Frayed: by Shannon

Rating: T for some naughty words

Warning: coughdeathficcough

Ingredients: Angst with a side order of angst

Disclaimer: I own nothing supernatural. If I did own Sam and Dean I would love them and hug them and squeeze them and call them George (especially Sammy!).

A/N:Ahem. This is my first supernatural fanfic. I'm writing it for admission into SFTCOL(AR)S. I wrote fanfic back in the stone age for X-Files, Homicide: Life on the Street and My So-Called Life. So I'm trying my hand at this. (gulp!) I would appreciate any reviews (good and bad) that would help me improve my writing and get the tone of the boys right..

Also, a thousand thanks to Faye for beta-ing this for me. I heart her. If there are mistakes, they are solely mine.

"I am sinking" - Metallica

Chapter 1

He manages to get Dean into the room, cursing a blue streak the whole time. Trying to unlock the door while keeping Dean on his feet is a bitch. The room is dark but Sam maneuvers Dean to the closer bed and lowers him onto it. Dean is silent but his hand moves off the bed, searching for Sam. It's okay, Sam whispers, It's okay. This has been his mantra ever since the Aswang got a hold of Dean. This has been his mantra ever since he blew the Aswang away, one part of his brain still whispering "It's okay," while his mouth screamed "Die you fucker, DIE!" and he screamed so loud something felt like it broke in his throat or maybe in his head.

But the Aswang listened at least because when Sam pulled the trigger, once, twice, three times, he could see the wet pieces on the ground like the world's shittiest piñata. He loaded Dean into the Impala with shaking hands and then they were gone. He drove the car like a dozen hell hounds were crawling up its ass. The Impala chewed the asphalt back to the motel in under ten minutes. Sam kept one eye on the road and one on Dean, muttering the mantra the whole time. Every once in a while he threw in a Just hold on or a Dean? Dean, can you hear me? for good measure.

Now Dean's on the bed and Sam has the bedside light on and he's looking Dean over. Dean is pale but there's not much blood. A smear under Dean's nose and he wipes it away. He pulls off Dean's coat, lifts his shirt, checks for cuts and bruises. Flips him over, checks his back. No bruising and no blood. Sam throws his own coat haphazardly onto the other bed and checks Dean's head. No bumps under his hair, and still, no blood. Sam gently lifts each eyelid and Dean's pupils are equal size. Okay. Okay then. No blood and no bruising equals good. Dean is just unconscious. That's not a big deal. In the history of their injuries, "out cold" doesn't even rate a footnote.

Sam sinks onto the edge of his bed. He watches Dean's chest rise and fall. He leans forward and feels for Dean's pulse but his fingers are still trembling and he's not having any luck. Still, the rise and fall of Dean's chest is a good sign. He pats Dean's chest and whispers "It's okay." Sam runs his hands through his hair and stands. The room spins a moment like he just stepped off a carousel but then it shifts back into focus.

See, it is okay. Now he can be useful. This is his chance to take care of Dean like all the times Dean has taken care of him. His mind flips through a rolodex of memories and selects the image of Dean lying in the puddle in the basement with the Raw Head. He snaps the rolodex shut. That time Dean was dying. This time he's just unconscious. A world of difference, folks. So he goes to work.

He removes Dean's shoes and drops them to the floor. He yanks the paisley quilt and sheets from under Dean and pulls them carefully over his brother. Sam's mouth twitches into a crooked grin as he tucks Dean in. How many times has Dean tucked him in over the years? He can't even begin to count. He perches beside Dean. "Hey man, wake up." Dean doesn't move. Sam rubs a fist over Dean's sternum and Dean's arm moves to his side. Not much but at least it's something. Sam huffs. "Be that way. But I'm totally calling you Sleeping Beauty from now on." Sam gets up, hesitates, and puts a hand on Dean's forehead. No fever. Actually, he feels a little cool. Sam roots around in the chest of drawers next to the television and finds a worn blanket. He covers Dean gently and sighs.

There's something he's forgetting. He can feel it tickling the back of his brain. It niggles at him, just out of reach. He remembers the grisly chunks of the Aswang. Should he go back and burn it? Sam runs a hand down his face, uncertain. He really doesn't want to leave Dean . . .

And then he remembers. You don't have to burn Aswangs. Their bodies break down. Fast. In fact, if Sam drove back to the clearing, there would probably be nothing left to burn by now.

Good. Sam sinks into the chair in the corner and watches Dean. He wants his brother to wake up. But maybe the rest is good. He doesn't have a concussion, so he should just let him be. Still, Sam feels nervous. Uneasy. He can't put his finger on it. Sometimes he feels like this after a vision, but he hasn't had a vision, so . . .

What is it?

He sighs and gets ready for bed. He bolts the door, pours a line of salt and pulls off his sweatshirt. He feels sweaty and vaguely gross. He thinks there might be pine needles in his hair. But suddenly he's tired, so tired he doesn't care if there's a fucking tree growing out of his hair, he's going to sleep.

In the middle of the night Sam wakes up. He heard a noise. His brain flicks through the rolodex. He's in Sparta, Wisconsin. He's at the Lucky Six Motel. They killed an Aswang and Dean–

Sam remembers and rolls toward the other bed. "Dean?"

No answer.

A little louder: "Dean!"

And his brother sighs. It's a sound filled with irritation and Sam thinks it's the most beautiful thing he's heard in forever. "I'm trying to sleep here, Samantha." Dean sounds groggy. "What's your deal?"

Sam grins. He looks beatific. "Geez dude, you gave me a freakin' heart attack. How much beauty sleep does a guy need?" He remembers the nickname and adds, somewhat lamely, "Sleeping Beauty."

Dean snorts. "That was awesome Sam. You can call me Princess names all night as long as I get to sleep through 'em."

Sam pushes himself up on his elbows. "Are you okay though? Do you feel all right? When that thing grabbed you–" Sam swallows hard "–I was really afraid that–"

Dean cuts him off. "So you admit you're a chicken. I'm shocked and chagrined."

He pats his pillow, trying to get comfortable. "Okay, not really. I've always known that. But I'll pretend to be shocked and chagrined if you want."

Sam laughs. "That's not what I was going to say, jerk. I was afraid you were really hurt." A pause. "And frankly, I'm shocked and chagrined you know the word chagrined."

Dean makes a face. "Sam, please tell me you woke me up for something more important than this conversation."

Sam frowns. "I didn't wake you up. You called me." Hadn't he?

Dean pulls the covers up. "I didn't call you, Geek Boy. Go back to sleep."

"Are you sure you feel ok?"

Dean fakes an especially loud snore. "'Night Sammy."

Sam rolls his eyes and lays back. Jerk, he thinks. But he's smiling. And what he really means is: I'm glad you're okay.