Warning: strong language and angst. This story contains character death and discussion of injury, hence the rating it has been given. There are, however, no spoilers for season 1 or 2 at all :)
Rating: probably PG-13
Sam's fingers are becoming an extension of Dean's own body. He swears that he can feel their skin melding together, new cells growing and threading their fingers to each other.
They don't understand, none of them do. They wouldn't be able to get Dean to let go of Sam even if he wanted to.
It isn't raining, and the day is warm and pleasant. It seems that this is all so unexpected, everything that has happened today, that the cliché rain hasn't even had time to prepare itself for an appropriate downpour.
Before all this had happened, Dean had heard children from the park nearby laughing as they played their games. Now those same kids are being steered away from the horrifying scene before them, their parents throwing pitying glances in Dean's direction.
Dean doesn't want their pity. He doesn't need it, because everything is going to be fine. He just has to keep holding onto Sam's hand as if both their lives depend on it.
A bitter laugh escapes him, the sound harsh and dry. He shakes his head and studies the creasing on Sam's knuckles. How very fucking ironic, his mind says wryly.
There's noise around him now. Sirens, doors being opened and closed, voices telling people to stay back.
Damn right, Dean thinks. Get the fuck away from my brother, assholes. He doesn't lift his head but he can just imagine all the people with their goddamn stupid, staring faces.
He jumps when someone puts hands on his shoulders. They're rubbing what he supposes are meant to be reassuring circles into his back but all he wants to do is shrug them off and tell them to go away and leave him and Sammy alone.
When he sees hands reach out to his brother, holding fingers against Sam's blood-coated throat, a switch inside Dean's brain is violently flicked on.
He pulls the gun out from the waistband of his pants and points it at the bastard trying to take Sammy away from him before he can even consider the consequences.
Dean smiles slightly with satisfaction at the screams he hears coming from the nearby, ever growing, crowd.
"Get away!" Dean shouts. "Get away from me and my brother!" The paramedic in front of him looks terrified, the young man's eyes wide with please and don't.
Dean's own eyes narrow. "Get away," he warns again, cocking the gun. The click resonates around the street and settles Dean's nerves.
This he can handle. This he is used to. Using a gun - holding it up and being prepared to pull the trigger - he can cope with that because he's so damn used to doing it.
The area around him has been cleared now, an almost perfect circle in the centre of the road, and Dean really thinks that rain should be here by now. It'd complete the scene, make it more movie-like, less gut-wrenchingly real.
It's when someone distantly asks him to put down the weapon that he realises that both his hands are wrapped firmly round the handle of his gun.
Which means that he is no longer holding onto Sam.
He drops the gun like it's burnt him and frantically grabs for his brother. He chokes on a cry when the gun falls with a hollow thud onto Sam's still chest.
"Sorry, Sammy," Dean says, swatting the gun away until it is just out of arm's reach. His voice strains with panic. "I'm sorry…I didn't mean to."
Dean is very aware of just how insane he must look right about now but he doesn't really care. He knows that he isn't crazy, and a crazy person wouldn't be able to say that about themselves.
No, Dean hasn't lost it, not yet anyway. He tells himself that he's just having a little trouble adjusting. Some difficulty accepting that he's going to have to move on.
He's not crazy. He's just having his emotional immunity tested in the cruellest and hardest way possible.
Sam still feels warm, the skin on the fingers calloused and slightly dry, and it's been so long, too long, since Dean actually felt the contours of Sam's hands.
The last time he held Sam's hand like this was when Sam had broken down in front of Jessica's grave. The younger man had fallen heavily to his knees and sobbed his heart out, the mud on his trousers soaking through to bare skin.
Dean had held Sam's hand when they had walked back to the car and neither said anything about that day ever again. Dean had been fine with that, he'd always liked to forget that such moments ever existed, and he'd just assumed that Sam had been too.
Now Dean wishes that he'd touched Sam a lot more often. A few more pats on the back to let Sam know that he was proud wouldn't have hurt. A hug once in a while really should have been shared.
Maybe even just sitting that little bit too close, shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip. Surely that would have been ok for two brothers who had nothing but each other left.
Dean hates himself, utterly and completely, because he knows that he is the reason that none of this ever happened.
So he's trying desperately to make up for it now. This is why he's holding on.
Sam's hands are starting to feel cold when the cops arrive. There are four patrol cars and over a dozen officers with guns, and Dean thinks that this is more than a little over the top.
It's more than a little late too.
"Where the hell were you an hour ago?" he wants to yell at them. "Where were you when that bastard ran my brother over?"
But he doesn't, of course he doesn't, because he's got more important things to do. Things like brushing the hair out of Sam's vacant eyes, or memorising all the little features, like that mole under his left eye that Sam was always so damn conscious of.
And it is also taking a lot of his strength and willpower to not look at the blood under Sam's head or the terrible angle that his right arm is at. Dean has to remind himself to not stare at the broken leg or the speckles of blood on Sam's lips.
Well there you go, little brother. He sighs heavily. You wanted normal. Can't get more fucking normal than being hit by a car when crossing the street, can you?
"Stand slowly with your hands on your head," a man several feet away suddenly barks.
Dean holds his breath and stares at the rip in Sam's jeans.
"Stand slowly and step away. You are a threat to the public and unless you follow our orders we will be inclined to shoot."
Not enough time. Not enough time left at all. Dean's eyes roam over Sam, taking in as much as possible before Sam will be inevitably taken away from him.
Out of the corner of his eye Dean catches the glint of his gun lying a little distance away.
"This is your final warning. If you do not obey our orders within the next thirty seconds we will open fire."
Oh God, what would Dad think of him now? What a complete mess. Letting his guard down in public, no longer keeping his emotions at bay. And discarding his weapon without a second thought! Dean feels empty when he imagines just how disappointed his father is going to be when he finds out what has happened.
But he can change that. He can make Dad pleased with him once more. He can even make Sammy proud of him. If he just hides the gun, shows that he doesn't intend to ever threaten, let alone hurt, another person…
He leans forward, reaching out with the hand that is not in Sam's, and his fingers brush against the barrel of his gun.
"Stop!" comes an order. "Do not attempt to retrieve your weapon!"
But he ignores the officer, he has to. He only ever takes orders from one man anyway and he's not here.
He's got the gun in his hand, and is sat back down on his knees, when he feels the bullets make impact.
Four of them. Each time he is hit a newfound level of pain stabs him. He falls forward, slumping over Sam's body.
His face is near Sam's now; he can see himself in Sam's eyes. "See?" Dean says weakly, patting Sam's cheek. His breathing has turned harsh, only a few gasps left in him. His chest is searing from the wounds and his vision is starting to narrow. But it doesn't matter, because he's got Sammy's back. "I wasn't lying. I said I'd always protect you, didn't I?"
He's bleeding on Sam's shirt and it makes him want to cry. The shirt is Sam's favourite. It's Dean's favourite too.
He turns his head and rests it upon Sam's chest. "Right until the end," he promises.
And as the officers edge forward, and the gun is ripped from his grasp, Dean reassures himself with the feeling of his fingers interlaced with his brother's. He cannot see anything now but he can sense the moment the sun goes in behind thick clouds.
Dean closes his eyes. And it pours.
Author's note: Thanks ever so much for reading! And once again, thank you to all the very kind reviews left on my others stories as well. At some point I will reply to them all individually, I promise! I hope that this story was to your liking – please leave a review because I'd love to hear what you think about it:-)
Note about Under Ice sequel: a sequel to Under Ice IS currently being written, I promise. I now have the plot planned out and parts written, and as several people were wondering….yes, you are definitely going to find out more about the creature that took Sam in Under Ice, along with more information concerning Sam's blindness. However, as you can probably tell, plot bunnies keep distracting me and so I keep writing other fics instead :P