Usual disclaimers apply.

Well let me just say a huge heartfelt thanks for all those reviews for this story. Thanks one and all. They truly were an inspiration to keep my fingers typing in the wee hours of the morning. I tried not to get over sentimental here with the boys in this final chapter but I may have lost it by the end! Let me know what you think. Roz.

o0o0o0o0o0o0o

Becoming Invisible

Part 6 – Aspirin

The cold from the ground quickly leeched the warmth from his backside and it galvanised him into action. "Come on bros we have to get up." he argued softly. Sam chose to ignore him by closing his eyes and letting himself fall back weakly into his lap with a resisting groan.

Dean realised his brother was not going to get his butt off the ground anytime soon and wriggled out from under him with a muttering of soft curses as Sam still refused to do anything but lie there.

On getting back on his feet he would have laughed at the scene if it wasn't for the fact that it was his younger brother lying on the ground and not some small town drunken kid doing a Saturday night special.

Alcohol and a head injury rang warning bells in his head, but when he had checked both pupils were equal and reactive and that was always a good sign. He was just more drunk than anything else and would be suffering for it in the morning. The best thing he could do for his brother was to let him sleep this one off. Once he got him back to the motel he could monitor him closer there.

Decision made he bent down and tried to raise his younger sibling up but he was a dead weight in his arms and he fell back down again with gentle thud to the ground. As his brother flopped easily back on the grass Dean, not for the first time, cursed his brother's too long frame heavy in his hands. "Jeez kid you're gonna give me a hernia at this rate. Think of the family jewels dude!"

Awkwardly he tried adjusting his position, fisting his brother's jacket between his hands and bracing his legs apart for leverage and then with one quick jerk he snatched his brother upright.

As his brother's limp frame shot upwards the momentum sent them into a slow backwards dance that Dean struggled desperately against. His way too tall brother's weight was threatening to bring them both down and the air soon turned blue as Dean swore true to form fighting the gravitational pull so hard that his muscles burned as they both teetered dangerously close the cemetery wall again.

Just when he thought gravity would win over the pull stopped and a voice whispered above him. "What yer doing Dean?"

Sam was once again awake, staring down at him confusedly, feet thankfully supporting his own weight, wondering why his brother looked so pissed.

Dean blew out a breath in relief, because an awake Sam had to be easier to manage now and as long as he could put one foot in front of the other he could get him back to the impala. "We're going for a little drive."

"Okay," responded Sam voluntarily, letting his brother guide him forwards with an arm cinched tightly around his waist. "You gonna drive?"

"Don't think a klutz like you is in any fit state to drive," rebuked Dean as he opened the passenger door. Sam seemed to slip into the seat as if all the bones in his body had melted and Dean had to stop him from slum dunking his head against the dashboard.

"What is it with you trying to bash your brains out tonight?" he groused sourly as he pulled the seatbelt as a guard over his brother's chest but his words fell on to deaf ears as Sam curled his head away and drifted off back to sleep.

On gunning up the engines he let out a tired sigh of relief, thankful for small mercies. A drunk Sam rambling all the way back to the motel was not his idea of fun.

He ate up the miles along the road blindly, chewing over in his mind all the words Sam had stung him with earlier. From Walker to Anderson he kept on pushing his brother away and knew that one day if he didn't learn how to let him back in then his brother would eventually walk away.

Sam frighteningly was strong enough to do that. Leave him if he had to. Hell he had done it before in the past and would do it again in the future unless he learnt to control this bitter rage eating him up inside pushing his brother aside. He had lost him for four years before because of their stubborn pride, and Sam's reminder that he had learnt to cope on his own had bitten deeply.

A green naïve 17 year old had left home, left him and dad, and despite their expectations that he would come running back to them when real life snapped around and bit him on the ass he had managed to survive alone to grow stronger and resolutely independent of their umbrella of control.

It was a different Sam he had faced in Palo Alto, more assured and secure within himself. Hell he had four years away from his family to mature and change into a man he now sometimes struggled to connect with and understand. And deep down a part of him hated him for it, because he shouldn't have made it so easily without him, he should have come home as expected and kept him whole.

As he watched his brother doze in his seat he could see the damage done to his brother tonight visible on his face but knew that if he looked closer he would find a years' worth of pain also beneath it. But that was something he didn't really want to have to think about right now, instead he turned on the radio and blasted out a wall of sound to drown out his thoughts.

o0o0o0o0o0o0o

By the time the impala swung into the parking lot of the motel Sam had revived enough to sit there face scrunched up in disgust at the noise. Already the headache from hell was rearing its ugly head, and fingers had found fresh lumps on his head that he couldn't remember having there that morning.

Dean at seeing him awake eyes snapped off the radio noting the grey complexion of his brother. "You better not be thinking about puking in my car brat. You hear me?"

Sam nodded mutely and struggled out of his seatbelt just as Dean opened the passenger door hauling him upright again and started the short walk over to their room, with the bright neon back wash from the motel's large welcome sign lighting their way.

Sam looked at his brother, feeling the need to break the silence but only started to giggle inanely on glancing down at his brother. "Dean, you're all glowy and green. Just like Mr Burns…."

His long fingers reached out trying to touch the neon light mapping his brother's face, thinking it funny that Dean hadn't noticed this before. A hand slapped his fingers away and he blinked hard before he asked with a wide bright smile. "Hey… am I all shiny too Dean. Am I?"

When Dean merely grunted he took that as a positive. "Yay, we're both green. Just like the Hulk. You remember the Hulk Dean, don't ya? His pants never split. Never. He should have been running around butt naked cos' no way was Dr Banner's skinny pants gonna fit the Hulk. Am I right Dean. Not gonna fit….no way."

Rolling his eyes Dean he muttered under his breath. "Oh God I may just end up smothering him with a pillow if he keeps this up all night."

With one arm still firmly round his brother's waist he managed to open the motel door and pulled Sam into the room, growling his displeasure.

"Are you mad at me?" asked Sam questioningly as Dean pushed him deliberately onto the bed. "Why are you mad?"

Dean cut off his brother with a curt response, hoping that his brother wouldn't keep pushing the issue like he normally did. "We'll talk about this tomorrow."

"But it's all messy…" he paused suddenly looking at his hands in the semidarkness" Hey we're not green anymore. Where'd it go?"

"Jeezuz will you put a sock in it. You were never green. It was the hotel light you dork."

"What do you want to talk about tomorrow?" asked Sam abruptly, seeming to be playing catch up two steps behind with the conversation. He looked up at his brother earnestly, eager to make that connection with him. "We could talk now. Do you want to know about Candy. She kept squeezing me …"

His exasperation with his brother growing, Dean snapped back harshly. "Look I could give a rats ass about wanting to know about you having your bits touched up by a slutty piece of trailer trash right now. Its late, I'm tired and this can all wait till tomorrow. Got it?"

Sam blinked hard, nodding once biting down on his bottom lip as he hid his eyes from view. 'Tomorrow' was his brother's way of telling him to shut the hell up, he told himself and guessed he must be annoying him again.

Whatever energy that had galvanised him into action since waking in the car seemed to drain out of him as his mind muddled over his brother's warning words. Time to shut up again. Dean didn't want any chick-flick moments he reminded himself trying to rein in the tumble of emotions swirling in his head Absently he fingered the lump on his forehead and wondered once again why it throbbed the way it did.

Out of habit Dean, seeing the pain flicker across his brother's face inspected his head a little too roughly perhaps as he jerked his face from side to side examining the small clotting wound on the right temple till Sam pulled back with a muffled 'Ouch.'

He huffed with relief when he saw that it wouldn't need stitches, and the lump on his other temple seemed to be just that - a lump. Nothing too sinister going on, nothing that a good nights sleep wouldn't cure. Or a stern talking to in the morning wouldn't set straight.

Dammit, the kid had been lucky this time. But the next time it could be something worse than a hangover and a bruised forehead. Next time luck may not play any part in it. No, he told himself, there would be no 'next time'. Sam had to get with the programme and stop being so reckless. Going off on his own was no longer an option.

Sam felt his brother leave his side only to return to shove a couple of painkillers into his hand followed by a glass of water. Nodding his thanks he decided to hold his tongue. It would be better to deal with his angry older brother later when his scalp didn't feel like it was going to peel of his head or his stomach turn itself inside out.

Kicking off his shoes and shrugging out of his jacket he slumped down onto the bed and rolled on to his side. The view of the grey walls were a whole lot more appealing than the angry scowl marring his brother's face right now. Tiredly his eyes danced over the swirling lilac pattern in the wallpaper till his lids grew too heavy and sleep claimed him.

He didn't feel the blanket being pulled up over him to offset the chill in the room. Or notice the ministrations of gentler fingers wiping away with a damp cloth the trail of dried blood down the side of his face, or feel how his fringe was lifted from his forehead as his brother studied him momentarily in sleep, happy that for now he was safe.

Nor did he hear softly whispered words as Dean leant over him to switch off the bedside lamp. "Night Sammy."

o0o0o0o0o0o

The overwhelming sensation of thirst drew from dreams to pull him slowly awake. He swallowed dryly, his tongue felt thick in his mouth and the need for water was all consuming. His whole body yearned for it and his eyes slowly opened trying to figure out how to achieve that goal.

Then another sensation made itself known. Sound. Instinctively his ears pricked up as a familiar voice murmured in the background, but what caught his attention fully was the resolute sound of a door shutting, and then the room was quiet again.

"Dean?" he called out faintly, a flutter of panic sitting in his stomach when there was no response. Ignoring the pain in his head he rolled off his back and managed to sit up only to feel the room spinning crazily at the movement. "Whoa man," he told himself, "This is so not good."

Cradling his aching head in his hands, he fought down the bile rising up his throat and once again was reminded of his desperate need for rehydration. It was too dark to see clearly and he let a hand fumble outwards searching for the bedside lamp. Fingers brushed against something solid, found the switch and managed to turn on the lamp.

Blinking against the bright light he twisted around, and saw the familiar dingy hotel room that they had booked into the night before. Nothing had changed. The room looked the same as he had left it that morning, but he couldn't understand why his head felt like someone had been playing football with it.

The familiar rumble of the impala engines sent his mind whirling into action and he staggered upright stumbling in an unsteady gait across the room to pull the curtain aside only to see the car pulling away. "Dean…?" He whispered out loud. But his brother was gone before he could even begin to wonder why.

Groaning softly, ignoring the pain slicing through this skull, he tried to figure out what was happening, casting a bleary look around to see if his brother had left a note. Nothing. The only thing that he could be certain of was that his brother had left him behind.

He sank down into a hard backed chair and pressed his fingers against his temples pushing back the thumping in his head, desperately trying to recall what had happened during the night.

Images, fuzzy and jumbled, flickered in and out of sight Of strange girls and beer. Of a graveyard, a scared woman and a large Polish man wanting to strangle him for some reason only to evaporate as quickly as he had become solid. But most worryingly of all was remembering at just how pissed off his brother had been with him.

This was not good at all. Had he made Dean leave? Was he really that mad at him?

Swallowing hard he knew that he had to find out where his brother had gone and try to repair whatever damage he must have done. Perhaps he'd just gone off to unwind somewhere, but at squinting at his clock on the wall that hope faded. It was well past 2am and his brother would be hard pressed to find anything open at this time in the morning.

Despite the wobble in his legs he struggled upright. Wincing as both a headache and the throb of his broken arm reminded him of a day of events that he would sooner rather forget he fumbled around for his phone in his jean pocket only to find it dead, another reminder of just how fucked up his life was becoming.

'Great', he growled to himself in disgust, "Just frigging great.' The motel room had no phone and he dressed himself as best he could, managing along the way to have that much needed glass of water, which he kept down despite the threatened rebellion from his stomach.

For a moment he wondered about the benefits of some painkillers but the thought of swallowing them made the nausea worse and he quickly put that thought aside. Also he needed to remain sharp he told himself, and the warm coddling affects of the painkillers were not what he needed right now.

Still battling away the fuzzy edges that kept creeping into the edges of his vision he made it to the door without tripping, and growing more confident he quickly stepped aside. He gasped in surprise at just how cold the air was at it wrapped around him.

Huddling into his cotton jacket he paused, trying to concentrate on what he had to do. Nodding to himself, he started on his way. The first thing was to get to a phone, find out where Dean had gone and finally, most importantly, not screw up more than he had already.

o0o0o0o0o0o

"You're a mess man," warned Dean as he guided Ben back to the impala. Reaching into the trunk he hauled out a towel to give to the older man. "Don't ruin my upholstery dude. I didn't spend weeks putting my baby back together for you to bleed out all over her."

The shorter stockier man gave a wry weak grin, pulling the towel tightly over his left forearm, stemming the flow of blood to a manageable level, limping over to the passenger door as his torn up knee protested each step. "Thanks for coming Winchester. My rides a frigging write off."

"But you got the sucker first, right?" asked Dean, really not wanting to have to go finish the job right now.

"Yeah, yeah. Sorted man. Bastard didn't like me much though and decided to take a few chunks out of me before I dusted it." Wiping a shaky hand over his face he added, "Man, I must have passed out from the blood loss or something, cos next thing I know I'm sitting in a ditch and the car's totalled."

"This was real dumb dude." responded Dean casting a quick eye over the older hunter. "If this was a two man job you should have waited. Next time I won't be around to bail out your sorry ass."

"Yeah," laughed the older man harshly. "Though bitch if I remember rightly you owe me a couple of favors, and this is my way of collecting one of them! Don't want you to feel beholden to me all your life boy."

Dean smirked and slammed the trunk shut and walked over to the wrecked car quickly, crowbar in hand. It took awhile to jimmy the mashed up trunk open and then it took longer than he cared for to clear it out, but he owed the man too much not to help him now.

When Anderson had called he knew it was urgent, nothing else would have made his old friend ring at such a late hour. Weighing up the situation as best he could he decided that to rouse Sam, get him dressed and ready for travel was time his friend could ill afford.

Time was at a premium, especially if the local law enforcement became involved. God knows the last thing any hunter needed was having their arsenal of weapons and other paraphernalia up to L.E.O. inspection. Funnily enough, he thought wryly to himself, with those pesky gun laws and local bylaws coming into play, jail time always seemed to follow such visits.

It hadn't been too hard a choice to make because his little brother had been well and truly out for the count, and judging from how deeply he seemed to be sleeping he would remain that way for sometime to come if he had to hazard a guess.

Sam and alcohol were potent mixture for sleep it appeared, and he stored that fact away for the future reference.

Still it was not a natural choice leaving him alone like that and he could kick himself now for leaving in such hurry that he hadn't thought to leave a note for him just in case he did wake up. For a moment he wondered about ringing him but quickly put that aside. It would only cause more hassle than it was worth, best leave Sam sleeping it off, he told himself.

With the last of Anderson's stuff crammed into the impala's trunk he started on the short ride to the hospital. A cursory glance at his friend had shown him enough to know that he would need more than a few stitches to fix the mess he had gotten himself into this time. Hospital time beckoned.

Tiredly he swung the car round and gunned it back down the highway, chewing thoughtfully on his bottom lip. Sam would be okay, he told himself. Not even the wailing of the dead would wake him up tonight, and those once relentless nightmare since Jessica seemed to have settled, so yeah he'd be fine. So his inner consciousness whispered in his ear again, 'So why the hell are you worrying over him again.'

Wincing in his seat, trying to find any degree of comfort Anderson cast a glance over at his unnaturally silent driver. From their meeting the other night he had managed to wheedle out just how devastating John's death was proving for the younger hunter, but knew that eventually he would be able to deal with it and get back on track. Dean Winchester was a born fighter and would learn to overcome the loss. Hell that's what they all did, at some point or another. Hunting wasn't made for the weak hearted.

Trying to break the silence Anderson asked with a knowing wink. "So did I interrupt anything earlier!"

Dean cocked an eyebrow, "Wouldn't you like to know old man."

He tapped a beat absently against the steering wheel his gaze fixed firmly once again on the road. Ten minutes to the hospital he calculated. Drop and run might take another fifteen minutes and then another thirty minutes to tail it back to Sammy. Too long a time. His foot pushed heavier on the gas pedal and the car slammed forward screaming down the highway.

Anderson raised an eyebrow at the dramatic increase in speed. "Jeez dude I must be worse than I thought!" casting a dramatic eye over himself to locate any other hurts that he might have missed. "You want to get me to the hospital alive, I've already done driving into the ditch thing tonight."

"Yeah well I've got to get back to my brother, I left him alone." responded Dean distractedly.

"Thought you said he was pain in the ass and didn't need you babying him anymore." He threw back Dean's back words to him from the night before and saw the younger man visibly flinch. "Hey sorry, touched a nerve there or what?"

"Yeah well the idiot sort of ran into a bit of trouble himself tonight."

"What sort of trouble?"

Shaking his head Dean tried to end the conversation. "It's a long story man…."

"So give me the abridged version then. Not like I don't need something to take my mind away from my busted kneecap and chewed up arm is there? And you look stressed out man. Go on and make an old man happy and spill the beans about this irritating little brother of yours," he demanded.

Laughing at his friend's insistence Dean knew that once Ben got something in his sights he would never stop pushing. Taking a deep breath he surprised himself at the speed the words started to rush out of his mouth.

"The stupid kid got wasted. Totally ape-shit wasted. He went off to the next freaking town to have his busted arm fixed, which oh by the way did I mention he broke at our last gig – two days ago." He turned his head to his friend to show his disbelief. "Two whole freaking days."

"Wow" muttered Anderson a little taken aback by the anger in his friend's voice.

"Then the idiot decides to mix painkillers with beer, gets picked up by some scary ass woman who tried to batter each other senseless in a fight over him. He makes for the hills and when I finally get him on his cell the idiot tells me that he's lost. I tell him to stay put but no he has to wander off and hits his head. Not once, but frigging twice. So yeah, you could say that I am little stressed right now because sometimes being a big brother well and truly sucks…."

He took in a long breath and waited for Ben to respond but on stealing a glimpse over to his passenger saw the older man huddled over with suppressed laughter at his outburst despite his obvious pain.

Struggling for breath Ben caught Dean's scowl and waving his good hand in his friend's direction to offset any offence he managed to stutter out. "Oh thank god I was an only child."

o0o0o0o0o0o

Everything was in shadows beyond the brightly lit motel road sign and once again the dim lighting made for an uneasy companion as he walked down towards the town square.

'All I want is one working phone in this dead beat town', he begged the heavens, but it seemed that the idle youth of Ridlington took delight in vandalising any phone booth they could get their hands on. The last one didn't even have a phone attached anymore.

When he reached the tatty small town square he sat down on a frost covered wooden bench wearily thinking over his options. On his trek for that elusive phone his memories of earlier kept resurfacing and now he was left wondering if he really wanted to be facing his brother again so soon.

A flush of embarrassment crept over his pale cheeks at the memories of Candy and her friend's octopus hands. The bruises on his butt cheeks weren't just from falling down he recalled. And Dean had told him that he had met Candy. Oh God his life was over. Dean would never ever let him live this one down. Ever.

The memories churned his delicate stomach and before he knew it he had spewed his guts over the ground in one long gush. Wiping the spittle away with the back of his hand he felt surprisingly a little better. But the banging in his head still played out a fearsome tune.

Angry with himself he pushed himself upright again and decided to retrace his steps back to the motel. Defeat was heavy on his shoulders, once again reminded of just how screwed up his life had become.

He felt more alone than he had ever thought possible now. It was worse than when he had left for California five years back. At least then he could still dream that one day things would be made right with him and his family.

But now there wasn't that luxury of hope. Dad was gone and Dean deep down knew the reasons behind that. Those odd flicker of resentment he could see in his brother's sideway glances would soon become hate filled given enough time. He just didn't know any more how to reach out and stop it from happening, or even if he deserved to try.

Even if his brother did come back it felt like he had already lost him, and there didn't seem a thing he could do or say now to stop it.

The crunch of the frost beneath his feet broke the silence as he walked along the deserted main road. Slowly, counting under his breath each successful step forwards he made his way back to the motel, ignoring the odd car that sped passed him, headlights blinding in the darkness. None of them had that familiar thrum of an oversized engine eating gas at an insane rate. None of them were Dean.

Turning the corner to the motel he was brought up short as the neon sign flickered light on a familiar sight. Sitting in the parking lot was the impala. Frowning he walked up to it, felt the bonnet warm under his cold fingers, and turned questioningly to the motel room wondering if Dean would be inside readying to chew his ass out again. Or was he just readying to leave again?

Then against the flickering light his eyes widened. On the door handle clear fingerprints crimson against the chrome stood out. Blood. His brother's blood?

Galvanised into action his long legs ignored the scream in his head at the too fast movement and he chewed up the short distance between the car and the motel room in seconds

"Dean?" he called out as the door swung open before he could reach it.

"Sam?" called back Dean in return, and his hands snaked out to grab him and pull him into the room in a spin. "Where the hell have you been?"

The fact was that when he had walked back into the motel room only moments before to find his baby brother missing his world had bottomed out and the cold dark feeling of panic had taken over. Seeing him standing there a few seconds later had been a prayer answered.

"There was no phone. Not one. I really tried but none of them worked…I'm sorry….." answered a bewildered Sam.

"You went out walking alone in the bloody dark to find a frigging phone Are you nuts?" asked Dean hotly. Just what would it take to keep his brother from wandering off today? "You've already had enough fun for one night, why the hell couldn't you just stay put for once?"

"You went. I thought…" He didn't finish as his mouth suddenly dropped open in a silent 'Oh' as his eyes latched on to the smudges of red on his brother's jacket and t-shirt.

Plucking at his jacket he could smell the blood in the air and anxiously he asked. "Oh god what happened? Who hurt you?" Panic took over as Sam continued to clutch wide eyed at his jacket, the stale blood smearing his long fingers, all the while trying to find out visually where his brother had been hurt.

Hands pulled him away from the jacket and his brother's voice broke through the hissy fit of white noise scrambling around in his head. "Sam, its not mine. Ben Anderson got into an accident. I had to take him to the hospital. It's not mine. Okay?"

He wanted to nod his understanding and relief but the pounding in his head grew too intense and the need to escape the tang of copper became overwhelming. Pushing away from his brother he lurched into the bathroom managing to find the sink before his guts heaved again.

Firm hands finally drew him up again, and firm hands guided him back to the bed.

"You okay now?" asked Dean, readying the waste paper basket just in case. His hand felt his forehead, and realised just how cold his little brother was. "How long you been out there little brother wandering around on your lonesome?"

"You left Dean. I didn't know why," countered a defeated Sam.

"Yeah I know I should have left you a note," answered Dean, wrapping a blanket around his brother's shivering form. "You were meant to sleep through this all. Trust you to do the exact opposite kiddo."

"Sorry…"

"Stop saying that. Things will be okay. You'll see." He drew his brother back onto the bed with no resistance and cosseted him tightly in some more blankets.

Tired eyes stared back at him and Sam whispered. ""No Dean. I really am as I don't think I can never make it right for you. Not now. You know Dad loved you so much, right? Totally. You were the reason for fighting the demon. For family."

Dean frowned, wondering what was eating up his little brother. "He loved as both little brother. He may not have said it too many times but he did."

"Not the same though. You were the before times, the happy times. You were what family meant. Always to dad."

"Sam you were always a part of that too…"

"No, not like you. I was the reason why he had to fight. Not the reason for fighting."

"You must have banged your head harder than I thought," huffed Dean wishing that he had never instigated this conversation. The pain radiating from his brother was something he didn't feel equipped to deal with right now. "Get some sleep and things will be less screwed up in the morning."

Sam shook his head, ignoring the throbbing in his skull, and mumbled. "It was different with me and dad, and you know I'm okay with that now. I think I understand why it was so easy for him to not want me in his life for four years. Let me go like that…"

"Easy, is that what you think? You left us, dad told you stay and you left," reminded Dean, battling down the anger at the memories it evoked.

Sam sighed and tried to pull away, to feign sleep if needs be than to get into another argument with his brother right now, but Dean shook his shoulder and he could not refuse as he asked. "Do you think it was easy for dad to watch you go, to not know if you were safe each waking day? "

Curling tighter into himself Sam struggled not to let the tears fall. It would be easier to sleep than have to admit just how stripped raw he was right now. "We both know it would have been different if it had been you wanting to leave him."

Dean shook his head hotly in denial. "Don't say that. He would have been just as pissed if I did what you did…"

Fighting down the pain in his head and the incessant throbbing from his arm Sam sighed before answering. "No, four years without you would have killed him Dean. He needed you just like you needed him. You were always the perfect son for him."

"Damn it, that's not fair," responded Dean, his eyes clouding brightly with unshed tears at hearing the defeat in his little brother's tired voice.

"It's not meant to be fair. Love never is. Don't you see that he loved you liked that. No grey areas in between. There was this balance you two had, the perfect hunters, the perfect team. You were so attuned to each other it was scary at times to watch. He saw you, spoke with you, wanted you by his side."

Wiping away a tear Sam snuffled deeper into the blanket turning away from his brother as he added. "Dad only paid any attention to me after Farnborough when I screwed up enough for him to shout at me. And I'll tell you a little secret - I would deliberately set him off so that at least he would notice me for a time. It must have been nice not to have been so freaking invisible with him."

"You really felt like that all that time? That he kept you sidelined? That he was never interested in you?" asked Dean, seeing his brother differently, wondering what else he had been storing up for all those long years apart. "You're a bigger idiot than I ever gave you credit for if you believe that dad didn't love you fiercely Sam. God he was so proud of you…he would have told you himself given half the chance you jerk."

Sam shook his head. "I already know its too little too late for me with him. And I get it now, that I can never fix what went wrong with him and me."

Dean's heart froze at the reminder of those words he had flung at his brother a month or so ago. "Sam…"

His brother turned round to meet his gaze. His blue eyes dark with unshed tears. "This isn't about me Dean. Its about you and dad and I'm sorry that I couldn't keep that safe for you. And I know that you hate me being around at times when all you want is him back. But please don't be angry with dad anymore. He couldn't help loving you like that. It was a good thing. Dean. A good thing for you both."

The silence filled the room as Sam turned away from his brother's lost expression. Battling to keep his eyes opened he yawned, slowly losing the fight to stay awake, nestling his broken arm over his chest.. "Your friend is going to be okay, right"

"Yeah, he'll be fine after they patch him up. He's a tough little bastard."

"Dean?" and Sam yawned wide again struggling desperately to get his words out.

"Yeah Sam?"

"I didn't mean to turn this into a chick-flick moment. You can beat my ass tomorrow if you like for it…"

Dean watched as his little brother bowed into himself, away from him and felt a pang of loss. This was his baby brother turning away from him again and all he wanted to do was drag him in a hug and tell him that everything would be okay.

But his hands remained still because he couldn't make things okay anymore. Not for him, not for them both.

A divide kept them apart that Sam was yet to learn about. And when he did everything would come crumbling down. Dean chewed his bottom lip, scared again for the secrets he was keeping from his brother. There was a warning of things to come that was a cancer eating away between them all now. How the hell was he supposed to keep him safe from what his dad had told him? His stupid, naïve, still to innocent brother was never meant for such darkness.

Groping for the bag at the end of the bed he fished around till he pulled a half empty bottle of whiskey out. Taking a long slug he glanced again over at his brother and knew that later that morning that they both would need the aspirin. Tilting the bottle in a salute to his brother he whispered. "I love you Sammy. No matter what happens don't ever think that I could ever hate you."

As he took another long slug he prayed for a miracle to keep him safe, letting the tears fall silently, fighting against despair as he tried steel himself for the battle ahead. He was not ready for this. Neither of them were.

The End.