Title: Here By Me
Author: kaly
Category: Gen, pre-series
Rating: K
Spoilers: none

Summary: An accident brings about understanding. Sam's eight and Dean's twelve.

Notes: Huge thanks to geminigrl11 for test-driving this story for me! Oh, and the title is from a totally unrelated song by 3 Doors Down but it just seemed to fit so I ran with it. :)

Disclaimer: Not mine. The pretty, snarky, angsty brothers belong to the WB.

Here By Me

"Hey, kiddo! Dinnertime!" Dean yelled, standing in the kitchen doorway. When there was no answer, he tried again. "Sammy! Grub!"

With a sigh, Dean walked down the short hallway to the bedroom they shared. "Yo, Sammy," Dean said, knocking on the door as he pushed it open. "I said..." Dean's voice trailed off when Sam looked up guiltily. Rather, Dean thought, he looked like he'd just been busted in their Dad's room as opposed to their own.

"Be right there," Sam said, shifting from foot to foot. He gave Dean a large smile, asking, "Did you make something good?"

Suspicious, Dean narrowed his eyes and took a step closer to his eight-year-old brother who was busy hiding his hands behind his back. "What are you up to?"

"Nothing," Sam replied, a bit too quickly for Dean's liking.

Dean nodded. "Uh huh..." he agreed, but took another step closer. He paused when Sam backpedaled, keeping the distance between them the same. "Sammy, what's behind your back?" he asked, gesturing toward Sam's hidden hands with a jerk of his chin.

"Nothing," he repeated, taking another step backward.

Shaking his head, Dean caught up to his little brother, pulling his arm around to the front. When that hand was empty, he gestured for Sam to hold out the other hand. "Come on. Let's see."

Sam's cheeks flushed red as he shook his head. "No."

"Sammy..."

"You'll just get mad," Sam said, a pout beginning to form.

Dean closed his eyes, taking a deep breath and forcing himself to count to ten. Sam could be very good at trying what little patience his dad had taught him. "I won't get mad," he promised, hoping it would be true.

Sam almost seemed to deflate before he held out his hidden hand - revealing an eight-inch long, curved blade.

"Sammy!" Dean exclaimed, reaching for it.

"You said you wouldn't get mad!" Sam yelled as he jumped backwards just out of Dean's reach.

What happened next, to Dean's eyes, seemed to happen in slow motion. One second Sam was standing in front of him, defiant. The next he was stumbling backwards, over the bed's footboard, and falling toward the floor. The knife flew from his hand as he landed and Dean just missed grabbing his shirt to catch him.

Sighing, Dean reached out to help his little brother up from the floor only to freeze at the sight of blood blossoming on Sam's shirt. Sam's cry pulled him from his stupor and Dean dropped to his knees beside his little brother.

"Sammy..." Grabbing the threadbare blanket from the bed, Dean wrapped it around Sam. "Come on, we need to get to the bathroom."

Sam sniffled, looking up at Dean with wide-eyes, tears brimming but refusing to fall. "Dean?"

Shaken, Dean tried to smile at Sam. "It'll be okay," he insisted, rushing Sam into the bathroom. Dropping Sam onto the closed toilet, Dean pulled the blanket away and gingerly lifted Sam's shirt free. He sucked in a breath at the vivid red cut that sliced across Sam's shoulder.

Sam hiccupped and Dean had no doubt he was trying not to cry out as he gingerly pressed around the cut. "It's okay, Sammy," Dean whispered, still focused entirely on the wound. Luckily it wasn't too deep, but it was long and still bleeding.

Standing, Dean jerked the medicine cabinet open roughly, sending toiletries scattering across the floor. Once he found the peroxide and bandages, he dropped back down in front of Sam. "We'll take care of this, okay?"

"Dad's gonna be mad," Sam mumbled, chewing on his lip.

Gingerly pressing a cloth doused in peroxide against the cut, Dean shook his head absently. "Don't worry about Dad. I'll take care of it."

"I don't want you to get in trouble neither," Sam said with a sniffle.

Dean rolled his eyes, trying not to smile. "It'll be okay. But listen to me next time, okay Sammy?"

Sam nodded, looking miserably at Dean but said, "I just wanted to look at it. You never let me."

"With reason, don't you think?" Dean asked as he carefully covered one end of the cut with a bandage.

"I know," Sam whispered. "But how can I help you if I can't try?"

Dean paused at that, looking up at Sam's face - unable to miss the sincerity that brightened his eyes. He smiled, ruffling Sam's hair. "Helping doesn't always mean weapons. You help."

"But I want to keep you safe," Sam said, full serious. "Like you do for me."

His throat tightening, Dean nodded. "I know, Sammy. Just let me take care of you for a little while longer, okay? We'll save the rescuing till you're at least in junior high, how about that?"

"Aww, man," Sam whined, but couldn't seem to help the smile that curved his lips.

Finishing with the bandages, Dean checked to make sure no blood was seeping through. Once satisfied, he began to clean up the mess he had made so their dad wouldn't complain. After he was finished, he looked at Sam who was still sitting on the toilet, watching him.

Almost as an afterthought he grabbed the small bottle of children's aspirin. "Here," he said, handing the small pink pills to Sam. "These will help." Sam chewed them with a grimace before standing.

"Come on, we need to find you a shirt and get rid of this one." He grabbed Sam's bloody, torn shirt and wadded it up into a ball. "Maybe we'll get lucky and Dad won't ask where it went," he muttered under his breath as he led Sam from the room.

While Sam went over to the small, battered chest of drawers to find a shirt Dean retrieved the knife from where it had fallen. He placed it high on a shelf in the closet, hoping Sam wouldn't be able to reach it there. Better safe than sorry, he couldn't help but think.

"Here, let me help," Dean said, seeing Sam struggling with the new t-shirt.

Once the shirt was on, Sam wrapped his arms around his brother's waist. "Thanks, Dean," he whispered.

Rolling his eyes, Dean returned the hug briefly. "Don't worry about it. But can we eat dinner now? I'm starving!"

When Sam let go, giggling, Dean felt relief wash over him. The fear that had filled him at the sight of Sam's blood faded and he smiled, following Sam to the kitchen. If Sam could laugh, then he knew everything would be okay. He just hoped their dinner was still edible.

end