Again, thank you Faye for beta'ing this story for me. This chapter is a shadow of its former self – in a very good way. Well in my opinion only. Please let me know what you think. NOT WINCEST.

Oh and someone asked, what SFTCOL(AR)S – it is the Society for the continuation of limp (and redeemed) Sam.

In the Twilight

Part Three

"What difference does one more night make?" Dean argued with his doctor. He had tried to sleep after his brother left, but a horrible sense of foreboding, punctuated when Sam didn't call, had him pounding on his call button and demanding an escape. "I'll be just as fine in the morning as I am now!"

"Mr. Presley," the doctor sounded tired but Dean didn't care.

"You know what," he stated cutting the man off, "Just give me a damn AMA form to sign because I am leaving!"

The doctor watched as the determined young man floundered in the bed, hissing in pain as he tried to get up. Rolling his eyes, the physician moved to assist his difficult patient. "Fine," he said in resignation. "But if you don't take it easy and take care of yourself, you'll end up right back in here."

"Yeah, yeah. Fine. I got it," Dean dismissed his concerns, his anxiousness to see his brother palpable. "Just get me my walking papers!"

Hurry… hurry… his every big brother instinct was screaming.

"More like hobbling papers," the doctor grumbled under his breath as he left to get the papers in order. His brother was much more pleasant to deal with, he thought as he left the room.

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Dean was out of breath and already hurting by the time he got dressed, resorting to having to ask a sympathetic nurse to help with his shoes before grabbing his jacket and stiffly walking out of the room. His chest tightened with emotion as he carried the jacket – Sam had taken it to a dry cleaner for him…

"I'm on my way, little brother," he whispered. "Just hang on."

Moving gingerly, Dean left the hospital and caught a cab. As he settled into the back seat, hissing when the seatbelt constricted against his chest, he wished Bobby lived closer so he could have given the young hunter a ride.

He knew his father's friend would have come if he had called but a pressing urgency screamed at Dean that time was something he couldn't spare.

So he used his last twenty dollar bill instead.

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Pulling up outside the small motel that he knew Sam was staying in, Dean paid the driver and hurriedly got out, groaning as he moved too quickly and pain flared through his chest. After he made sure Sam was okay, and then chewed him out for making him worry, Dean was going to drug himself silly with painkillers and go to bed. Sammy could play nurse for a while.

Dean took small comfort in seeing the light on his brother's room.

"Okay, kiddo," he whispered as he raised his hand to knock. "You got home."

He knocked and waited.

No answer.

The hunter frowned. Maybe Sam was in the bathroom…

He knocked again. This time more loudly.

Still no answer.

"Damnit, Sammy," his worry increased. He waited a heartbeat then pounded on the door.

"SAM!"

But his brother still did not answer. It was quiet. Too quiet. Something was wrong.

Get in… get in… his instincts screamed.

Wasting no more time, Dean grabbed a credit card from his wallet. He jimmied the door and pushed it open.

"Sammy?" he called out tentatively, "Yo bro, you decent?"

Still no sound.

His heart pounded into the back of his throat as he stepped inside and then stopped.

There.

Lying on the floor – not moving – too still – was Sam.

Dean felt all the blood drain from his face as for one moment he was completely frozen, all feeling gone from his body as his mind refused to believe what his eyes was seeing. "

No," he whispered shaking his head. "No…"

Yes.

And then he was moving.

"Sammy!" Dean gasped, ignoring his own pain as he dropped heavily to his knees next to the still figure. Oh God no… Oh God no! Desperately he pressed his shaking fingers against his brother's throat. He was too cold. Sam was too cold

Oh thank you God!

There was a pulse but it was slow and lethargic, mocking more than living.

Dean didn't have time. Sam didn't have time.

As he pushed himself back to his feet, the older hunter scanned the room, quickly taking in the empty pill bottle and the miniature. It didn't take much to put together what had happened.

"God dammnit, Sammy," Dean hissed as he grabbed the phone and dialed 911, all the while keeping a sharp eye on his brother, praying for some sort of movement from him and cursing the last two red lights the cab had stopped for.

As the operator finally came on line, Dean quickly told her where he was and about the overdose, hanging up as soon as she told him an ambulance had been dispatched.

Moving back to Sam, Dean gently brushed his hand through his brother's dark, silky hair. "Come on, kiddo," he said, his voice breaking, "don't you dare do this to me. You asshole! Don't you dare leave me! Do you hear me Sammy? Don't you dare! " Dean brushed roughly at his wet cheeks. "You stupid bastard!" He lowered his voice; his words trembled past his lips. "Please, little brother. I need you…"

Beneath his gentle touch, Sam slipped further away

Part Four

Four hours later, Dean was still sitting by himself in the waiting room. The irony was not lost on him that mere hours ago he had fled this very place. And now he was back, but this time because of Sammy.

"What the hell was going through your freaky little head," he asked as he sat alone waiting to hear some news. He knew Sam was alive but so far he hadn't been able to see him.

It had been close that was all he knew. He had almost lost his brother and if he hadn't signed himself out and gone back to the motel when he did, Sam would have died.

Shaken at the thought, Dean leaned back in the seat and closed his eyes, willing his weary body to relax. He'd do Sam no good if he got himself re-admitted as well.

Everything was so badly messed up… even his car. He couldn't help but snort about that. Bobby said the Impala could be fixed but until he saw his beloved baby himself…

Dean opened his eyes and blinked hard, trying to focus on the clock hung high on the wall. The car could be fixed; he only hoped his brother could be fixed as well.

He had a pretty good idea what might have drove Sam to this stupidness, and it was the very reason he had been so afraid for his brother each night. In hindsight, Dean now wished he had made Sam stay with Bobby until he got released. But he hadn't.

In truth, while Dean was worried about Sam being alone, he wanted his brother to be with him even more. And if Sam had been staying with Bobby, it would have seriously cut down on how much time he could have stayed with Dean as the older man lived a healthy distance from the hospital.

So Dean hadn't pressed the issue at all, only too relieved when Sam said he'd be okay staying in the motel room by himself – after all it was only for a few hours each night.

Oh yeah, the hunter thought bitterly, only a few hours each night for the demon to torture Sam; time for the nightmares to drive the self-damning stick of guilt straight through his brother's soul. And Dean could have stopped it.

He should have stopped it. He should have insisted Sam stay with Bobby…

Bobby would have been there to help keep the darkness away. He would protect Sam with the truth; reminding the anguishing hunter that it was not his fault and that he did not do this to his family.

But no. Dean wanted Sam close by. So he said nothing and left his brother alone in the dark instead.

Glancing back up at the time again, he snorted in disgust. And I call Sam, selfish?

An hour later, a round faced nurse told him he could see his brother.

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Sam didn't hear Dean come into the room. He had his eyes closed and jumped when he felt someone's hand on his forehead.

Opening his eyes, he gave a wan smile when he saw Dean standing over him. The older man withdrew his hand and shook his head.

"You were fine, huh?" Dean said dryly as he sat down carefully in the visitor's chair.

"Sorry," Sam mumbled as he looked down at his hands.

"Sorry?" Dean leaned back in the chair and his eyes narrowed. "That the best you can do?"

His younger brother shrugged. He didn't know what Dean wanted him to say; definitely not the truth. Dean never wanted the truth.

For a few long minutes neither spoke. Sam fidgeted under the intensity of his brother's gaze. His own mind was still sluggish from the overdose and he really just wanted to sleep. He blinked and sighed. It wasn't supposed to be like this. He wasn't ever supposed to wake up…

His heart was heavy and his soul weary. "I just want to sleep," he said, his words mostly a whisper and dragging from the weight of the responsibility that had been placed on his young shoulders. He had tried to fix things…

Some prize he was.

"Sam," Dean wasn't letting this go and inwardly Sam deflated. He didn't want to do this. "What the hell were you thinking?"

"I was going to leave a note," he offered, his befuddled mind hoping that would somehow stay the questions but he was wrong.

"A note?" Dean sounded incredulous. "A freaking note? That's supposed to make this all better?'

The younger man just shrugged his shoulders. He wasn't sure about anything anymore.

"Oh wonderful. A note," now the older man was being sarcastic. "And just exactly were you planning on saying in this note?"

Sam risked a glance at Dean. I love you. I am doing this to protect you. Please don't hate me. Sam. "I don't know," his words were soft.

Dean let out a frustrated snort. "Cut the crap Sam and talk to me. What the hell is this all about?"

"Why now?" Sam snapped, his temper rising that his brother – the king of 'no chic flics' – was now demanding that Sam talk to him. "You never want to talk about anything. Suck it up and move on. Ain't that the Winchester way?"

"Whatever." Dean huffed angrily, and then leaned in over the bedrail towards Sam. "Why now? I'll tell you why, because you tried to kill yourself, that's why. You go and pull that kind of crap and yeah, guess what, I'm going to want to talk about it."

Sam was taken aback by his brother's vehemence. This was a side of Dean he had never seen before. But than again, he had never tried to kill himself before, either. "I said I was sorry," he couldn't keep the sulkiness out of his tone and then jumped when Dean slammed his hand against the bed railing.

"Screw you!"

Furious, the older man got up and stalked around the room. Sam knew he was trying to calm down.

Squeezing his cold hands together, he tried to keep them from shaking as he watched his brother pace, and then when he saw Dean stop with his face twisted in a grimace, the younger man remembered that Dean was supposed to still be in the hospital himself. How the hell did he manage to forget that? Oh yeah, he had tried to overdose himself.

"Dean," Sam's voice was tired but concerned. "Please sit down. You're going to hurt yourself."

Dean whirled on his feet, his eyes wide with disbelief. "Oh, so now you care about me."

"That's not fair," Sam said quietly, feeing a sharp stab of guilt at the accusation in his brother's voice. He had tried to leave Dean… again. Only this time forever.

The older man rubbed his face tiredly, sighed heavily and then gingerly sat down in the chair. "You're right it's not fair but it's true." The anguish on his face captured Sam and he was unable to look away. "Sam, please talk to me. Please tell me what's going on… Please."

Dean never begged and the plea cut Sam right to the quick. Already emotionally overloaded, he didn't have anything left to resist with. Ducking his head, he just said simply, "I just don't know what else to do."

"Do about what, Sammy?" the older man pressed gently, reaching through the railing to grasp one of Sam's shaking hands and squeezing.

Sam blinked hard. He didn't want to crumble in front of Dean. He licked his lips and tried to explain but it was so difficult. Talking was just not something they did well. "I," he took a deep breath and laid his soul bare, trusting his brother to tread lightly, no longer having the strength to hold it inside. "I don't want to lose you too. I can't, Dean – I just can't and I'm so afraid it's going to happen - " his voice shook.. oh God this was so hard.

"It's not," Dean refuted forcefully as he gripped the hand he was holding tightly. "You're not going to lose me. Ever."

"How can you say that?" Sam demanded, a note of panic tingeing his voice as his eyes searched his brother's face, desperately seeking for something concrete to grasp a hold of. "How can you be so sure? Look what happened in the cabin, Dean. It had us. It had all of us and we weren't strong enough – I wasn't strong enough – to stop it. It sliced you open without even laying a finger on you! And I couldn't stop it!"

"It isn't your job to stop it," Dean interjected but his brother just shook his head.

"Of course it is!" he argued pulling away from his brother, "You heard the demon, Dean. It has plans for me! It challenged me to stop it and I couldn't! I couldn't… I - "

"Sammy," Dean interrupted his brother's increasingly upset and self condemning tirade. "Stop. Please."

The younger man took a deep breath, blinked sharply and turned away. He was dangerously close to totally losing it.

"Sam, look at me."

Oh God. Dean wasn't going to make this any easier on him. With great reluctance, the younger man turned towards his brother again.

"This," he indicated his covered chest, "is not your fault and I won't stand for you blaming yourself over it." He sat back heavily in the chair and stared at Sam for a long time and then asked quietly. "Do you honestly think that if you had died in that crummy little motel room, you would have saved me?"

Sam swallowed hard and then slowly nodded, not trusting his voice anymore. He had and he still did.

"Oh kid," Dean exhaled heavily. He leaned forward and snorted softly. "All that would have done is insure the next time I met that sonnovabitch, I'd be alone…" Sam looked at his brother oddly – he hadn't thought about that.

Dean continued. "Do you really think I would have just given up looking for it because you had killed yourself?" He snorted softly, "I'm sorry, Sammy, but that's not how it works." He dropped his voice to a mere whisper and Sam shivered at the tone. "I would have become Dad. I would have continued to hunt, but not for Mom anymore… only for you."

"Dean," Sam felt himself slipping over his emotional edge and into the gaping void of a total breakdown; his shoulders shook and his voice trembled. "I'm sorry. I'm so… so sorry."

Wrapping his arms tightly around himself, Sam was stomach sick and terrified at what he had almost done. He hadn't even thought about how Dean would feel if Sam had died, or about the path of revenge his death would have put the older man on. Doubling over, he felt the tears burn his face but he didn't care; he just kept apologizing over and over again, his words a psychotic mantra. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry…"

And then he felt the weight shift on the bed as Dean moved, a moment before his brother's arms went around him, warm and strengthening; a protective cocoon – a hand reaching over the edge to pull him back. "It's okay, Sammy. It's okay," the older man's voice was murmuring gently in his ear and he turned towards it. "I'm here kiddo… I'm right here…"

Pressing himself against his brother's strong frame, Sam fisted his hands in Dean's shirt and held on as he let out all the pain, grief and fear he'd kept inside since the night Jessica died.

Dean seemed to understand how much Sam needed this because, instead of trying to brush him off or pull away, he just held on to his younger brother, his unwavering strength, faith and love tethering Sam as a storm of emotions broke around him. And even when an exhausted Sam finally pulled away and leaned back in the bed, Dean didn't move.

He continued to sit there, vigilant, until his brother had drifted into sleep; his own discomfort and pain pushed aside momentarily by his own need to do this. He needed to be here and do this for Sammy, as much and maybe even more than Sam needed him to.

And only when he was sure that Sam was resting comfortably, perhaps his first real sleep in weeks, did Dean move back to the chair and gingerly stretch out his cramping muscles and rub at his aching chest. He was still shaken by his brother's emotional meltdown but heartened as well…

It was like flushing an infection out of a wound; a painful, messy, but necessary procedure to facilitate healing. And Dean was sure that in the end, although his brother would always carry the scars, he would heal. In fact Dean knew he would heal because he would accept no less for his Sammy, just as his brother would accept no less for him…

"You're not going to win," the hunter whispered into the stillness. "You can't have him. I won't let you."

Dean felt the air around him prickle and even though he knew it had to have been his mind, he could have sworn he heard a hissing answer.

'We will see, hunter… we will see…'

The End