This is just a little tag for 'Something Wicked' and has nothing to do with the other stories I've written. I hope you enjoy it! Phoenix

Brother to Brother

-The Story-

Dean Winchester was hurting, but in a good way as he stood in front of the shtriga and put a couple more rounds in its head for good measure. He had finally done it – killed the bitch that had taken his last shred of innocence all those years ago… and this time he had saved Sam.

The alternative was unthinkable as there was no John Winchester to ride in to the rescue at the last moment, this time. Thank God for good timing.

Behind him, Dean could hear his brother's gasping breathing and he gave a small smile. It was finally over.

Michael, the motel owner's son stood beside them, his young face a mixture of disbelief and disgust as he looked down on the creature.

Dean turned to say something to Sam when his eyes widened in horror and he just managed to catch his brother when the younger man swayed on his feet and then passed out. "Sammy!"

Quickly he moved the unconscious hunter to Michael's bed as the boy moved out of his way.

"Is he okay?" the kid asked, watching with large worried eyes as Dean checked his brother's pulse and breathing.

Dean glanced up and then gave a curt nod. "Yeah."

"What's wrong with him?" Michael pressed, as the man pulled a blanket up over Sam and then sat on the bed next to him. His brother's raspy breathing was the only sound for a few moments.

"I dunno-" Dean finally admitted, "after effect of the attack… I think." His brow furrowed as he thought back to what happened seventeen years earlier and then he nodded, more confident sounding. "Yeah. That's it. He'll be fine in a bit."

He remembered his father bundling him and Sam into the back of the Impala… At the time, Dean thought his brother was only sleeping but thinking back on it with a more mature mind, he realized that his little brother was most likely unconscious, having passed out a few minutes after the attack stopped. He'd held the 'sleeping' boy all the way to Pastor Jim's and then haunted his brother's every moment after that.

The fear of how close he had come to losing Sam awakened in him a new level of protectiveness… One that stood as strong now – maybe even stronger – than it did that night.

"I guess having your spiriotos – spiriotos… life force sucked out of you by a demon is tiring," he added, mentally berating himself for how long it had taken to recover and fire on the creature after being tossed into the closet. However, that door was not exactly made out of cardboard, as his aching back and ribs could attest to now that the adrenaline was moving out of his system. The attack had stunned him for a few seconds but during those precious moments…

Dean shivered at the memory of seeing the shtriga feed off his brother. The horrified look on Sam's face was one that would haunt him for a long time.

"So he's your little brother?" Michael's voice interrupted.

"Huh? What? Oh yeah," Dean's gaze traveled over his sleeping brother, looking for any other signs of injury and thankfully finding none. "He is."

"You never said before," Michael admitted as he watched them. "I just thought he was your friend-" he smirked, "or partner."

Dean shot him a look and when Michael feigned innocence, the man shook his head and failed to hide his own smirk.

"Asher is my best friend," the boy admitted after a moment as he looked at Sam. "Pain in my ass too, but he's a good kid, all things considered – " he paused and added, "and most definitely the coolest little brother."

"Oh I dunno about that," Dean said lightly glancing at the kid, "I think my little brother could give yours a run for the money."

"He'd probably win too with those freakishly long legs," Michael shot back and this time the older man actually laughed:

"A boy after my own heart…"

"You guys don't look like brothers," the kid observed bluntly.

"Why thank you," Dean grinned. "As you can see, I'm the good looking one."

Now it was the boy who laughed.

"What?" the hunter demanded, indignantly.

"Nothing – he's taller than you," Michael mentioned.

Dean glared at him. After a minute he shrugged. "So? I can still take him."

The kid's eyes widened, "You'd beat up your own brother?"

"I never said that-"

"Yes you did!"

"Did not!"

"Did too!"



Dean held up his hand. "I am not going to argue with some six year old punk."

"I'm thirteen!" Michael glared at him and then they both burst out laughing again.

"You're a jerk," the kid grinned.

"Yeah. So I've been told," Dean glanced at his brother, "Frequently."

They sat in silence for a few moments. Dean sighed and pressed his hand against Sam's forehead. Although he was sure his brother would be all right and he was just recovering the strength the shtriga took from him, he wouldn't feel better until Sam woke up and bitched at him.

"You're still worried about him, aren't you?" Michael observed quietly.

"I never stopped worrying," Dean admitted, pulling his hand back and fixing the blankets a bit.

"Me neither," the boy said softly. His large eyes were luminescent. "Do you think it helped Asher? Killing that thing, I mean?" He glanced over his shoulder at the still smoldering black robe lying on the floor. The creature was gone – literally melted into nothingness.

Dean followed his gaze and sighed. "I don't know, Michael… but-" he looked back at Sam, relieved to see him stirring, "I have a good feeling."

Michael smiled and stood up. "Me too," he admitted and then yawned and looked at the clock. "It's three-thirty in the morning. Man, my mom would kill me if she knew I was still up!"

"I won't tell her," the older Winchester promised and the kid flashed him a smile and then he tilted his head towards the ex-shtriga.

"Good 'cause than I'd have to tell her about that… and I'm not sure that's a place I want to go."

Dean chuckled, "No, I expect not."

Michael moved towards the bedroom door, "You guys can stay here for a bit – I'm going to lie down in my Mom's room."

"S'okay-" came a hoarse voice, "You can stay… here."

"Sammy!" Dean couldn't hide his relief at hearing his brother's voice and seeing the younger boy blinking him into focus as he struggled to sit up. "How you feeling, dude?"

"Like crap," his brother admitted, wincing as he rubbed his jaw. When he saw the concern on Dean's face, he gave a small smile and added, "But okay-" he paused and added, his hazel eyes shining with something akin to worship. "Thanks Dean."

The older boy rolled his eyes as he reached out and gave Sam's shoulder a gentle squeeze anyway. He stood up, "Always with the mushy stuff, huh kiddo?" He never gave his brother a chance to answer as he held out his hand to pull Sam up from the bed, "Let's get outta here and give the kid back his bed before you get drool on his pillow or something."

Sam hesitated briefly before accepting the help to his feet, swallowing hard when the change in position made his head spin for a moment. He looked across at the floor. "What about that?" He looked at Dean. "We can't just leave it here."

"Oh I don't know," Dean deadpanned, "I think it kinda adds something to the room– " he paused and then lightly smacked his brother across the back of his head. "What do I look like? An amateur or something? Course we're taking it with us- "he winked at Michael, "you never know when you'll need a new nightdress, Sammy boy."

"It's Sam." The younger boy corrected as he slowly moved towards the door. "And I thought you were the one with a thing for black."

Dean screwed him a nasty look and then grinned. "Only when you're wearing it darlin'"

"Okay… You guys are seriously beginning to creep me out here, " Michael cut in and then grinned and moved to open the door for Sam. "You really okay?" he asked, searching the tall man with his dark brown eyes.

Sam paused and smiled. He glanced for a moment at Dean and then shrugged, "With him as a brother? Yeah. I'll be just fine." He paused, "And you?"

"Hey, I am a big brother," was all Michael said by way of an answer. The young hunter chuckled softly, shook his head and moved out the door.

Dean pulled out a pair of plastic gloves, slipped them on and then picked up the shtriga's robe, holding it away from his body, his face screwed up in disgust.

The kid laughed, "You always carry plastic gloves?"

"Hey, in my line of work, you never know when they'll come in handy," Dean defended. He paused by the door and looked at his younger counterpart. "You're a good big brother, "he said watching the boy's face light up with the praise.

Michael nodded and shrugged. "I have to be. It's my job."

Dean pursed his lips thoughtfully and then agreed. "There are worse jobs."

The kid laughed and Dean already knew he was about to be made the butt end of a joke before the boy even spoke. He wasn't disappointed.

"True. I could be your big brother!"

"Hey!" Dean feigned indignation, ruffled the boy's hair and then hurried to catch up to his own brother. Behind him, he could still hear Michael's laugh as he closed the door.

Sam was sitting on the bed when Dean came in the room. He watched silently as his brother tossed the horrid robe into the fire place and then lit it; thankful that this motel room actually had one; a rarity in these days. Something to do with liabilities and insurance…

"You okay?" he asked after a few minutes when the older hunter remained crouched in front of the fireplace watching as the last of the material was burned away.

"Huh?" Dean glanced over his shoulder at him and then stood up. "Yeah, just thinking."

"Wow. Don't hurt yourself," Sam teased lightly as he kicked off his shoes and stretched out on the queen-sized bed.

"Screw you," Dean said with no heat in his voice. He sat down on his own bed and regarded his brother with an oddly serious look on his face. "I was just thinking about how things might have been different if I hadn't froze back then, you know? But if I'd killed that sonofabitch when he first attacked you…"

Sam sighed and turned his head to look at Dean. "And what'd you come up with?"

"I dunno," he lied, rubbing his eyes tiredly not really wanting to go into it with his brother. "But I sure as hell know one thing-"

"Oh and what's that?" Recognizing that his brother wasn't going to share those thoughts, Sam closed his eyes and settled his head back on the pillow. Man he was wiped…

"We would have stayed in that shitty little motel room for another night or two and I would have gotten my chance to beat the high score on that game. Man, I was so close!"

Sam fumbled around for something to toss at his brother but found nothing as Dean laughed, stretched out on his bed and leaned over to turn off the night light. "Night little Sammy."

"Night big jerk."

The grin faded from Dean's face as soon as he was sure his brother wasn't watching him. He sighed, opened his eyes and looked up at the ceiling as he heard Sam's breathing even out and knew the younger hunter was asleep.

No… he could never tell Sam what he had figured out while crouching in front of the fire and watching the shtriga's robe disintegrate, because deep down he was sure that if the events of that night had played out any differently, then Sam would not be here now. Sleeping and breathing in a queen sized bed only a few feet from him….

Sam would be dead.

Dean knew it. That one scare had taught him and taught him hard, and without that lesson, he was sure the next time he slipped up would have been fatal – his father's timing would not have been so good – and he would have lost his brother.

As it was he was thankful for two things:

Firstly, that the shtriga had not come to them until the third night his father was gone. On the very night John Winchester was due to be home; and second…

The shtriga had reminded him about the fragility of life and importance that the actions of one person could make in that life… particularly when that person was a Winchester.

Closing his eyes, Dean let out another heavy sigh and drifted off to sleep.

-The End-