disagree.

I meant to show that in this fic. But I... I just have a thing with bloody, hurt Dean. :) So yeah, I got that out of the way this chapter and next chapter will deal with the actual discussion.

I hope you enjoy!


There just weren't any words; there were things to say, but just no words. What could either brother say that would fix this? That would mean anything at all?

So they drove and in the silence Dean swore he could hear the drip of their blood. He could feel his, Sammy's, Dad's... could feel it drying over his hands. The scent of it filled the car.

He knew they couldn't drive forever. He knew they couldn't be silent forever-- but god, what words could he possibly use? What could he possibly say?

He'd told Dad to go.

For one goddamned brief moment he'd had his family back, together.

But he'd told Dad to go; because going would keep Dad alive, because going would make him stronger, because he loved his father so fuckin much that he was willing to let go of his own desires.

And as the dark highway stretched before him he knew he would do it again. He would do it for Sammy.

You're gonna hafta let me go my own way...

He'd said, the little shit; and god-dammit... Dean knew it was true.

He will let Sammy go his own way— for the same reasons he'd let his father go... because he loves Sammy, because letting him go will ensure that Sammy live a longer, happier life... and what more could Dean want for the little brother he'd practically raised?

The little brother who was silently bleeding next to him...

"We need to pull over." He said, almost wincing at the sound of his own voice.

Sam nodded, but didn't say anything.

Dean shifted, feeling the warm blood dripping from the gashes on his chest.

But blood he could deal with. With blood he knew what to do. How to stop it from flowing, how to clean it up, how to get it out of upholstery...

Blood he knew.

Words.

Words were something different. Words weren't his thing; words were Sammy's thing…

So why wasn't Sammy using them? He thought suddenly, shooting his brother a quick glance. Sam was usually the one to talk, the one who insisted they discuss what had just happened.

A flash of panic washed over him suddenly, "You okay?" he asked, tightening his grip on the steering wheel.

Out loud the question sounded preposterous… of course he wasn't okay….

"I mean… no excessive blood loss or anything?" He added after a beat.

The car remained eerily silent.

"Sam!" There was a touch of panic in Dean's voice now and he glanced at his brother again, slowing the car down.

When the younger man turned to look at him, but didn't respond, Dean pulled the car over.

"Get out of the car." He ordered.

Sam blinked, "What? What for?"

"I'm checkin you over. Are you bleeding?"

"Of course I'm bleeding. So are you! Or did you miss the thing that nearly tore us all to shreds!"

The sharp anger in Sam's voice caught Dean by surprise. He'd assumed his brother was as numb to the whole thing as he was. Assumed that Sam too, was trying to process everything that had just happened—everything this had all meant.

Dean felt numb.

Apparently, Sam did not.

He blinked, "Sam—" he began, but the younger man cut him off.

"Just drive, Dean. Or switch with me and I'll drive… but let's just get the fuck out of Illinois."

Dean stared at him a moment, still surprised at the tone, the anger… his hands automatically reached for the ignition, and with unconscious movements he pulled back onto the road.

For the next two hours, he drove in silence.

The motel they pulled into had a flashing red vacancy sign; it wasn't the first one they'd seen— but it was the first one out of Illinois.

"Check us in, I'll park the car." Dean ordered his little brother, his tone cold.

Sam silently obeyed, grabbing his duffel on the way out.

Ten minutes later, the two met outside the motel and Sam handed Dean a key. They entered the room silently, dropping duffel bags, and surveying the area with the cold, professionalism of the hunters they were.

"Do you want the shower first?" Sam asked, roughly.

"No." Dean replied shortly.

For a moment their gazes met— one dark, the other golden— both glassy with anger; neither knowing what to say, what to do about it…

Sam broke the eye contact, searching through his duffel, getting out what he needed and retreating to the bathroom.

Dean had had a good two hours to work himself into a cold fury. Silent hours in which he'd gone over the past day over and over again…

He stared at the closed bathroom door, his hazel eyes glowing. Where the hell did Sam get off being angry? Sam was the one who'd fuckin fallen for Meg in the first place?

He snorted in disgust; leave it to little Sammy to not know when he was being played by a chick. He winced as he sat down the bed, then scowled—right, the Davaes and their mementos.

In his cold fury and indignation at Sam's attitude he'd managed to put the trickling, wetness on his face and on his chest, the itchiness of drying blood, the gashes on Sam's face that would need stitches, out of his mind.

He remembered now.

Carefully, he stood back up and headed back to the car. They'd left the first-aid kit in the car.

Remembering, he realized, sucked; suddenly it all hurt again. His chest, his face, he ribs… he imagined Sam wasn't in much better shape. Dad hadn't been kidding when he'd said they were beat to hell. Not that that was anything new… it was a matter of course lately…

Lately a job wasn't finished unless one or both of them was bleeding.

Lately things had gotten so much harder, so much tenser, so much more complicated…

It was colder outside, now. Darker. The air was thick, harder to breathe in or maybe that was his problem and not the air's...?

Either way he found that he was a little breathless by the time he reached the Impala. Breathless and tired. Very tired—but after today… who wouldn't be?

He slid into the driver's seat and sat back for a moment, catching his breath, before reaching to get the kit.

Battered.

That's what he felt, battered— physically, mentally… emotionally.

Seeing his Dad; feeling those arms close in around him, locking him up in complete safety; watching Dad and Sam hug… it had been… a relief. The lifting of a burden so heavy he hadn't realized he'd been carrying it until it had suddenly vanished.

Suddenly, he'd been able to breathe…

And just as suddenly, it had all been torn away.

His family, together, had been attacked; ravaged, nearly shredded to death—talk about symbolism.

A tremor coursed through him catching him by surprise and he wondered how long he'd been out here. It seemed even colder now, darker…

The relief had vanished as abruptly as it had come and the burden had returned. It's weight nearly overwhelming now that he was aware of its existence.

Blinking suddenly heavy-lidded eyes, he tried to sit up and found that apparently he was just too tired to do that right now. He frowned a little, as his eyes slid shut; he hadn't thought he'd lost enough blood to pass out…

The floating sensation that carried him towards darkness begged to differ though and he sighed softly, letting himself get carried away, letting his thoughts drift and fade…

The darkness offered the blessed promise of relief—even if it was temporary, even if it was false…

Shit, he thought abruptly, and perhaps a bit deliriously, had he lost the bartenders phone number?

Sam was angry.

Anger.

It was the only emotion he could clearly identify at the moment. He knew, could feel, that there were other things swirled in with that anger, but at the moment anger was the only one he could deal with.

He couldn't deal with watching his father drive away, with feeling the man's arms around him, with Deansending their Dad away…

He hadn't been surprised when he'd exited the bathroom and found the room empty. Dean was pissed too.

He'd sensed that. Dean had worked himself into a fury on the drive here and Sam was grateful, because right now all he really wanted to get into-it with someone. He wanted to yell and scream and possible hitsomething or maybe even someone—the "someone" being his brother.

His brother who'd fuckin spilled his guts about wanting their family together and then sent their father away.

Those four words made his blood boil. Dean had told their Dad to leave. It was incomprehensible to him. If he hadn't seen it with his own goddamned eyes he wouldn't have believed it.

Dean had come to him in the first place to find Dad! Because they'd wanted, because he'd wanted, to find Dad, Sam had gotten pulled back into this fuckin world and then he'd sent him away!

He paced the room waiting for his brother to get back from wherever the hell he'd decided to go at this time.

He sighed roughly, wincing as the motion hurt his face—his face. A face that needed to get stitched up and bandaged, he remembered. It had been a gruesome sight in the bathroom mirror. Bloody, jagged gashes running down his cheek; he'd left them mostly alone, just pressed a towel with warm water against them. They'd forgotten the alcohol in the first-aid kit… in the car…

He ran a hand through his hair as he slowed his pacing… he should go get that. Dean had gashes on his face too and god knew the dumb-ass never treated his wounds on his own.

Rolling his eyes, he set out for the car.

He didn't panic when he saw the driver's side door to the Impala open. He didn't panic when he got closer and saw one of his brother's arms hanging, limply outside the car. He didn't panic when he ran over and found his brother unconscious in the car.

The panic came when he checked his brother over realized that Dean was still bleeding and bleeding in his car, at that.

"Dammit, Dean." He hissed, trying to quell that panic, "What the hell are you doing out here anyway…?"

He felt for his brother's pulse. It was too slow, but steady… for now. He needed to stop the bleeding, but first he needed to get him back to their room. "Dean!" he tried, shaking him a little, "Come on! I need you wake up a little…" he stated, "I can't carry you like this…"

He shook him a little again, "Dean! Come on, man, I need your help!"

His brother moaned a little, "… lost it…" he muttered, "… number…"

Sam frowned, "Dude, wake up… come on…"

Bleary, hazel eyes flickered open, "…Sammy…?"

Had Sam not been feeling the tendrils of his previous anger still lurking around his system, he would have labeled what he felt at hearing that voice and seeing those eyes as relief, but he was still feeling them. So he gave the emotion a passing regard before squelching it.

"It's Sam," he muttered, as he slipped his arms around his brother's torso, "We need to get you back to the room…"

Dean nodded vaguely, his eyes sliding shut again.

"Stay awake!" Sam snapped, then winced with shame when Dean jerked in his hold, causing him to gasp in pain. Heavy-lidded hazel, eyes stared out into space.

"You're heavy when you're unconscious…" Sam added more gently, adjusting his hold.

Dean didn't say anything—the lack of reaction bothered Sam.

Carefully, he hauled his brother out of the car. Straightening slowly and backhanding the car door shut.

Dean was nearly unconscious again by the time they reached their room. Gasping for breath, sweating, bleeding…

Sam's panic was coming back. "Okay… just…" he said, as he slowly led Dean to one of the beds, "… sit here okay… I'll be right back…" he murmured as he lowered Dean onto a bed.

Again no reaction, not even a vague nod. Sam stared at him a moment, the panic building before he turned around and ran back to the car. He returned less than a minute later—Dean hadn't moved.

He set the first aid kit on the bed. Then carefully, began removing Dean's shirt, aware that glassy, golden eyes followed his every move.

He gasped, when his brother's chest was exposed. Three perfect, and deep, claw marks ran along the older man's torso. The skin around them raised and red, all of them still slowly, oozing blood.

His dark eyes shot up to meet Dean's, "Why the hell didn't you say something!" he cried, the accusation in his voice doing nothing hide the sudden spike of panic that risen up in him.

Dean frowned a little, as if he didn't understand.

Sam scowled, "Lay down." He ordered, but even as he said the words he gently helped his brother slide down in the bed.

Dean grimaced, but didn't make a sound, his gaze still hazy.

Sam got up and pulled a chair over; he rummaged through the kit and pulled out a few supplies, with a grimace of his own, he wet a cotton swab with alcohol and before giving either of them the chance to think, pressed it against one of the gashes.

"FUCK SAMMY!" Dean yelled, suddenly wide awake, as he jerked under his brother's touch.

Sam's hand remained firm and he used the other to grip his brother's arm, reminding him to hold still.

"GET OFF!" Dean cried, reigning in every instinct that cried for him to jam his fist into his brother's face.

"You know it has to be done."

The older man clenched his jaw in silence, knowing that Sam was right.

A moment later Sam lifted the swab, tossed it aside and wet another one. Before pressing it down, he brought his brown eyes to meet Dean's— he was still pissed at his older brother—really pissed actually, but…

… he wished he didn't have to do this. He didn't like to see Dean in pain…

"Just do it." Dean commanded, reading the reluctance in Sam's gaze. He turned his head away.

Sam nodded, swallowed hard, and pressed the swab to the second gash.

Dean's reaction was more restrained this time since he was expecting it. He clenched his fists and closed his eyes, his mouth clamped shut as he struggled not to scream. Instinctively though, he still jerked against Sam's hold.

A few seconds later, Sam stopped swabbing and tossed the material aside. "Last one," He murmured, as he prepared the next swab.

Dean nodded, pale and breathing hard, the effort not to scream exhausting him even more, "Yeah… then the… real fun… can start…" he murmured, "… stitches?" he asked.

Sam studied his brother's chest critically for a moment, "The last one I think… the other two, maybe not."

Dean nodded; his eyes were sliding shut again.

"Last one," Sam repeated, his mouth drawn into a tight line.

Dean's self restraint cracked on this one and he screamed, banging on the bed with the arm Sam wasn't holding down, "ENOUGH! STOP!"

"Just let me get all of it, Dean…" Sam whispered his throat tight. Shit. He hated this. He hated hurting Dean. How the hell was he supposed to be mad at his brother after he'd done this to him?

"Okay, alright…" he whispered a few seconds later, lifting the swab and tossing it aside.

Dean's body instantly went limp on the mattress and his eyes fluttered shut, "Shit, Sammy…" He panted, "… shit."

Sam nodded, agreeing wholeheartedly with the sentiment.

"Good news though," Sam stated, studying the gashes.

"Hmmm?" Dean murmured, tilting his head towards Sam a bit, but not opening his eyes.

"Without the blood covering it, it looks the last one doesn't need stitches after all."

Dean swallowed hard, "Good," he murmured, his voice was hoarse and rather faint.

Sam sighed, digging through the first aid kit, "Don't fall asleep yet we're not done."

Dean's eyes flickered open, "You're enjoying this aren't you." He muttered accusingly.

Sam smirked a little, "Well there was that time you made me train with the flu." He reminded his brother as he started bandaging the gashes.

Dean snorted, "You—were—so faking." He gasped, as Sam pressed the first bandage into place.

"Was not—I had a fever."

"Only— a little— one."

"I was coughing."

"Only sometimes."

"We trained for an entire hour." Sam persisted as he worked on the second one.

Dean swallowed hard, the world shifting a little and his eyes closing of their own accord.

"Stay with me, bro." Sam urged, his voice sounding far away, "I need you to sit up… did you hit your head or anything?" he asked, suddenly worried all over again.

Dean drew in a shuddering breath, but didn't respond.

"Dean!"

Squinting a little, Dean opened his eyes a bit.

"Did you hit your head?" Sam asked.

"… no…"

"Are you sure?" Sam asked, turning away from him and looking through the kit again.

Dean nodded a little, "Yeah," he whispered.

Suddenly, Sam shined a light into his eyes, "Aw, fuck Sammy!" he growled, turning away and bringing his arm up to shield his face, "What the hell!"

Sam shrugged, "Good your pupils contracted," he reached out and grasped his brother's chin, turning him back towards him, "Look at me."

Dean grunted and opened his eyes, blinking at his brother, "… personal space… dude…" he muttered, scowling a little.

Sam pulled back, releasing his brother, "They're even too."

Dean turned his head to the side, closing his eyes—he was so tired, "I told you…"

Sam shrugged, "Yeah, well…" he muttered, as he slipped an arm underneath Dean and lifted, "… you're a dumb-ass so I had to check anyway." He said simply, "Here take these… they'll help with the pain."

Dean frowned, "I'm not… a dumb-ass…" he murmured, with a lot less heat than he would usually use to respond to such a comment. Sam brought a glass of water to his lips when he'd put the pills in his mouth.

The water felt so good… he hadn't realized he was so thirsty.

"Careful, slow down…" Sam murmured. When the glass was empty Sam set it aside and gently laid Dean back down. Dean's eyes slid shut almost immediately.

Sam quickly moistened a few small swabs and began dabbing at the slash marks on Dean's face, remembering that he had to do the same to his own.

Dean tried to turn his face away, "… stings…" he whimpered.

"I know," Sam said softly, reaching out and holding his brother's face steady, aware that Dean was more than half asleep.

"… not a dumb-ass…" Dean added, sleepily, his eyes fluttering open.

Sam scowled, remembering… "Yeah, you really are a dumb-ass…"

Dean too scowled, or tried to; it was hard to tell when everything around you seemed almost surreal, "Shut-up." He murmured.

"You couldn't have told me you were this hurt?" Sam stated, finishing up with his brother's face and tossing the swabs aside.

"… I could've…" Dean murmured, his eyes were closing again, his breathing already beginning to even out.

"Not only that… but…" Sam knew now was not the time to bring it up, hell his brother was nearly passed out from blood loss, but—really… it had to be said, he had to say it, "… you told Dad to go… dammit Dean, you told him to go…!"

"… yeah…"

The simple answer ignited Sam's temper, "Why!" he roared.

Dean frowned lightly, his eyes closed, his mind more asleep than awake, "… it's what you do… when you… care… if they hafta go… you let go…"

The words slurred together and a moment later Dean was deeply asleep.

Sam stared at him. Glared at him, to be exact; with barely contained violence he stood up and began rapidly pacing the room again.

Dean had let go because he cared about their Dad—fine. But Sam cared too, about their Dad, about Dean, about this fuckin battle that just would end. It had been a mistake to let their father leave. They had to find this thing. And they were close, closer than ever—close to ending it. All of it.

Dean said it would never end; there would always be something to hunt…

But it could—their hunt could end.

It was mistake to let their father go when they were so close, he was sure of that. Together they could end this sooner, work faster, be stronger…

His gaze trailed back to his sleeping brother—or they could put their father in danger, watch him be killed, know that it was their fault…

He sighed, feeling the anger drain again… this time taking the panic with it. The adrenaline too was gone… and suddenly he just felt… tired.

Today had just been… too much. They'd come so close and now… they were so far.

They were at the beginning again.

Dean stirred suddenly, interrupting his thoughts, and Sam quickly made his way over to the bed. Dean tossed his head a little, muttering, then suddenly his body tensed and his eyes shot open, he fastened a glazed, sightless gaze onto the ceiling while he gasped for breath.

Sam sat on the edge of the bed and placed a hand on the side of Dean's face, "Shhh, you're okay," he murmured, "Relax…"

It took another moment, but slowly the hazel eyes slide shut and Dean relaxed into the bed. A moment later his breathing evened out again.

Sam dropped his hand and studied his brother's pale features—the slashes a ghastly contrast. It could have been worse, he thought. It all could have been so much worse.

And now…

Now they were at the beginning again. He sighed softly, changing hisposition on the bed so he could lean back against the headboard.

They were back at the beginning.

At least they were still together, he thought suddenly, that had to count for something, right? The fact that they hadn't killed each other yet…

He smirked a little, yeah… that definitely counted for something. His gaze dropped down to Dean again and he rested his hand in his brother's hair, "You are so such a dumb-ass," He murmured, fondly.


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