10:42 a.m.

Disclaimer: I own nothing related to the characters of Supernatural and the world they inhabit. I am only borrowing them from Kripke for the time being.

A/N: Spoilers for "In My Time of Dying." I am not even going to try to put words into John's mouth regarding what he told Dean, but this story was in my head when I woke up Friday morning and wouldn't go away until I wrote it. Hope you will forgive my non-conjecturing. Please excuse any bad grammar & spelling errors that you find, they are all mine.


Only two things were keeping Dean on his feet: the door jam and his younger brother Sam. His ears reverberated with the words, "Time of death 10:41 a.m."

The doctor looked up from John's still form to see the other two Winchester's agonized expressions. They'd been through so much in the past several days. To have just risen from what he thought was the boy's death bed only to lose his seemingly-recovering father must have been a sucker punch to the gut for Dean. The blood had drained out of Sam's face making the cuts and abrasions seem to bleed again, eyes shining with unshed tears. Time to take care of the living.

The doctor swept both away from the nightmarish scene as he walked out of the room. "Dean. I need you to go back to your room and lie down. Your body has just recovered from one tremendous shock and now it's had another. Your system is over-tasked."

"You have no idea," Dean thought. His father's last message, whispered in confidence, had shaken him to the core. John had given Dean vital information to be kept from Sam until Dean deemed the time to be right. At the moment, Dean hadn't understood the timing, but now… He wished his father had trusted him more, had trusted them both more, but John had been determined to fight his battle with the demon without interference. Keeping Sammy in the dark would be devastating when the information came to light. Both men would suffer for it. Dean looked over at Sam, afraid of what he might see.

Sam felt as if he'd been dropped into a well. Sounds were distant echoes, and there was no solid ground under his feet. He was suspended in air dreading the impact. Tiny tremors traveled up and down his torso. He kept hearing his father's last words to him and the look on his face. "Can we not fight? You know, half the time we fight, I… I don't know what we're fighting about. We're just butting heads. Look Sammy, I've made some mistakes, but I've always done the best I could. I just don't want to fight any more okay?" Sam had known something was wrong, but he never dreamed John would die. Why hadn't he seen his father die? He'd seen other people die, people he didn't know and had no feelings for at all. Visions of the Miller men and Monica with Rosie had haunted and blinded him but nary a sight of John falling. He felt the doctor's hand guiding him out of the room and blindly followed. Back in Dean's room, he leaned against the wall and stared into space. Now what?

Dean reached towards his bed blindly. Sam had dragged him from it only moments before. His loss still floated on the surface of his mind, slowly but surely sinking in like a leaden weight in his stomach. What was it he had to do? That's it. Sammy. His father's order, "I want you to watch out for Sammy okay?" He looked over at Sam. Dean hated emotional displays of any kind, but right now that didn't matter. His brother's expression scared him with its blankness. He grasped Sam's bicep but wasn't prepared for the reaction. The younger man came back to awareness with a jerk backwards that slammed his head into the wall behind him. "Whoa, Sammy! It's me." Dean searched Sam's eyes for some glimmer of recognition. There was none. He slowly approached Sam again as if he was a deer. His fingers clasped Sam around the wrists and pulled him away from the wall. Sam slowly blinked and acknowledgement of Dean's presence finally filled his eyes. With a sob, both brothers clasped each other, neither one ever sure who had moved first but both taking and giving comfort to the other.

The doctor left the two alone to help each other with their grief. Lord knows he'd been prepared to see such a display with this family but not with the two brothers comforting each other. He still couldn't comprehend the elder's recovery. Thank goodness he had recovered for he believed if Sam had needed to deal with two deaths, the doctor was almost certain the loss would not have stopped with only two.

At the end of his rounds that evening, the doctor entered the room and self-consciously cleared his throat. "I need you to stay here one more night, Dean. I know the test results came back good, but I want another night of observation to be sure." Unspoken was the thought that John had apparently recovered, yet now he lay dead. He hoped they could determine COD for his own piece of mind. He hated mysteries of that nature as much as he hated losing a patient. "I hate to do this, Sam, but I need you to go and get some sleep. You can't stay here; there's nowhere for you to sleep. Is there someone you can call to come over?"

Dean didn't want Sam to leave. He was all he had left. Knowing what he now did, it was especially important to keep track of Sam. No wonder his father had kept dropping by Stanford to check on him. But there was no one Sam could call. Pastor Jim and Caleb were gone too. Three important men gone forever from their lives.

"I'll call Bobby," Sam said softly.

"Bobby? Is he here?" questioned Dean, surprised. He wondered if Bobby had visited him.

"Yeah, he came to get the Impala. It's a mess, Dean, but we'll work on it and get it fixed."

The Impala wrecked! How could he have forgotten? Sam had said "we" so he wasn't going to give up. That unconscious affirmation assured Dean. Bobby had a calming affect on people and that would help get Sam get through the night until both brothers could help each other. "Ok, just be sure to come get me tomorrow so we can figure out what to do next." The last word came out with a sob that Dean was not ashamed of. He had been afraid of losing John or Sam one day but now it was real. He didn't know how to cope.

"I'll see you tomorrow," Sam whispered before turning away and heading listlessly down the hallway. He still walked in a dreamlike state. He had thought the nightmare was over when Dean had woken up gasping just this morning. It had to be a dream, didn't it? Why couldn't he wake up? A part of his mind didn't want him to wake up; Sam knew the truth he was hiding from and that an awakening would hurt. He'd lost everyone but Dean. His mind kept replaying images without his direction. Struggling to help his father and Dean to the car. The argument. The crash. The possessed truck driver. Hearing the EMTs talking about them but not answering his questions. The helicopter ride. Thank goodness Dean had been out for that. He'd have freaked to wake up and find himself flying. Watching Dean die and be resuscitated. Communicating with Dean's spirit. More confrontations with his father. Finding his father collapsed on the floor. Hearing John Winchester declared dead. Sam's thoughts kept circling around the last three memories like a hummingbird around a tasty flower, touching briefly before flitting backwards before returning. He didn't feel guilty about lying to Dean about Bobby being there. Bobby had been at the motel but was now headed home towing the Impala. He had known Dean wouldn't rest if he knew Sam was alone, and there was no way Sam was going to cause his brother more stress. He needed to come to grips on his own. He'd have to. Dean would hide his own sorrow and grief so why not Sam? Dean had dealt with Sam's nightmares too long. He needed one more night of uninterrupted rest. Sam was afraid to close his eyes.

After another thorough exam, the doctor left Dean alone with his thoughts. Dean knew that he'd have to make arrangements about his father. Call their friends, those who were still alive anyways. Thank goodness Bobby could help Sam. Oh God! Dean scrambled out of bed and searched for his cell phone. Finally finding it, Dean scrolled down and hit Bobby's number.

"Dean!" The wonder in Bobby's voice cheered Dean a bit. Bobby was thrilled. He'd been on the road for a while, worrying about what John planned to do with all those herbs and other supplies. He'd hated telling Sam about them, but he had never been very good at poker. The boy had seen something was up. Driving, Bobby had prayed that Dean would improve. With John on his crusade, Sam definitely needed his older brother. The way he'd obeyed Dean's command with the exorcism scared Bobby. He knew Sam hadn't wanted to do it, but he obeyed Dean. He trusted Dean implicitly. If Dean had died, there was no way that John and Sam would have been able to stay together. Both were so pig-headed about certain things, the demon hunting being most predominant. "How are you? Everything all better?" Bobby laughed with glee at the mental picture of Sam's delight.

"Nooo." Dean's voice choked. "Sam's on his way to you in the motel. I needed to warn you."

"What do you mean? I'm on the road. Sam knew that I was leaving this afternoon with the Impala."

"What! Why that . . ." Dean slammed his hand into the mattress. "He knew I wouldn't let him leave to be alone."

"Slow down and tell me what the hell you're talking about."

Dean took a deep breath. "Dad died this morning. We don't know what happened. He came to see me after I woke up and then left. Sam found him on the floor in an empty room. They couldn't save him." Dean's voice broke again, and he rubbed his hand over his face. His memory kept replaying their last conversation. John spoke. "I just want you to know that I am so proud of you." Words Dean had craved his entire life. John whispered. Words heard with dread.

Bobby pulled over to the side of the highway. He'd been afraid of what John had planned to do. He must have tried to ride the whirlwind which spat him out instead. That man had loved his two boys with every fiber of his being. Bobby had a suspicion behind Dean's miraculous recovery. John had made a choice. The boys would have to live with that; their closeness should help them. Maybe they'd never learn exactly what had happened. Sam did know about the stuff Bobby had sent John, however, and that boy was as tenacious as a bulldog. He pulled his errant thoughts together. "What were you saying about Sam?"

The doctor told him to leave for a while to get some sleep. I guess Sammy knew I'd not let him go somewhere alone. God! I don't know what goes on in that freaky head of his sometimes. He's not thinking straight."

"Come on, Dean. Can you blame him? He'd been through hell watching you dying, believing there was no hope, and then your daddy dies?"

"I know. I just can't leave him by himself right now. After his girlfriend, Jessica, was killed, he became so furious and reckless. You would not have recognized him at all. Now he only has me to keep him steady."

"You want me to turn around? It will take me a couple of hours to get back."

"Thanks Bobby, but I'm going to get myself out of here. What motel and room is he in? Dad's last. . .his last words were to take care of Sammy. I need him too," Dean sounded like the young boy he had been when Bobby had first met him. "I'll call you tomorrow, Bobby, and thanks for everything."

"You both take care now and come to my place as soon as you can."

Dean limped over to the small closet and found some clothes. They weren't what he'd been wearing before the crash; those had probably been cut to shreds. These were Dean's clothes, however. Sam had never given up on his brother. Time to return the favor. Dean slunk out. He didn't have any money, but he could see the motel sign relatively close. The walk would give him time to think about what he could say.

Sam didn't hear the knocking on the door. It increased in tempo and volume, but he was deaf. He sat hunched on one bed, staring at nothing, shaking with increasingly intense tremors. His breathing was ragged and rapid and the only sound he could hear was his heart beating a rapid tattoo that echoed inside his skull. Sweat joined the tears running down his face. Why had he picked that fight with his father? Why couldn't he just leave well enough alone? Had he pushed his father into a heart attack? His dad had asked Sam to leave. Sam wished. . . he wished for too many things but knew they wouldn't be granted. How could they be? He killed everyone he loved. Now only Dean was left.

Dean picked the lock of the motel door. He could see Sam sitting upright on the bed so he flicked on the wall switch. Dean sat on the bed opposite from Sam and peered at his brother. There was no acknowledgment of his presence. Sam looked horrible. Dean touched his hand to get Sam's attention. No response and his hand was clammy and cold. He touched Sam's wrist to check his pulse. Dammit! He was going into shock. Dean grasped Sam's arms and lightly shook him. Nothing. Dean started lightly slapping his baby brother's cheek. Sam finally shuddered and looked at him with hollow eyes.

"Dean? What are you doing here? Is it morning already?"

"No, you idiot. I called Bobby and found out you lied to me. I came to check on you. Good thing I did 'cause you are not in good shape. Stand up!" Dean twitched the bedspread down and gently pushed his brother back down onto the bed. He crouched down to remove Sam's shoes. Sam watched passively before meeting Dean's gaze once again. Dean pushed him back and pulled the covers over Sam. "You've got to warm up." He turned around and grabbed a pillow off the other bed and stuffed it under Sam's feet. Dean clambered next to him on the bed and put his back against the headboard. He'd have to keep an eye on Sam all night to make sure he didn't get worse. Dean had his orders. These he could follow full-heartedly.

Sam looked up at his brother. Once again, Dean came out of the darkness for him. A breath hitched in his throat. He'd come so close to losing Dean. "Dean." His voice failed him. "There was sulfur in that hospital room where I found Dad. It attacked him! He called it and now he's gone. Why did he leave us? Did he hate me so much for…"

"Where did you get the idea he hated you?"

"He sent me away. He didn't even say goodbye." Sam's voice trailed off into a muffled sob.

"Oh, Sammy." Dean clasped his broher's shoulder. What could Dean say to Sam? John had never been much for saying goodbye, ever, and this goodbye had come after harsh words. Sam was surely beating himself up about those. Dean knew the future would be bumpy for them with both being ridden by guilt, remorse, and anger.

Where do we go from here?"

"I'm not sure yet, Sammy, but we will go wherever together. Don't you ever forget that!"

Sam's eyes closed and his breathing finally evened out. Dean kept touching his brother's face. It wasn't just to see that he was getting over his shock. Dean needed the comfort of knowing his Sammy was still there. Dad had left them in a way they could not follow. The hunt was now theirs and theirs alone. Others could help but Dean didn't want to lose any more of their friends. He leaned his head back against the wall and stared off into the night. And thought about what John had imparted to him at the last. One traitorous tear escaped, quickly followed by another and another until Dean's shirt became damp. He waited for the sunrise.

Please review. I'm enjoying writing and would appreciate any advice.