Casualties

By infinite shadow

Disclaimer: Nope. I still don't own Supernatural, the Winchester men, the Impala (please let it live!), Joshua, Pastor Jim or anyone else recognizable in the following story. No money was made so please don't sue.

Author's notes: First and foremost I know nothing about medicine. That said I've had one or two concussions in my lifetime. I've taken what I can remember about them and used them in the story. I've tried to look up information on the web but there is some conflicting information out there so I went with what felt right.

A very big thank you to my best friend lynxlan for betaing and helping me out with some of the parts I was having trouble with.

0000000000000

They'd been well versed in the art of triage by their ex-marine Dad John Winchester. One month of reciting terms and reviewing various scenarios with their Dad in the car as they drove to different hunts was the beginning. Followed by a month of gruelling and intense training, gaining first hand experience with some of John's ex marine buddies. A month of broken bones, concussions, stab wounds, and stitches on fake patients who could act the part of the wounded soldier, most acting out similar events from a battlefield from years ago.

The sessions with holy water and various sundry supernatural healing practices were done in secret later. Dean had loved the time spent with the soldiers. He'd known it was serious business but the guys were great. The soldiers had joked with him and his brother and told them stories of their time serving when they had a few minutes of downtime. They'd even heard some funny stories about their Dad.

Dean had excelled under the conditions. He was a fast learner and took to the intensity well. After the training had been finished he wondered if he wasn't a hunter if he would go into the medical field. Not meatball surgery as one of the medics had called it. Maybe more like sports medicine.

After a few years on the road, hunting, scheming, saving people and barely making it through his science classes he no longer had lofty thoughts of being a medical doctor of any kind, or any other dreams of jobs. He had his calling and his duty. He was a hunter and a damn fine one.

Or so he had believed. After what had happened tonight he started doubting his own skills as a hunter.

An oncoming car lit up the Impala's interior making Dean scrunch his eyes up at the offensive light. Then he brought up a hand to wipe away some of the blood that had been dripping into his eyes since he'd struggled to get his broken and bleeding family into the car.

A low moan from the back seat made him press down on the accelerator and the Impala sped faster through the dark night.

"Dean?" A small voice asked.

He glanced downward to where Sammy lay beside him on the bench seat. Without thinking he put a hand on his little brother's head.

"It's gonna be ok Sammy. Just hold on," Dean said feeling a wet stickiness on his hand and bile burned his throat.

"Hurts," Sam whispered.

"I know it does but you're gonna be ok," he said hoping his voice didn't betray the fear coursing through his body.

Sam shifted closer to his brother resting his head against his thigh. Dean moved his hand to Sam's back and kept it there for a moment. He could feel the tremors running through Sam's body and he couldn't find any words of comfort for him.

Another passing car lit up the car again as Dean pulled his hand away. Blood. His hand was covered in his little brother's blood. Swallowing convulsively he turned down an unmarked road as his hand slipped on the steering wheel.

After all the training and the exercises this wasn't something he could fix on his own. He could barely see straight as he brought the Impala to a screeching halt outside an old farm house.

Dean hoped he had followed the directions that his father had given him earlier that night properly. His Dad had been worried something would go wrong and for the first time on a hunt he'd given him specific directions to a safe place. It wasn't just a matter of hurrying back to the motel room and treating each other's wounds as well as they could.

Dean held onto the steering wheel and closed his eyes as he waited for the dizziness to pass. Sam moaned on the bench seat beside him and Dean laid a hand on the younger boy's head.

"S'ok Sammy. Help's coming," he said not liking how his words slurred together.

His head snapped up sharply as the porch light came on and he swallowed a groan. A silhouetted figure could be seen stepping out onto their porch with a shotgun in his hand. Dean knew it would be ok when the figure hastily put down the weapon and ran down the steps.

"John!" Joshua shouted as he came closer to the car.

Dean struggled to open the door and stumbled out to meet his fathers long time friend.

"Je-sus," Joshua breathed when he got close enough to see Dean. "Sit down boy before you fall down."

"Dad. Sammy," Dean croaked out as he trembled in the cool night air.

Joshua gently pushed him back down so he was sitting in the car with his legs sticking out of it. "Who's worse?"

"Dad," Dean whispered. "I'll get Sam in just take care of Dad."

Joshua looked at Dean for a moment before opening the back passenger door. "Oh God," he half swore and half prayed.

Dean sat there watching Joshua manoeuvre his Dad out of the car and into a fireman's carry in his peripheral vision.

"Get into the house Dean," he said quietly. "I'll come back for Sam."

Dean shook his head at Joshua's retreating back. "I'm not leaving him," he whispered.

He got up, turned and leaned into the car. "Hey Sammy you awake?" He asked quietly putting a hand to his little brother's cheek.

"Dean? We home?" Sam asked.

"No we're not. You gotta sit up Sam," Dean asked.

"Hurts," Sam whispered.

"Yeah I know it does. Give me your arms," he said.

Sam didn't move for a moment then his arms unwrapped from his middle and lifted them in the direction of his older brother's voice.

Dean grabbed hold of his brother's forearms and hesitated. "This may hurt," he warned.

"Ok," Sam whispered.

Dean pulled on him until he was a little closer to the door and berated himself silently as Sam whimpered softly at the fresh pain in his chest. His brother was his responsibility to keep safe, not cause him pain.

He put down his brothers arms and pulled him out of the car as gently as he could. Helping Sam onto his feet he kept one hand on his shoulder to keep him steady, not liking how his brother was holding his chest tightly and leaning on the car.

"Sammy can you walk? We gotta get inside," Dean said softly.

Sam began to shake as one arm wrapped tighter around his middle and his other arm pulled away and his hand tentatively reached out. "Dean?"

Dean caught Sam's hand in his not missing how his brother jumped at the gentle touch. He put his other hand under Sam's chin and pushed up lightly so he could see his face better. There was a deep gash just above Sam's eyebrows and what he thought was bruising below his eyes. His eyes were swollen shut from the wounds.

"I'm here Sammy," Dean said. He glanced up at the farm house and then back to his brother.

"Where? " Sam whispered.

At the fear in Sam's voice Dean picked him up knowing that he wouldn't make it into the house under his own steam. "You're getting a little big for this. Another foot or two and you'll be taller than me."

Sam struggled in the grip slightly until he wrapped his arms tightly around his brother's neck.

"Where's Dad? I heard him scream," Sam whispered.

Dean tightened his grip around him and started towards the farmhouse. "I know. I heard him scream too. He's inside already."

"Didn't it get you?" Sam whispered resting his head on Dean's shoulder.

"Yeah Sam. It got all of us good," Dean said. He stopped to lean against the railing of the stairs and closed his eyes. The stairs looked so steep.

"Dean why can't I see?" Sam asked.

"Your eyes are swollen up from the fight. You've seen me with black eyes, right?" Dean asked and felt his brother nod and move his head closer to his neck. "Well now you have a matching pair. When the swelling goes down you'll see again."

"Dean?" A voice called out from above them.

Sam gasped and tightened his hold on his big brother. "Don't let it get us again!" He whispered his soft tone was laced with panic.

"Sam we're safe here," Dean said and gasped slightly as his brother's hold got even tighter, his tired muscles fuelled by adrenaline and fear. "Hey I've never lied to you and I'm not going to start now, ok?"

Sam nodded against his shoulder and loosened his hold slightly.

Joshua came down the stairs. "Let me take him Dean."

"No. S'ok. I got him," Dean said and he forced himself to stand straighter. He started walking up the stairs grateful for Joshua's steadying hand on his back and he allowed them to be lead into the large farm house.

"In here," Joshua said leading them into a room.

"Where's Dad," Dean demanded as he looked around the room and didn't see his father.

"My room. He's stable enough for the moment. Now put Sam down so I can check him out," he said.

"No Dean, please," Sam pleaded and started shaking.

"I can't fix you up this time. We're at Joshua's. Sammy, Dad trusts him so we do too, ok?" Dean said.

Sam was quiet for a moment. "Don't leave?"

"I'm not going anywhere. Promise. You need to be strong here little man. Can you do that?" Dean asked.

"Yeah, I guess," Sam said and loosened his grip on his brother.

Dean watched as Joshua moved the sheets back on the bed then he lay Sam down making sure his wounded head gently touched the pillows.

Joshua paled at the sight of Sam's injuries. "Your father has no right to drag you boys through his crusade," he said quietly.

"Dad's a good guy," Sam said defiantly and struggled to sit up. "Dean?"

Dean sat down beside his brother. "Sammy's right. Dad is one of the good guys. If you won't help us then show me where the supplies are and I'll do it myself," he said quietly as he put a hand on his brother's shoulder to keep him lying down.

"Son I never said I wouldn't help you. I don't know how you're still conscious anyways," Joshua said shaking his head. He left the room for a moment and returned with a large water bottle and some clean rags. He handed them to Dean.

"I don't know what you boys have been fighting. That's holy water and those are clean cloths. Just tore up new sheets. Start cleaning his wounds. I'll tend to your father and be back," Joshua said and left the room.

Dean shifted slightly on the bed so he was sitting closer to his brother. He blinked a couple of times trying to focus on him better. "Ok Sammy where does it hurt?"

"My head and arm kinda hurt. But my chest hurts more, " Sam said as he pointed to his chest where his jacket had been torn.

Dean put the supplies on the nightstand beside the bed. "I need you to sit up," Dean said as he put his hands on Sam's upper arms and helped him up. He took off Sam's jacket and t-shirt he was wearing. Sam shivered under his touch from the cool air hitting his skin.

He swallowed at the sight of his little brother's chest and paled even more. It was an amazing array of colours - black, blue, red and grey. As gently as he could Dean probed the area with his fingers not letting Sam curl away from his touch. He was relieved that he couldn't feel any broken bones, they were just severely bruised. That could bring its own complications later, but for now at least they weren't broken.

His arm looked like it was just bruised slightly and if he remembered clearly he thought Sam had landed on that side after he'd been thrown. It was the side that had the bruised ribs and it made sense, even if he couldn't remember clearly. He was sure that it wasn't sprained or broken anywhere. Dean looked closer at his brother's wrist; well maybe his wrist was sprained.

As he continued his examination of his little brother he found several cuts and bruises marking his young skin. It was one of the hazards of their jobs, but Dean couldn't help but feel guilty. This was his younger brother; nothing was supposed to happen to him. He was supposed to protect him and make sure that he was safe. It was his job. The one job that was more important than being a hunter, and he'd failed. Hell he'd failed both Sam and his Dad tonight.

Dean dampened the cloth with holy water and began to clean his brother's wounds. Sam hissed slightly at the pain from the contact to his wounds.

"Easy Sam," he said softly as he saw his brother clench his jaw muscles and try to take a few steadying breaths.

"What'd I do wrong?" Sam asked in a small voice.

Dean looked up from his brother's bloody chest surprised at the words. How could he think any of this mess was his fault? "Sam you didn't do anything wrong."

"But Dad and you got hurt," Sam said.

"So did you," Dean said quietly as he went back to cleaning out the wounds. He was quite sure that a few of the wounds would require stitches. He'd have to find Joshua and see if there was a med kit around that had some. "Sometimes hunts go wrong Sam and we get hurt."

"But not like this," Sam whispered.

"Yeah sometimes like this little brother," Dean said. "When you were younger we tried to hide the worst of the hunts from you. Sometimes they go bad and we get seriously hurt."

Dean put down the holy water and blood stained rags on the nightstand. He felt around his brother's head and found a large lump. "I need to you turn over so I can check your head."

Sam turned onto his side curling into a ball. Dean looked at where he had felt the lump and found a large gash. He remembered placing his hand on the back of his little brother's head while he was driving and decided that this is where the blood had come from. Looking closely at it he determined that the cut was only surface deep and long. He knew from his training that head wounds could bleed a lot and not be serious. The cut wasn't deep enough for stitches and it had stopped bleeding. There was a large lump forming around it and that was something of concern.

"Does your head hurt a lot Sammy?" Dean asked quietly feeling around for any other damage on the back of his head.

"Yeah," Sam said. "It kinda hurts back there, but my face and chest hurt more."

"All right," Dean said leaning back and touching Sam's shoulder guiding him to lie on his back again. He pulled up the blanket around him. "I'll be right back. Don't move out of this bed."

Sam's lips turned up in a ghost of a smile. "Where would I go?" he asked quietly as one hand fiddled with a thread that was coming off the blanket that covered him.

"With you I'm never sure," Dean said lightly giving his shoulder a quick squeeze and slowly got off the bed.

He staggered around the house one hand on the wall for support until he found the kitchen. Opening the freezer door of the fridge he hoped to find some ice and found an ice pack. He took it and the towel that was hanging on the stove handle and returned to his brother. Dean paused for a moment in the doorway and Sam's head tilted in his direction.

"Dean?" he whispered.

"Yeah, it's just me little man," he said. When the slight dizziness had passed he moved over to the bed.

"Not little," Sam said his lower lip sticking out slightly. He jumped slightly as Dean sat down beside him on the bed.

Dean paused for a moment. "Well you're smaller than me," he said smiling as Sam frowned trying to find the logical argument to his comment and came up empty. "Don't think so hard, it'll just make your headache worse."

Sam's head tilted to the side slightly on the pillow. "How'd you know?" he asked.

"Older and wiser," Dean said as he pulled the sheets back a bit.

"Cold," Sam complained trying to pull the sheets back up.

"It's gonna get colder but it'll make you feel better," Dean said then as gently as he could he lowered the towel covered ice pack over Sam's chest.

Sam gasped. "No! Dean it hurts and it's cold," he said.

"Just give it a minute. You'll get used to the cold and your chest won't hurt as much," he said holding onto Sam's wrists gently to keep him from pulling off the ice pack.

"But," he protested struggling against his brother's hold.

Dean sighed. "Trust me Sam."

Sam fell silent and stopped fighting his brother. Dean let his wrists go and pulled up the blankets up over him. Suddenly Sam reached out and caught Dean's shirt in his fist.

"Sam?" Dean asked not liking how tense his brother went.

"How's he doing?" Joshua asked from the doorway.

"He'll be ok," Dean said as Sam let go of his shirt and seemed to relax a bit. Dean reached out and rested his hand on his brother's arm hoping to calm him further with the simple touch.

"I think he needs some stitches on his chest. I've got the wounds wrapped as well as I could and the bleeding has slowed, but not stopped. He may have a concussion and he's got badly bruised ribs," Dean said and blinked a few more times to clear his vision. Things were starting to blur frequently and he was starting to see double.

"How are you," Joshua asked as he knelt beside the boys taking a good look at Dean.

"I'm fine. Just have to finish patching up Sammy here," he said.

"You lie just like your father," he said shaking his head ruefully.

"Sam first," Dean said stubbornly.

"Ok kid," Joshua said around a sigh. "Little Sammy first."

"He's not little and I'm not a kid," Dean said his voice rising with every word. Only he was allowed to call Sam little. "I'm fourteen!" He shouted at the man in front of him then dropped his head into his hands at the pain that sliced through his head at his own voice.

"Easy Dean. It's ok. We'll get the both of you patched up," Joshua said with his most soothing voice.

Dean took a calming breath and returned his focus back to his brother who had gone pale through the exchange.

"No! No don't let him," Sam whispered grabbing tightly onto his brother's arm and trying to sit up. "Please Dean!"

"Sam I can't see straight enough to stitch you up, but I'm here and I'm not going anywhere," Dean asked and sighed as Sam shook his head against the pillow.

"No," he said a little louder.

"Do you remember when we trained with Dad's friends from the military?" Dean asked quickly switching gears.

"Yeah," Sam said frowning slightly.

"Remember those men told us if anything happened that we could go to them?" he asked. And they had, all on their own, without their father's knowledge. They had all come to him and Sam individually to let them know that if they ever needed a safe harbour all they needed to do was to get to them, or get word to them and they would have a safe place to go.

"Yeah, but I don't remember anyone called Joshua being there," Sam said.

Dean looked over at him.

"That's because I was still serving in the military Sam or I would have gladly been there. Your father and I got real close while we served our country. We were in the same platoon and most of the time we were together. I had his back and he had mine," the ex-marine fell silent for a moment. "Look I'd do anything for your Daddy just like I know he'd do anything for me. Let me help you."

"Dean?" Sam asked and both men noticed that there was less panic in the young boys' voice.

"I'll be right here Sam. I'm not going anywhere and I won't let anything else happen to you," Dean said tightening his grip slightly. "Promise."

"Actually why don't you lay down there beside your brother. You're awfully pale son," Joshua said.

Dean wanted to protest but right at that moment his world began to spin and a disconcerting floating sensation came over him. "Yeah ok."

Joshua helped him to the other side of the bed and sit on the bed. "Let me help you take your coat off," he said.

"No," Dean said pulling the leather coat closer around himself.

He helped him lie down beside his brother then returned to the other side. He opened a medical bag and pulled out a stitch kit. Pulling down the covers he removed the ice pack and put it on the table. Then he removed some of the make shift bandages that Dean had applied to the wounds that needed stitching.

The ex-marine swore quietly to himself. Sam's chest almost looked like a road map with the scratches and gashes. He guessed that they were claw marks.

"Just what were you guys hunting anyways," he asked as he pulled another make shift bandage off the small chest.

"Bear," Sam whispered. "A big scary bear."

Joshua gave Dean a look then focused back on Sam. "Well that must have been one giant bear."

"Actually originally we thought we were dealing with a wendigo, then when we took into consideration the lunar cycle we were sure it was a werewolf. I think it was actually a berserker," Dean said.

Joshua stopped and looked up at Dean. "A Berserker? And they take the form of?"

Dean closed his eyes against the dizziness and tried to remember what he'd found in his research before his father decided it was a werewolf. "A bear. That's what a berserker is. Uh it's a Norse word that means bear skin."

"Right," Joshua said looking lost in thought. "That's the legend that the person was possessed by the bear's spirit giving its strength and ferociousness. Or they would shape shift into the bear itself. There was a similar legend about a wolf. Man I thought they were a myth."

"Yeah. Not so much," Dean said quietly opening his eyes.

Sam tensed as Joshua prodded around one of the claw marks.

"Sam have you had stitches before?" Joshua asked.

"Couple of times. Not many though," Sam said.

"Dad stitched him up once after he fell off his bike and another time when he thought he could fly and jumped off the garage roof," Dean said. "He's never needed much patching up after a hunt."

"I was a lot younger," Sam mumbled.

"Sorry dude, but I tried to tell you only Superman can fly," Dean said.

Sam whimpered as Joshua prodded another area around his bruised ribs. "Dean I want to go home."

Dean sighed and moved a little closer to his brother. He ran a hand through his brown hair, a move that Dean had used for years to calm him after having a nightmare. Something he remembered his mother and father doing for him as a young child. "We can't right now. There aren't that many that need stitches. I know it hurts, but it will get better. I promise."

"Is he allergic to anything?" Joshua asked.

"No, not really. I think he got sick once when he was on penicillin, but I'm not sure if the antibiotic made him sick or if coughing from his bronchitis made him sick," Dean said.

"Has he had anaesthetic before?" Joshua asked as he brought out a needle.

Dean searched his memory but it was foggy and he was having a hard time remembering. He scratched at some dried blood on his forehead. "I don't think so."

"Sam you're going to feel a small pinch on your chest here. I'm just going to numb up the area before stitching you up so you won't feel it," Joshua said moving an alcohol pad over the area where he was going to do the injection.

"You're getting the royal treatment here Sammy boy. Don't expect this again, we don't usually have supplies like this," Dean said softly running his hand slowly through his brother's hair again and looked over at Joshua. "Are you currently practicing Joshua?"

"No. Not for humans anyway. I volunteer at a ranch not too far from here that takes in injured animals and nurses them back to health if they can. Some medicine can be used in veterinary or human medicine including this anaesthetic," he said inserting the needle and giving Sam some of the medication. He pulled out the needle and repeated the process in a few different places around his chest.

"How much are you giving him?" Dean asked.

"There's not much in each location. Look Dean it's just a local anaesthetic. It won't last long, and I want to make sure he doesn't feel anything when I stitch him up. Now you got a problem with that young man I suggest you take it up with your father when he wakes up. For now let me work on your brother," Joshua said as he put the syringe down and picked up the needle and thread.

"How you doing Sam," Dean asked.

"My chest feels funny," Sam said.

"Funny how? Does it hurt?" Dean asked.

"No it doesn't hurt anymore. It just feels kinda tingly," Sam said frowning.

"Can you feel this Sam?" Joshua asked as he pressed down on Sam's chest next to some dark bruising.

"Feel what?" Sam asked.

"That's good. I'm going to start now. Sam you to tell me if you start to feel these stitches, all right?" Joshua asked.

"Ok," Sam said and yawned.

Dean didn't say anything after that for a while as he watched Joshua stitch up his brother. He began to see double and no matter how much blinking he did he continued to see double. Watching the doctor sew up his brother in double vision was the last straw. He tried to swallow back the burning sensation in his throat but it wouldn't go away. Dean rolled off the bed onto his knees and vomited violently into a trash can that was next to the bed.

"Dean?" Sam called out.

"He'll be ok Sam. Stop moving around or you'll have weird scars on your chest," Joshua said.

Dean threw up again.

"Dean?" Sam called out again. "You ok?"

"Never better Sammy," Dean said as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He sat back on his haunches waiting for the dizziness to pass and to wait to see if he would throw up again.

"Dean does your head hurt?" Joshua asked.

"Yeah," Dean said softly. "But it's ok, just finish up with Sam."

"I can do both," Joshua said evenly. "Seeing double too I suspect."

"Yeah," Dean said even quieter than before.

"Well without looking directly at you to check your pupils, I can guess that Sam may not be the only one with a concussion. Where were you cut," Joshua asked.

"Where?" Dean repeated. "Could you specify a location Doc cause I'm cut all over."

Joshua sighed. This one was a smart ass just like his father had been when they served together. "Your head wound. Stay focused Dean. Where is the cut on your head?"

Dean shifted so he was leaning back against the bed and away from the smell in the trash can. He lifted a shaking hand up to his head and felt around. When he felt sharp pain slice through his head he knew he'd found what Joshua was looking for. "Just above the hairline," he said softly.

"Is it still bleeding?" Joshua asked.

"It just started again," Dean said looking at the blood on his fingers transfixed by the shiny red colour.

"Dean?" Sam called out. "Where are you?"

The fear in his brother's voice brought the older sibling to his knees and he struggled back up to the bed. He knew this behaviour was not typical for his brother. Normally Sam would have endured the fussing over him without fear or comment. He would have patiently waited for him or their Dad to finish up without complaint. But a double whammy of a concussion and no sight was a little too much for him to handle.

"I'm here Sam," he said as he sat down on the bed.

"You ok?" Sam asked as he reached out a shaking hand.

"No Sam I'm not. None of us are. But we will be," Dean said quietly as he caught his younger brother's hand in his.

Joshua looked at him and Dean returned the steady gaze, he just wasn't sure which of the two Joshua's he was seeing was the real one. Dean looked away first and looked at his younger brother's chest. There were several stitches on his skin, but it wasn't as bad as Dean had thought it would be. Joshua had put the stitch kit aside and was placing bandages over the wounds.

"Ok Sam you're done for now," Joshua said.

"What about his head?" Dean asked.

"Well like you said he may have a concussion, but I think it's just your generic bump on the head. Only time will tell us for sure," Joshua said almost apologetically.

Dean nodded.

"Now Sam I have a job for you to do. Do you think you're up to it? It concerns your father," Joshua said.

Dean glared at the man. Sam wasn't up for any kind of job right now and using their father was just dirty pool. "No. Sam's not up to it. He needs his rest."

"What is it?" Sam asked.

"Well Sam I won't lie to you about your father's condition. He's in rough shape. I need someone to watch over him and make sure he's ok while I patch up your brother here," Joshua said.

Dean glared harder at all three men in front of him. "I don't want Sam out of my sight."

"But," Sam said chewing on his bottom lip a little. "Dad needs my help. He'd do it for me Dean."

"Yeah he would," Dean admitted reluctantly.

"Ok Sam. Just let me go and wash my hands and find you a shirt to wear. Then I'll take you to your Dad," Joshua said.

"No," Sam said.

"No?" Joshua said his eyebrows lifting slightly. "Look Sam I can't bring your father in here."

"Dean?" Sam said.

"Yeah I'll take you," Dean said softly.

"That's not a good idea," Joshua said shaking his head. "Sam your brother shouldn't be moving."

"He does a lot of stuff he's not supposed to do and I know he wants to see Dad too and he won't let me fall," Sam said confidently.

"I'm taking him," Dean said with as much authority in his voice as he could muster.

"All right, all right," Joshua said holding his hands up chest high in mock surrender. "Just give me a minute and I'll take you both to him. Although it goes against my better judgement to let you do it Dean, but I have the feeling that you'll fight me tooth and nail until you get what you want anyway. Just like your father."

Dean watched the man leave the room and turned his attention back to his brother. "You doing ok there Sammy?"

"I want to go home Dean," his brother said quietly as he fidgeted with the top of the blanket.

"I know you do, but we can't right now," he said quietly.

"But I can't tell where anything is. Everything sounds different, feels different. At home I could do things for myself," Sam said.

Dean smiled. His brother was usually very independent unless something went wrong and then he needed his super hero brother to fly in for the rescue.

"Sammy who are you trying to convince? Me or you?" Dean asked blinking his eyes rapidly to combat the vertigo he was feeling.

Sam was silent for a few moments. "Both?"

"Look Sam I can't look after myself right now, let alone you. I'm not sure how Joshua thinks you're gonna be able to look after Dad," Dean said.

"But I will," Sam said with a quiet determination.

"Ok Sam," Joshua said as he strode into the room. "I think this shirt should do."

Dean helped Sam into a sitting position. "I got it," he said as he took the shirt from Joshua. He gently brought the shirt over his brother's head and guided his arms through the sleeves.

"Ready to go see your Dad now?" Joshua asked.

"Yeah," Sam said.

Dean lurched off the side of the bed and came around. "Can you get off the bed and stand up Sam?"

Sam swung his legs around the side of the bed easily as his chest was still numb by the local anaesthetic. He slowly slid off the bed wincing at the in pain in his hand and Dean reached out to steady him as he stood up.

"Ok?" Dean asked.

"Yeah," Sam said quietly.

"Take two steps forward Sam," Dean said.

Sam took two hesitant steps forward and Dean stepped in behind him.

"I'm right behind you Sam," he said as he placed his hands on his brother's shoulders. "Joshua is in front of you and I'll steer you with my hands. Pressure on the right means turn right, pressure on the left means turn left. Got it?"

"Yeah," Sam said.

"Go Joshua," Dean said quietly not sure how much longer he could stay on his feet. But if his brother wanted him to take him to his father then that's what he would do.

The walked the short distance to where their father lay in Joshua's bedroom.

Dean let out a sharp gasp as he saw their father and stopped cold tightening his hold on his brother. Sam instinctively stepped back towards his brother and leaned against his chest where he thought he'd be safer from whatever had scared his big brother.

Dean couldn't leave his little brother here. No way. He couldn't see. There was no way he should be left here, although it could be a blessing that Sam couldn't see their father. Their father who was always the strongest, the smartest and the quickest of them. Their father who seemed gruff but his gruffness was always laced with love. Their father who was wrapped in so many bandages that Dean wasn't even sure that it was him under there.

"No," Dean whispered and wrapped an arm around Sam's chest. "He will stay with me."

"Dean? Where's Dad?" Sam asked.

"Do you see why I need someone to stay with him?" Joshua asked as he lifted a bandage to check a wound. "He needs someone here in case he gets into trouble."

"Trouble?" Dean half laughed, half choked. "How could he possible get into any more trouble?"

"Dean where is he?" Sam asked from behind Dean's protective grasp.

"Sam you're father's right here," Joshua said. "There's nothing blocking you, just walk towards my voice."

Sam leaned back further into Dean. "Dad?" he called out.

"He's not awake Sam," Dean said softly to him and tightened his grip on his little brother as Joshua stepped over to them and knelt in front of Sam. Dean glared down at him.

"Listen to me Sam. Dean has every right to be pissed with me right now. Your father is not in very good shape and I wouldn't be asking you to do this if I had anyone else that could watch over him. But the fact of the matter is that your father needs someone to look after him. Now I know you can't see Sam, but you don't need to see to be able to tell if he's still breathing properly or if he's woken up, right?" Joshua asked.

Sam was quiet for a moment and Dean was ready to return him back to the other bedroom. He could come back and watch over his father, injured or not.

"Right," Sam said quietly.

Joshua let out the breath he'd been holding. "I'm going to put you up on the bed so you can rest beside him, listen to him and not touch him."

Joshua reached for him but the feral look in Dean's eyes stopped him.

"Are you sure Sam? You don't have to say yes. I can take you back to the other room and no one would be mad at you," Dean said daring Joshua to contradict him.

Joshua sighed deeply. "Dean's right. You can say no. What I'm asking you to do isn't right. It's putting a lot of responsibility on your shoulders and I won't be mad or upset if you say no."

Sam moved his head to the side slightly as he considered it, then tilted his head up as if he were looking at his older brother. "Is it ok if I stay Dean?"

Dean closed his eyes and shook his head. "If you want to Sam you can stay."

"Then I want to stay with Dad," he said softly. "Will you come back and get me later when you're all patched up?"

"Yeah I will," Dean said and squeezed his shoulder slightly as he opened his eyes. "Step forward Sam.'

Dean lead his brother over to the bed, pulled back the sheets and lifted Sam up onto the bed.

"Stretch out on your back and listen carefully," he said watching Sam get comfortable on the bed and pulled the sheets up over him. "Dad is right beside you. Sam he's hurt real bad, worse than the two of us put together. He's got bandages all over covering open wounds that Joshua can't close until the area drains a little. So, and this is the important part, if you touch him you cannot touch him near the drainage tubes, got it?"

"Drainage tubes?" Sam repeated. "That means internal injuries."

"That's right it does. I'm glad to see that you remember that. Now if you feel the need to touch him reach out slowly and if you feel the soft cotton gauze pull back, ok?" Dean asked.

"No he can't touch him at all," Joshua protested.

"Sam what did I just say?" Dean asked.

"Don't touch Dad cause I'll infect his wounds," Sam said.

"Right," Dean reached out and placed a hand on his head. "I'll be back, ok?"

"Ok," Sam said.

"Sam if anything changes or if you need anything just yell and I'll be here. Anything ok?" Joshua asked.

"If I need anything I'll yell," Sam said and yawned.

"Hey no sleeping," Dean said. "You're on the job now."

"Ok," Sam said.

Dean turned and walked out of the room with Joshua right behind him. Dean got three steps out of the room when his confident stride faltered and he began to collapse. Joshua reached out and caught him before he could hit the floor.

"It's ok kid, I've got you," he said and half carried the young hunter into the bedroom.

He sat Dean down on the bed and helped him remove his leather jacket. He swore softly when he saw Dean's t-shirts were soaked in three different places in blood.

"Damn kid, why didn't you say anything," Joshua asked as he cut and pealed the soaked shirts away from his skin.

Dean sat there doing his best to block out the pain. "Sammy," he said through clenched teeth.

When the shirts were finally gone Joshua gently guided him back so he could lay down. He grabbed another syringe of anaesthetic but Dean shook his head.

"Just get it over with," he ground out.

"Dean," Joshua said shaking his head slightly.

"Just get it over with," he repeated. "I need to be awake for Sam."

"You will be," Joshua said as he used the needle anyway. "It will just numb the skin. It will not put you out."

Dean looked up at the ceiling as the medication took effect and found that he could breathe a little easier.

"Now, aside from your chest, which is a mess by the way, where else does it hurt?" Joshua asked.

Dean closed his eyes. It hurt everywhere and nowhere.

"Dean stay with me," Joshua said grabbing his bicep.

"It hurts all over," he said quietly.

"Does any of the hurt stand out more than the others?" Joshua asked.

Dean tried to focus on him and his question. "Shoulder… head… my chest hurt the most before you gave me whatever it was you shot me full of."

"I don't know how you were able to drive here, let alone carry in Sam," Joshua said as he took a closer look at Dean's ribs.

Dean didn't answer him. He thought the answer was so obvious it wasn't necessary to speak it out loud. He'd screwed up. It was his penance. Get them help or die trying.

He watched the ex-marine work on his body in a detached fascination. He could see the a needle go in and out of his flesh bringing the thread along with it. He watched Joshua tie two pieces together, cut the thread and go on to the next piece of skin. The needle would go in and drag thread along with it then get tied together. Repeating over and over again.

"Can you tell me what happened out there Dean?"

Dean looked at the man dressing his wounds. His mouth opened and closed a few times as he tried to find the right words to tell Joshua how miserably he'd failed.

"I missed," he whispered. "Then all hell broke lose."

0000000000000

Earlier that evening the two Winchester boys sat on a motel bed listening to their father.

"Don't argue with me Sam, I know you saw Dean's research on the berserker but it's a werewolf plain and simple. Now do you remember how to kill a werewolf?" John asked.

"Silver bullet to the heart, just like any shape shifter," Sam replied shrugging.

"Right. Now Sam this is important. You do not leave our sights at any time during this mission, understood?" John asked.

"Yes sir," Sam said.

"It real important Son. I need to know you're safe at all times," John said softly.

Sam nodded.

John turned his attention to his oldest. "Did you load up the car like I asked Dean?"

"Yes sir. The guns you specified have been loaded with silver bullets, with an extra clip for each one also filled with silver bullets," Dean said.

John nodded his approval and looked at each of his sons for a moment. "Get your jackets it's time to go."

Dean got up off the bed and grabbed his jacket then tossed Sam his. They followed their father out of the motel room and into the Impala that was parked just outside their room. Their Dad drove a short distance before pulling off the side of the road in the dark.

Dean had no idea how his father could find an unmarked trail in the dark night, but there it was just beside the car.

"Dean you know the drill. Look after Sam, especially if we get separated. Sam stay with us, and if you lose Dean and myself you haul tail back to this car. Understood," John said.

"Yes sir," Sam said quietly from the back seat.

Dean glanced back at his younger brother as their father got out of the car.

"You're a little pale there Sam. Need to hurl before we do this?" Dean asked.

"No," Sam said quickly and shook his head.

Dean smiled slightly. "Cause if you need to it's ok, I hurled on my first job."

"I'm ok," Sam said looking slightly annoyed at his older brother.

"Good. You will stick to me like glue. This is your first real mother of an assignment. You've only done the light weight stuff before and this is going to be a lot different. You will stick with me, you do not lose sight of me and you will keep your gun out at all times. Just don't shoot Dad or I with that wicked aim of yours," Dean said a little more forcefully than he intended.

He hadn't wanted his brother to come on this job. Sam was too young still, he was only twelve years old. Granted he started going on hunts with his Dad when he was ten, but he was different than his younger brother. He'd seen more, heard more, researched more and knew what was out there in the darkness. He knew what would come after them tonight and it wasn't going to be pretty. Sam should be back in the motel room where it was safe.

"Ok Dean. I won't move from your side," Sam said softly.

"Boys get out here," John called from behind the car.

"Good," Dean said and smiled slightly. "Now lets get out there before Dad feeds us to the werewolf."

The boys hustled to the back of the car and took the weapons and holsters that their Dad handed them. They put on the weapons holsters and secured their weapons and ammo.

"No speaking while we're out there. We don't want to announce ourselves to the werewolf," John said then closed the trunk and walked into the forest.

Dean shoved Sam ahead of him and they followed their Dad into the forest. They walked for quite sometime through the darkness the only illumination coming from three small flashlights and flashes of the full moon through the trees. Several times Dean or Sam had tripped over unseen rocks or roots. They picked themselves up and hurried after their Dad who would not slow his stride.

Suddenly John stopped and the boys stopped a short distance behind him. Dean saw the questioning look his brother sent him but ignored it. He was too busy looking around trying to sense or see what his father had.

There! He heard it. The faint noise his father must have heard. One look from his father and he grabbed his younger brother and moved them behind a large rock.

It was the best cover he could see around them. The rock was almost as tall as he was with a flat face that he could lean up against. Dean put his hand on his brother's shoulders and pushed down on it. Sam dropped down to his knees and Dean knelt beside him.

Sam opened his mouth to say something and Dean covered his mouth with his hand. He shook his head slowly looking directly into his brother's fear filled eyes. There was no way they were going to give away their position. When he was sure his brother would not say anything he let him go. He pulled out his weapon and looked meaningfully at his brother. Sam pulled out his own weapon that Dean had made him re-holster after dropping it a couple of times.

Dean removed the safety on his weapon seeing Sam do the same in his peripheral vision. He inched up to glance over the top of the rock to see where his father was but all he saw was a dark outline of a beast walking on all fours and it was coming straight towards them.

He shifted back down so he was leaning back against the rock. Placing his hand on Sam's shoulder he gave him a steadying look. Sam was shaking slightly and took a deep breath to calm himself. Both boys brought up their weapons in their hands with their backs against the rock ready to spring into action.

A howl was heard from far away and Dean didn't know if it came from the werewolf they hunted or a normal wolf. He did know that the sound did not come from the animal that was coming towards them. He felt Sam tense beside him and knew that his grip would be tightening on his gun.

"Easy," Dean barely whispered as he breathed out hoping it would calm his brother slightly.

Dean could hear dry leaves and branches crunch under the animal's feet and knew that it was close. He slowly rose up to get another glance into the forest ahead of them and saw a brown bear. Letting out the breath he didn't know he was holding he let himself slide back down beside his brother. He shook his head to let Sam know that it wasn't the prey they were looking for.

The crunching noises stopped and Dean knew the animal had paused probably stopping to eat something or look around. The small hairs on the back of his neck seemed to rise slightly. It may not be the prey they were hunting, but it was a bear and bears were not to be fooled with.

A grunt was heard from just the other side of the rock as was some scratching noises against tree bark. All Dean wanted was for this bear to pass so they could continue on the hunt. He hated waiting, it required patience and he would rather be kicking some supernatural butt than sitting here behind this stupid rock.

He sighed heavily and Sam shifted nervously beside him.

The bear roared and Sam nearly dropped his gun as he let out a squeak of fear. Dean looked over at his brother somewhat concerned. He knew his little brother wasn't ready for this and now he would have to find the way to get them both out of this alive.

Dean put a hand on his shoulder and gave a quick squeeze. Sam gave him a weak smile.

The bear roared again making Dean wonder if he had been correct earlier and this was a berserker or if it was just an ordinary bear. He felt Sam tense under his hand and he gave him another quick squeeze. They were going to have a long talk after this night was over. Even after the easy jobs they'd taken Sam on they were nothing like this one and his brother still had some innocence in him. That would change and after tonight Sam would no longer be a child.

Dean could hear the bear begin to move again. Not being able to stay still any longer, he slowly rose up from his kneeling position to try and get a better look to see where the animal was. Dean's heart almost stopped in his chest before it began to race. As he came to his full height, he saw big brown paws resting on the top of the rock. Dean looked up and came face to face with the animal. It's almost human eyes were looking down as if it were watching them.

Dean swallowed as he breathed in the rancid breath from the animal and slid back down reaching for his brother's jacket as he stared at the large animal hovering above them. His hand felt material and grabbed onto his brother's jacket. Dean yanked Sam to his feet and started to pull him away from the rock.

The bear roared a third time as it swiped a paw at him and he felt Sam fall away from his grasp. Dean pulled up his gun taking aim at the animal.

"Dean! Sammy! Get away from that bear," John shouted as he fired a shot into the air to distract the animal.

The bear gave a low grunt and turned at the sound.

'Right,' Dean thought wryly. 'Cause we were thinking of sitting here and having a beer with him.'

"Sammy stay down," he yelled and pulled the trigger. The bear was moving and Dean only nicked one of it's front legs. "Damnit!"

"Dean quit playing around with that bear and get yourselves up here," John demanded

Dean reached down and helped Sam up to his feet. "Gotta go now Sam," he said as he shoved Sam in front of him.

"But Dean," Sam said.

"Shut up and run," Dean yelled back at him.

0000000000000

"What I didn't know is that the bear had already wounded him," Dean said quietly as Joshua continued to sew him up. "The bear had gotten a swipe at his chest when it missed me."

"It's an easy miss in the dark," Joshua said grabbing more thread.

"No it isn't. Not with Sammy," Dean said.

"Did you get away from it?" Joshua asked.

0000000000000

Dean kept shoving his brother in front of him as he pushed him to go faster. Sam stumbled over a tree root and Dean grabbed him keeping him upright.

"Damnit Sam keep on your feet! It's right behind us," Dean said to his younger brother. "Move!"

Sam kept running and made it to their father. Dean looked over his shoulder to see how close the animal was and tripped over a stick. He fell backwards onto his back smacking his head on the hard forest floor. He laid there for a moment before opening his eyes and came face to face with the animal again.

"Dean get up!" John bellowed as another shot was fired into the air to distract the animal.

He tried to get to his feet but the bear caught him with his paw. Dean felt pain flair across his chest and then he was being flung away from the animal. He landed hard on his chest and he felt fiery pain in his belly. Shaking his head he realized that he landed just in front of a tree and as he stood he felt something pull away from his stomach. He looked down and saw that he'd landed on top of a tree root. His t-shirt had rips that would match a bear's claw and further down there was a hole where the root had cut through the material. He pulled up the ruined shirt to check his chest. There was blood coming from the claw marks but just a slight cut where the root should have dug into his chest.

"Dean!" Sam shouted.

Dean lifted his head and saw that the bear was between himself and the rest of his family, but he was closer. His hand shifted to his side to grab his gun but it wasn't there. Desperately he looked at the ground around him and didn't see the weapon. He ran his hand over the ground in the darkness and couldn't feel it anywhere. Retracing his steps as quickly as he could he finally found the weapon filled with silver bullets.

A shot rang out in the dark night and Dean heard his father cry out in pain. Dean looked up to see the bear had made it to their position. He couldn't believe that his father had taken a shot and missed at that close range. Looking around he couldn't see his father anywhere and a familiar fear filled him as he realized that his father was down. But he could see Sammy and he was standing there looking like a deer caught in headlights.

Dean struggled to his feet using the tree beside him for leverage. "Sammy run!" he shouted as he ran towards him.

He knew he wouldn't be fast enough and he knew his little brother didn't have the speed required to out run the bear. Slowing his running he reached down and picked up a small rock. He threw it at the bear as hard as he could.

"Leave my brother alone!" he shouted at the animal.

The bear stopped chasing Sam and turned to see where the offensive rock had come from.

"Hey your mother's on our cabin floor!" he shouted at the bear and then shook his head. Now he was insulting the wildlife? What was he thinking?

Wanting to keep the animal's attention he picked up the rock next to his foot and threw it at the animal. The bear roared and took a step towards Dean as a shot rang out.

Dean looked over and saw his father struggling to his feet.

"Get Sammy out of here Dean! That's an order. GO!" John shouted.

Dean was torn. His father was bleeding from a wound on his head as well as some cuts on his chest. Sammy was safe for the moment having found some cover behind a fallen log. A roar helped him come to his senses. The bear had turned away from where Sam had been and was coming after him.

Dean pulled up his gun and aimed carefully at the bear. He would not miss this time.

"Dean shoot it," John yelled. "Damnit Samuel front and center!"

Not wanting to miss this time Dean set himself properly and lined up the bear in his sights. He took a steadying breath and squeezed the trigger. Nothing happened. Dean looked down at the weapon in surprise. He took pride in keeping a clean and working weapon. Now in the moment he needed it to work the most it jammed on him. A growl brought his attention back to his prey. His eyes grew as big as saucers as the bear reached him and he was thrown again by the swipe of a huge paw.

Dean found himself rolling across the forest floor. He blinked some of the dirt out of his eyes and spit dirt and blood out of his mouth. Looking up he saw the bear watching him and it sent a shiver down his spine. It let out a louder roar than it had earlier that night. Dean ducked as another swipe of the paw connected to his head and he saw stars. He lay still for a moment, opening his eyes a crack to see where the bear was and saw it turn and head for his father.

Struggling to his feet Dean was slightly relieved that he'd been able to keep hold of his weapon this time. Taking a quick moment he was able to clear his jammed weapon. Pulling himself to his feet he brought the gun up to aim at the animal only to have something red obscure his vision. Reaching up he tried to wipe away the blood that was coming down from his forehead, but it just kept coming into his eyes.

He dropped the idea of taking another shot and decided to follow his father's last order. Dean took off towards the location where he last saw his brother. Reaching the log he'd seen his brother hide behind he found the small hollow empty.

Ice cold fear threaded itself through him. "Sammy!" he shouted and listened for a response. There wasn't one. "Sam where are you?"

Dean took a quick scan of the area but didn't see his brother anywhere.

A loud scream tore through the dark night and Dean turned to where he'd last seen his father. He was down on the ground with the bear mauling him. Racing over he took aim at the animal again and shot off several rounds into the animal. He didn't care where he hit it, just as long as it got his attention away from his father.

Dean squeezed the trigger again and the animal let out a loud roar. It took another swipe at his father and turned to look at Dean.

"Get away from him you hairy freak!" Dean shouted.

The animal grunted once and turned back to John. It reared up on it's hind legs and landed hard on John's chest. Then as if satisfied that it had bested it's opponent it turned to Dean with another grunt.

"I said get away from him," Dean ground out and brought up his gun again.

"Dean?" Sam's voice called out.

He turned his attention from the animal to where he'd heard his brother's voice come from. "Sammy get out of there!"

The animal turned and saw the youngest of the Winchesters standing a few feet away. It roared and took a run at Sam.

0000000000000

Joshua put bandages over the freshly stitched skin on Dean's chest and moved onto his head wound.

Dean stopped talking and focused on the shiny St. Christopher's medallion dangling slightly from Joshua's neck. He winced a couple of times but did not call out in pain.

"Hey kid can you feel this?" Joshua asked placing a finger near the cut, but not close enough to touch the wound.

Dean swallowed. "Yes."

Joshua took a deep breath and placed a hand on his un-injured shoulder. "You don't have to be a hero kid. You've been through hell tonight. I know it hurts and you don't have to keep quiet for me. I've heard 6'5 200lb men scream out for their mamas with fewer injuries than you have."

"Sammy," Dean said quietly.

"You'd do anything for that kid brother of yours, wouldn't you?" Joshua asked as he went back to working on Dean's head wound.

"Anything," Dean said.

"Well you can relax. He can't hear you from here. In fact I'm pretty sure he's asleep by now," he said.

"No. You gave him a job to do. He'll be watching over Dad until one of us comes to get him," Dean said then shot out a hand and fisted Joshua's shirt. "You will go and get him when you're done and bring him back to me."

Joshua looked into Dean's eyes and saw the fear pooling there. "Yeah kid. As soon as I'm done I'll bring him back to you."

Dean lost the sudden energy that had been fuelled by fear and let go of Joshua's shirt closing his eyes as his head hit the pillow.

"Can you be done now?" Dean asked.

"Just about there. You need a couple of stitches up here, then I'll check your shoulder," Joshua said. "So the bear was taking off after Sam. What happened next?"

"He fell," Dean whispered.

0000000000000

"Sammy get up!" Dean yelled from several feet away feeling sick because he knew he would not make it to save him in time. He pulled up his gun and squeezed the trigger. Nothing happened.

He put the ineffective weapon back into his holster as he ran. Hoping for a glimpse of Sam running away a chill ran through him when he heard his little brother scream out in pain instead. Dean ran faster ignoring the pain in his chest.

When he was a couple of steps away from his brother who was being mauled by the bear he stopped and picked up some rocks off the forest floor. He threw them at the bear as hard as he could keeping one back. When the bear looked at him he threw the last one directly at the beast's face. The animal roared in pain and anger. It turned and focused all it's energy on Dean.

The animal was doing what he wanted it to do, but Dean hadn't thought past getting the thing off Sam. He needed a weapon and headed towards his father. Slipping down to his knees he skidded the last couple of inches coming to rest at his father's side. Grabbing his father's gun that lay on the ground next to his motionless body he turned in time to see the bear stand on it's back legs. He didn't hesitate as he raised the gun and shot the animal directly through the heart.

Shape shifters had always fascinated him by the way they morphed and he always watched them revert to their original forms if he could. They were always different than what he imagined and he was unprepared for the dead form in front of him.

Dean stared down sadly at the dead girl for a moment, before making himself look away and race over to his brother.

0000000000000

Joshua put what was left of the stitch kit onto the night table by the bed. He moved his focus onto Dean's shoulder.

"So what happened then?" he asked.

"It died and reverted into it's original human form," Dean said softly. "She couldn't have been more than sixteen years old. She could have been a girl in one of my school classes and I killed her."

"You need to remember what she was Dean. She was a creature, she wasn't human. That creature had killed many campers in that forest. She killed indiscriminately and without remorse. She killed little children without mercy. You did the right thing," Joshua said sternly hoping the words got through to him.

Dean looked away not wanting to hear the truth. All he could see was the dead naked girl spilling her cursed blood over moss and twigs on the forest floor.

"Dean your shoulder is separated. I have to put it back in and it's going to hurt," Joshua said. "Once it's set the pain will diminish a bit."

Joshua got himself into position and felt Dean's muscles go slack.

"I've had dislocations before. Just do it," Dean said softly.

Joshua wrenched the bones back into their proper position surprised that only a whimper escaped the young man's throat. He was breathing heavily and his eyes were clenched shut.

"It's in Dean. I'm going to put it into a sling and get Sammy for you, ok?" Joshua said. "I need to get a sling from the other med kit. I won't be long."

Dean nodded but didn't open his eyes. The pain was intense, too intense to try to talk. He was afraid that if he tried to talk he'd cry out or make some pitiful noises. He concentrated on breathing to push away the pain and to calm himself. Opening his eyes when he heard movement he saw Joshua sit on the bed with a white cloth in his hands.

"All right. Almost done here," he said and Dean was sure that it was the kind of tone he would of used on one of his injured animals to keep them calm.

He watched the doctor fold his arm on an angle and rest his arm in the long portion. Dean lifted himself up as much as he could so Joshua could wrap and tie the sling around his neck.

"There all done," he said. "I brought you some pain killers."

Dean shook his head. "You promised."

Joshua smiled as he put an icepack on Dean's shoulder and nodded. "Yeah I did. I'll be right back with him."

Dean watched him leave under heavy lidded eyes. He struggled to stay awake long enough for Sam to get back to him. His was proud of how his little brother had handled himself out in the field for the first time. He hadn't started out so good, but when it had really mattered the boy had come through for both him and his Dad. Dean closed his eyes trying to blank his mind a little. He didn't want to remember any more tonight, he just wanted his brother next to him so he would know he was safe. Slowly his eyes drifted closed.

A scream tore Dean from his semi conscious state and jolted him to full alertness.

"Sam!" he yelled as he pulled of the sheets and swung his legs around. Setting his feet on the cold wooden floor he tried to get out of bed. But he was weak from the blood loss and went down to his knees. "Sam!"

Something crashed in the hallway.

"Damnit kid!" Joshua yelled angrily. "Get back here."

"Dean!" Sam shouted. "Don't let him get me!"

"Sam!" Dean yelled as he crawled to the door.

"Samuel stop," Joshua yelled again.

"Sam stop!" Dean yelled as he saw his little brother about to run into a wall.

Sam skidded to a stop with his hands out in front of him. "Dean where are you?" Sam yelled.

"Turn to your right until I say stop," he said slowly and saw Joshua coming up behind him. "Don't you touch him. I don't know what you did to him but don't you touch him again."

Joshua stopped and raised an eyebrow at the dark tone in the older child's voice.

"Stop Sam. Now slowly walk forward," Dean instructed.

Sam sniffled and carefully started to walk forward.

"Dean I haven't done anything but help you two tonight," Joshua said.

"Go help our Dad. I got Sam," Dean said. "Stop Sam."

"Look kid," Joshua started.

"I am not a kid! I haven't been a kid for years! I know how to look after my brother! Please just go take care of our Dad. Please Joshua," Dean pleaded.

"I can't do that Dean," Joshua said softly. "Not yet."

"Sam turn right a little more," Dean said manoeuvring him around a small table in the hallway. "Stop. Now walk."

Joshua took a few steps forward keeping a fair distance between himself and Sam.

"Dean?" Sam said shakily.

"You're heading straight for me. Just a little further buddy," Dean said as calmly as he could. He could almost see the fear radiating off his little brother's body. "Just a couple more steps."

Joshua stepped closer to the two boys and Sam stopped his chest heaving.

"Dean!" he yelled. "Don't let it get me!"

"No one here is going to hurt you. Just two more steps Sam. Follow my voice and step forward. That's all you have to do," Dean said wishing he had just enough energy to go and collect him from the hallway.

Sam whimpered and took a step forward.

"Dean be careful with him, he's concussed," Joshua said.

Dean glared at the man. Of course his little brother was concussed. He'd been beaten up by a bear because Dean didn't protect him.

"One more step Sam and you're with me. Come on buddy, just one more step," Dean prompted.

Dean could see Sam's entire body shaking almost violently and he got down on his hands and inched himself closer. "Come on Sam. One more step, I promise."

Sam took one small tentative step forward as Dean propped himself up against the wall. He reached out and grabbed Sam then pulled him against him. A sob tore out of his little brother's chest as his small arms went around his older brother. He ducked his head into Dean's shoulder and sobbed.

"It's ok Sammy. I've got you. You're safe," Dean said softly to him as one hand rubbed his back and the other cradled the back of his head. He heard Joshua sigh heavily and walk away towards their father's room. Dean didn't care anymore he had his Sammy and he would be safe with him.

He didn't know how long his brother cried for but he knew it was a symptom of the concussion. At some point he had shifted position from kneeling next to the wall to leaning against it with his legs stretched out in front of him. Sam had crawled into his lap as if he were five years old and had fallen asleep while Dean had read him a story. Sam's breath hitched painfully in his chest and Dean knew he was still awake because he was still sniffling.

"I'm sorry," Sam whispered into Dean's chest.

"For what?" Dean asked.

Sam was quiet for a moment. "I touched Dad."

Dean shook his head slightly. "On his bandages?"

"No. I heard him moving his hand around and it didn't sound covered so I reached out to where the sound was and held his hand," Sam said quietly around the hitches in his breathing.

Dean's brow furrowed. "Sam how does a hand not sound covered?"

"I didn't hear the gauze rub against the sheet. I wasn't sure so I reached out carefully," Sam said.

"Oh," Dean said and it kinda made sense. "So why is that a problem?"

Sam shivered slightly. "After I did that he started moaning and talking in his sleep."

Dean nodded. His Dad usually did that when he was injured and his temperature went up. "Yeah he does that Sam."

"Does he move around a lot too?" Sam asked.

"Sometimes. Why?" Dean asked.

"I think he thought we were still fighting the bears. So I tried to talk to him. I told him we were safe at Joshua's and that he was looking after us. And that we were going to be ok," Sam said and tightened his grip slightly on his brother.

"That was good of you Sam. If he could hear you then he wouldn't worry so much or be scared. That was a good thing to do. Why do you think you have to apologize for that?" Dean asked.

"It made Joshua mad," Sam whispered. "Dean we could look after him. We could. Then we could go home."

"Sammy Joshua sounded mad because he was concerned about Dad getting an infection, that's all. He's not really mad at you," Dean soothed.

"Are you mad?" Sam asked.

Dean frowned at the slight fear in his brothers tone. "Do I sound mad Sam?"

"No, but Dad almost whispers when he's real mad," Sam said and yawned.

"No Sammy I'm not mad at you or anyone except for those bitch bears," he said.

Sam giggled a little. "You're not suppose to use that word."

Dean smiled, that response was what he was looking for. "Nope I'm not, but I do lots of stuff I'm not supposed to do, don't I."

Sam nodded against his chest.

"Sammy my butt's gone numb. Can we get up now?" Dean asked.

Sam tensed in his arms. "Where are we going?"

"Well I'd rather be in that comfortable bed in the other room with the warm comforter. What'd ya say?" Dean said.

"Ok," Sam said and slowly got off his brother.

"Can you help me Sam?" Dean asked.

Sam reached down with his hand and Dean caught his hand in his. He swallowed back a groan from the pain in his shoulder. Reaching out he pushed off the wall and got to his feet balanced by his brother. Leaning on each other they slowly made their way back to bed eventually falling asleep.

Dean roused slightly when he heard Joshua come into the room.

"How are you?" Joshua whispered. "Are you in pain?"

"I'm fine," Dean whispered back. "Joshua about earlier."

"Don't worry about it. I shouldn't have yelled at him," he said looking slightly ashamed.

"Sammy's real sensitive sometimes. Add that to the concussion and not being able to see, well," Dean paused looking for the proper words.

"I understand Dean," Joshua said.

"How's Dad?" Dean asked as Joshua eased himself onto a chair that had appeared next to the bed sometime while Dean was sleeping.

"He's improved slightly, but that's not saying much. There's a lot of damage," he said quietly not sure how to soften the next words. "Dean I'm not sure he's going to wake up."

Dean tensed slightly and his arms tightened around his brother protectively. "No. He has to wake up. Dad's all we have," Dean said softly.

"Dean I need to take him to the hospital. He needs more care than I can possibly provide him. I'm afraid that if I don't take him to get help he won't survive," Joshua said.

"What about us?" Dean said as he looked away from the man sitting next to him.

"You can't come with me. I don't know how I would explain your injuries to the medical authority. Plus I can't guarantee that you and Sammy wouldn't be taken into protective custody. I would like you to stay here, if you're willing," he offered.

Dean nodded. "Our things at the motel," he said his voice cracking softly.

"I have the room key from your father's jacket. I can swing by and check you out. I will bring everything back that's in that room," he said softly. "It's not much Dean, but it's all I can offer you right now."

"It's fine," Dean whispered then looked up at the ex-marine. "Thank-you."

"There's something else. I've been talking to Father Jim. He doesn't like the idea of leaving you two boys alone even though you can look after yourself," Joshua said.

"He's sending Caleb?" Dean asked.

Joshua shook his head. "Nope he's sending himself."

Dean looked pleasantly surprised. "Really?"

Joshua shook his head slightly at the teen's response. "Yeah I suggested Caleb, but he insisted. Said he was overdue for a visit with the Winchester family."

A banging sound brought Joshua to his feet. "Dean pay attention because this is imperative. You and Sammy cannot make any noise what so ever. I called a neighbour to help me with your father and I don't want anyone to know you're here. Can you do that?"

Dean nodded as Sam shifted against his chest.

"I'll send word as soon as I have it. I'm sorry I couldn't do more for him," he said and then he was out of the room closing the door behind him.

Dean lay there in the blackness of the room hearing voices in the hallway. He couldn't make out what was said but soon he heard the front door slam shut and he knew he was alone with his brother.

Sam shifted against him in his sleep and Dean swallowed back a groan from the fresh pain in his chest. He didn't move his brother away though, fear coursed through him at the thought of losing his father. Wasn't losing their mother enough?

Dean rested his chin on his brother's head. What would he do without his Dad? Where would they go? There was no way he'd let them take away his little brother from him. He'd find a way to keep them together because anything else was unacceptable. Even when Sam was a pain in the ass he wouldn't give him up for the world. He shuddered slightly at the thought of losing them both.

Sam whimpered in his sleep and Dean slowly ran his hand up and down his brother's back in a soothing fashion hoping to chase away whatever was scaring him in his dreams.

"It's ok Sammy. Everything's going to be ok," he whispered in the darkness.

His brother seemed to settle and Dean let himself sleep.

0000000000000

Light was peeking through the windows when Dean woke again and he was alone.

"Sam?" he yelled out.

He got no response and he slowly sat up in the bed. As he waited for the pain in his chest to subside he catalogued the various pains vying for his attention. There was a cloth hanging from around his neck and he slowly put his arm into the sling. His chest was a vast array of different levels of pain and he vaguely remembered Joshua sewing him up. There were various aches and pains that he normally had after a night of hunting, but these were worse compounded by the emotional wounds suffered last night.

Slowly he swung his legs around and he stood up as quickly as the pain in his chest would allow. He half walked half stumbled to the wall and he leaned on it for support.

"I wonder if Joshua has any coffee around here," he muttered as he walked through the open door out into the hallway.

He heard movement coming from the room their Dad had been treated in and he slowly made his way down the hallway.

"Sammy?" he said softly looking around the room. His gaze found his little brother sitting in the corner. Slowly he made his way over to him.

"He's gone," Sam said quietly and sniffed.

"Yeah. Joshua took him to the hospital," Dean said.

Sam shook his head and brought his knees up wrapping his arms around them. "He's dead. The bear got him," Sam whispered.

"No Sam. Dad survived. You were here with him for a while last night while Joshua stitched me up," Dean said.

Sam leaned his head back against the wall and Dean almost gasped at the damage on his little brother's face. His eyes were completely swollen shut, there were small cuts all around his face and two gashes near his eyes. But the eyes themselves wouldn't be opening for a day or two. The bruising around them was black and purple with a bit of yellow around the edges.

Dean looked around them. The floor was littered with bloody gauze, bandages and towels.

"Sam we can't stay in here. It's not clean," Dean said softly.

"Where are we going to go?" Sam asked.

"Well I was thinking coffee for me, a little juice for you and then we'd see what kinda food Joshua keeps around here. Hopefully he has some cereal you can munch on. What do you say?" Dean asked.

"I'm not really hungry but I'll come with you," Sam said.

"Good. Do you need help up?" Dean asked.

"No," Sam said as he tried to get up then froze one arm quickly going around his chest. "Maybe a little."

Dean grimaced feeling his little brother's pain. Chest wounds were a bitch.

A few hours later the brother's were sitting on the couch watching one of their favourite movies on TV. Dean had been careful to leave the drapes closed so if someone came onto the property they wouldn't be seen.

Sam was happily munching on some food that he'd finally been able to convince his little brother to eat. Dean grimaced at the combination, a cheese and pickle sandwich with chocolate milk, and took a sip of coffee.

Quickly he put the mug of hot liquid down when noises came from the front door.

"Dean?" Sam whispered.

"Shhh," Dean shushed as he turned off the TV. He stood up and parted the drapes carefully. All he could see was he Impala parked outside.

"Dean? Is Joshua back?" Sam asked.

Dean frowned as he moved back to his brother. He took the plate out of his hands and put it on a side table. Slowly he helped Sam up and got him to hide on the other side of the couch. If someone looked into the room they wouldn't see him, if they walked into the room Dean would deal with them.

"Stay put and no matter what happens don't say anything. Got it?" Dean whispered.

Sam nodded.

Dean moved a newspaper that was sitting on the coffee table over Sam's breakfast to hide it. Picking up the large sharp kitchen knife he'd brought into the living room with them Dean backed into a different corner where the person coming into the room wouldn't see him.

The door slowly creaked open and a shadowy figure stepped inside. The door closed and a small bag dropped to the floor. The man removed his shoes and quietly walked into the room.

"Dean? Sammy? Where are you two?" A familiar voice called out. "I'll bet you still make the best coffee Dean. How about pouring this old preacher a cup?"

"Pastor Jim?" Sam said as he shakily got to his feet.

"Sammy?" Jim said as he took a couple of steps into the room. "Good Lord son. You must have put up one heck of a fight."

"Yes sir," Sam said.

"Where's that sly brother of yours?" Jim asked.

"Behind you," Sam said with a smile.

It was an old game, played out for many years, but only between the three of them. Never when their Dad was around. It had taken years for Dean to figure out how to surprise the man who had trained their father in the art of hunting. Dean took satisfaction and pride knowing he could sneak up on the man.

Today though he knew Pastor Jim had let him win. "He knew I was here Sammy. He's just being nice."

Jim turned at the voice smiling, but as he saw the pale and drawn face of the oldest Winchester boy the smile faded. "So a berserker, huh?" was all he could think to ask.

"Dean?" Sam said.

"Yeah Sammy?" Dean said moving over to his kid brother.

"Can I finish my breakfast now?" Sam asked.

"Sure. You want the movie back on?" Dean asked.

Sam nodded.

Dean helped his little brother back up onto the couch and handed him his sandwich. Then he put the milk on the side table within reach and put the TV back on.

"I'm going to go talk to pastor Jim in the kitchen Sam. If you need anything just call me, ok?" Dean asked.

Sam had his head tilted in the direction of Dean's voice. "How many steps?"

Dean smiled. "Well probably about ten. I won't be far Sam."

"Ok," Sam said then turned his head in the direction of the TV.

Dean and Pastor Jim moved into the kitchen where Dean poured the older man a cup of coffee.

"Rough night?" Jim opened.

Dean nodded as he stirred in some sugar. "You could say that. Just another fun adventure in Winchesterland."

Dean had been going for light but Jim didn't laugh.

"It was rough," Dean said giving in quickly as he handed Jim the mug of coffee then fixed a fresh one for himself ignoring the disapproving look Jim gave him. "Joshua doesn't know if Dad will wake up."

"Want to talk about it?" Jim asked.

"You really want to know?" Dean asked already knowing the answer.

"Only if you're ready to talk about it," Jim said.

Dean sighed heavily then took a sip of his coffee. He had just finished telling the pastor everything he told Joshua the night before when his brother's voice called out.

"Dean!" Sammy shouted.

Dean stood up quickly, hissing at the pain in his chest and hurried out to the living room. "What is it Sam?"

His brother was breathing heavily and shaking. "I-I don't want to watch this anymore."

Dean looked over at the TV somewhat surprised. Star Wars was one of Sam's favourite movies. He loved pretending that he was Luke Skywalker and made Dean pretend he was Han Solo.

"OK Sam you don't have to watch it," Dean said grabbing the remote and shutting off the TV.

Sam pushed himself off the couch. "Can I sit with you and pastor Jim?"

Dean was just about to agree when he heard the clergy man behind him.

"Why don't we join you Sam? The seats are far more comfortable out here," Jim said sitting down in a recliner.

Dean looked down as Sam grabbed onto his arm. "Need help back onto the couch Sam?" he asked.

Sam nodded.

Dean helped him up onto the couch ignoring the grumbling his chest gave him as the movement pulled on his stitches. For a split second he thought he felt something give, but then the pain settled down to a level he could handle and he forgot about it. He sat on the couch beside his brother and put an arm around his shoulder. Sam moved closer and rested his head against Dean's chest.

"Ok Sam?" Dean asked concerned at the slight tremor running through his brother's small body.

"Yeah," Sam said softly.

"Finally get bored of that movie Sam?" Jim asked. If pastor Jim noticed Sam's clinginess to his older brother, or Dean's hovering over Sam he didn't comment.

"Yeah," Sam said and shivered.

Dean tightened his arm around his brother. "Did you have a good trip here?" Dean asked not wanting to bring up last night's hunt with Sam around.

"Yes. I had dry roads and considerate drivers all the way up," Jim said. "In fact I got to rent this nice mustang with a lot of power."

Dean smiled slightly. Cars he could talk about.

"What colour?" Sam asked.

Dean's smile broadened. So could his brother. Eventually they exhausted the topic of cars and Sam shifted slightly against his brother.

"Is he asleep?" Jim asked.

"Yeah I think so," Dean said.

Jim got up and left the room for a moment. He returned a moment later with a blanket off one of the beds. Without saying anything he put it over the two boys.

"I don't suppose you know which hospital Joshua took Dad to?" Dean asked softly.

"No he didn't mention it," Jim said and looked at Dean for a moment as if sizing him up. "In a lot of pain?"

Dean made himself sit up straighter. "It's nothing I can't handle."

Jim smiled. "I'm not your father so toss the tough crap mister. You've been getting paler and paler since you sat out here. Now be honest. Are you in pain?"

"A little," Dean said.

"That's better," Jim said and left the room again. He returned with a couple of white pills and water. "Here take these, it'll help."

"What is it?" Dean asked.

"Tylenol. Extra strength. It won't put you to sleep but it should cut through some of the pain," Jim said.

Dean stared at the white pills for a moment unsure. But he knew Pastor Jim wouldn't do anything to harm him or Sam. He shrugged and took the meds.

"Now," Jim said as he sat back in the recliner. "What didn't you tell me about last night? After you killed the berserker."

Dean looked surprised at the words, then shook his head. He never could keep anything from this man. Sighing he gently moved his hand through Sam's hair. "I ran to check on Sam."

Part 2 coming right up.