To my fellow SFTCOL(AR)S!, the girls that keep me sane in hiatus with constant Limp Sam love. I hope you enjoy this one parter excuse to limpify our boy. Gem you asked for cold, ask and ye shall recieve my love. Merry Christmas one and all.

Warnings: I apologise in advance for my lack of knowledge of the medical field, any advice or hospital instruction you see in this fic is entirely fictional, and I am not known for my medical prowess so please forgive any serious medical glitches.

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute? – Our Town, Thornton Wilder

Winchesters didn't do snuggling.

They were manly men, they made fires, they peed in the woods, they hunted, occasionally they even managed the odd embrace, but only if it was in a life or death, 'thank god you're ok we thought we'd lost you' kind of way. But snuggling was pretty much a no go area.

So the position Dean found himself in at this moment was one he really hadn't anticipated. Shifting slightly he jostled his brother as one hand came unconsciously to pull Sam closer.

"Hey. Hey…you sticking with me here Sammy?"

Sam's dark eyes swept idly towards Dean, heavy and slightly glazed. "Mmmhmmm."

"That's my boy."

Dean reached his shivering right arm over and tugged his parka tighter around his baby brother. His hand unconsciously brushed against Sam's and he bit back an oath at the furious ice of his kid brother's skin.

How the fuck had they got into this mess?

The hunt had started off routinely enough and sank swiftly and horrifyingly into the kind of toe-curling shit scenario Dean usually liked to store away at the back of his mind, locked under 'fucked up'.

It rested there like a dark cloud, alongside his mother's fiery death and any other scenario where his Dad or Sam got hurt.

Winchester men didn't do snuggling but right now Dean didn't give a shit as he rested his cheek against Sam's shivering dark hair and prayed for their father, for anyone.

Sam's shaking body was becoming more and more still and the numb muted shaking was scaring Dean a whole hell of a lot more than the spasming that first took hold of his brother. Dean cast a desperate look around the crook of the cave they were lying in and tried to see through the blanket of snow that marked the entrance before them. It was no use.

"It's ok Sammy…" he whispered into his brother's hair, horrified at the break in his voice. "we're going to be ok. All I need you to do is stay with me kiddo. That's all I need you to do, I got you now I promise."

Outside the blizzard raged like a bitch and inside Dean felt his brother slipping from his grasp as tenuously as the tiny flakes of snow disappearing out into the white bottomless beyond.

"The abominable snowman? You've got to be shitting me."

"I'm not. And watch your mouth Dean."

"Sorry sir."

"Where's your brother I want us all out of here in an hour?"

Dean shot an unhappy glance towards the closed bedroom door where he knew his 15 year old brother was preparing his lines anxiously.

"You know it's his first night of Our Town tonight right?"

"Dean. These are people's lives we're talking about." John Winchester growled in exasperation, "he'll get over missing one night."

"There's no way we can do this one ourselves?"

"God damn it Dean, no. We're going to have to split up to cover more ground anyway and I need Sammy watching your back. I can't afford to be worrying about you boys out there too."

Dean sighed and ran a hand across his jaw. His Dad was right if they were going to the mountains like he suspected they'd need an extra pair of hands. He just didn't anticipate Sam's reaction to this abrupt change of plans.

"He's gonna be pissed."

His baby brother didn't disappoint.

"No. Nuh uh no way!"

"No isn't an option Samuel. Get your thermals ready and check your weapons."

"Dad. No! It's opening night tonight I've been telling you all freaking week, I need to be there."

"It's one night Sam, no one will miss you."

"I'm the god damn LEAD Dad!"

"Don't you raise your voice with me kiddo."

Dean sighed and stepped between his warring family. "Sam, we'll call you in sick man, just for tonight. You'll be there for next week we promise."

Sam whirled dramatically, "yeah cause your promises are worth their weight in gold right?"

Dean winced, a little hurt, his promises to Sam were definitely trustworthy, sure their Dad sometimes made some he couldn't keep but it came with the job, with the territory, Sam needed to grow up a little and see that.

"You're going Sammy. End of story." John growled raising his chin and unknowingly becoming the mirror image of his younger son who stood defiantly before him.

"And what if I don't?" The 15 year old spat furiously.

John took a step forward and calmed himself. "Don't test me Sam. I'm not in the mood for your temper tantrums tonight."

Sam bristled at that. "Temper tantrums? God Dad do you have any idea how long I've been working on this play? How many rehearsals I've had to go to, how many people I'll let down? You don't have a clue. You can't ask me to do this."

Dean unconsciously edged closer to his brother, upset by the distraught edge to Sam's deep voice.

"I'm not asking Sam." John managed, angry he had to look up slightly at his baby, his voice gruff as sandpaper. "It's an order."

"Well we wouldn't want to disobey a fucking order now would we?"


Sam seemed to wilt then, all six feet two of him deflating like a pitiful balloon. "Sir yes sir." He finally whispered. Turning on his heel and slamming through to the bathroom the door echoing shut with a bang behind him.

John remained breathing heavily for a beat and when his eyes found Deans' he turned exhausted from the recrimination in his eldest's eyes. "Don't look at me like that Dean. We need him tonight." He ran a hand across his day old stubble wearily. "You think I like doing that to him? You think I enjoy seeing my baby boy look at me the way he did then?"

"No sir." Dean managed wearily leaning against the rented apartment doorframe, caught between sympathy and anger as his feelings so often were when his father was involved.

John nodded tersely and turned out of the room. "One hour Dean."

Sam was used to this. Sitting in the backseat, staring mournfully from the window, watching every house they drove by and wishing to god he was a part of the family inside. But this was different. Usually it'd be a wistful, dreamlike desire for normalcy, for a chance to sit at a family table with a mom who knew you more than six months of your life, a woman who told you you were too skinny and cooked meals at home and asked you about your part in the school play.

Sam was used to that feeling.

What he wasn't used to was being so furious at his family he actually wished himself out of it. But right now as he drove towards the Rockies and the rest of his class prepared to perform their opening night of Our Town miles away Sam Winchester wanted nothing more.

It wasn't fair. It was so, so unfair. He wanted this so badly, had worked so hard for it, but of course the mighty John Winchester didn't give a damn, a freaking yeti trumped Our Town every time.

But the root of his fury wasn't his father. If he looked hard enough he knew it. He was angry at himself, and fucking furious his Dad made him feel this way. Because every time he and his father fought over a hunt Sam felt like a selfish little prick. He knew these were people's lives that were at stake but he couldn't help wanting a life for himself, wanting something outside of the hunt.

He was 15 years old wasn't he entitled that? Wasn't that what every other kid his age were allowed. But no. He had to hunt, he had to make sacrifices, and he hated his father for that, and then he hated himself more for the god damn guilt that plagued him for wanting this so damned badly.

But he did. God help him he did. He wanted to be so badly he could almost taste it. He was the Stage Manager and he was damned good at it. They needed him.

And it felt good to be needed. Not just to hand a weapon over or keep the motor running or be yet another person's backup. No, to carry an entire play, to be valued and admired and genuinely liked. It felt good. It felt great.

It felt like normal. And for a little while there Sam had had it. He'd been normal. They'd finally stayed somewhere longer than a few months, John Winchester allowing them a small apartment in Colorado. Sam had friends, god's honest friends that he could call and go out with and allow himself to get attached to. He even had a girlfriend.

The dial tone in his ear rang through and connected and he swallowed the tears furiously in his throat. "Hi Mrs Connors, Sam Winchester. I'm really sorry but uh I'm feeling awful. And I hate to do this to you but I can't…I can't make it tonight. I'm so sorry. I'm so so sorry."

John Winchester pulled the Impala to a stop at the base of the Rockies and allowed himself a swift glance into the rearview mirror at his youngest.

Looking back at him, he suppressed the urge to sigh. Sam's tall form was hunched and silent, his dark hair hanging forlornly over his silent, solemn eyes.

God, the kid was impossible not to love.

Sam's god damned puppy dog eyes had felled greater men than his father and they'd do it again. Casting a glance at Dean he nodded giving his son the signal to leave the car and Dean swung himself from the passenger seat with a nod back.

Switching off the lights the eldest Winchester swallowed. "Sammy…I'm sorry you're missing your play dude. If there was a way we could do this without you…"

"I know…"

"We'll come see it on Monday son I promise."

The eyes that met him in the mirror were so similar to his own that John read the disbelief in them in an instant.


"We will Sam." He said seriously.

"I'd better help Dean." Came the reply.

The door creaked shut and John didn't feel any better. He rested his forehead down against the wheel for a moment. He was losing his baby. Slowly but surely Sam was slipping through his grasp and he fucking hated it. Hated the anger and the pain and the betrayal in those eyes, hated the bruises he left to Mary's soul, the soul that shone out of Sam's eyes. The innocence he and Dean had fought to protect with every inch of their hearts.

Sam was different. He always had been.

Watching the sullen teen handing the weapons to his brother in the side mirror John suddenly wished for the squirming wide eyed baby, for the bundle of energy toddler, for the floppy haired six year old with an intensity that was almost an ache.

He missed Sammy. Missed being able to make him smile with a simple silly face, missed hearing that laugh of delight when he played the airplane game with his food, missed hoisting him on his shoulders and feeling those tiny hands around his neck, holding on for dear life.

Truth be told, they did need Sam on this hunt, but John needed him here for a different reason, he needed to keep the three of them together as much as possible, he needed to stop Sam straying, needed to watch him. He couldn't afford a dissention in the ranks. Not now. Not ever. His boys were too important to him.

He knew he was hurting Sam. He knew Mary would have kicked him up the backside something fierce for it, but he also knew he couldn't lose his boys. He couldn't let them go where he couldn't protect them. He couldn't lose them, to the supernatural world or the world of normality. The three of them were to stick together. Always. It was safer that way. It would toughen the boys up, prepare them. It'd keep them alive.

It felt right to have Sam by his side. At his back. Even tired and sad having the kid a footstep away, it felt right.

Of course having his father there would be better but they needed to cover more ground this way.

"You boys got everything you need?"

Dean nodded at his father. Watched him holster his own 45.

"Now remember, this thing's supposed to be seriously fast. And I managed to wound it earlier, but I didn't kill it. The 45'll do that. So use it wisely. You got six bullets. Can't afford to get careless."

Sam shifted from one foot to the other behind him, no doubt acclimatising to the freezing conditions.

"I'm taking the North Ridge. I want the three of us back here in one hour. You got your flares incase you need them and you got your phones. One hour boys. I mean it. We see no sign of this son of a bitch we'll come back in the daylight. We can't risk being caught out here when the sun's gone down."

Dean figured it'd take them a good twenty minutes to climb to the ridge he and Sam were casing. Where two of the six dead hikers had reportedly seen the yeti. He glanced up towards the ominously sized mountains revealed through the fog and whistled nervously.

"We got it Dad."

He was nothing if not a good liar.

John nodded and glanced at Sam. "Sam?"

"Yeah?" The teen managed with a defeated frown.

"You good?"

"I'm good" was the reply. And for the first time Dean realised where his baby brother got his lying skills from.

John seemed about as convinced as Dean but he nodded and turned.

Dean concealed a shudder as his father hoisted his bag onto his shoulder and headed out across the snow towards the mountain terrain.

For a moment he and Sam stood in silence watching him go. Then Dean swatted his brother on the shoulder with a fake smile. "Hi ho, hi ho it's off to work we go." He grinned playfully.

Sam said nothing, just led the way in the opposite direction.

"Son of a bitch" Dean swore as he stumbled over yet another jagged boulder and winced at the tear in his jeans.

So far the hunt was not going to plan. Twenty minutes in and the snow swirled around them aggressively, it made it damn near impossible to see. And worse than that Dean was losing his bearings. He couldn't see a foot in front of his face.

"Sammy? Where we headed."

His brother was a mere blob of blue in his vision and Dean had to strain to hear Sam's voice over the roar of the wind.

"I can't…" Sam was shouting.


"Can't…see it…"

Dean reached out roughly for Sam's compass and found he could barely read the instrument either. The thick snow was falling so heavily he could barely see the compass hand before it was covered again.


This was bad.

With a shake of his head and a grip on his brother's arm. Dean turned to Sam. Or at least the blue blob formally known as his baby brother.

"Dude, there's no way we're going to track anything in this. I can barely see you standing next to me."

Sam's dark eyes squinted at him and drops of snow fell from his lashes. "Lets head back to Dad."

Dean nodded, momentarily sparing a thought for his father. Shit he hoped he had thought to go back to their basepoint. They couldn't afford to lose anyone out in these conditions.

Gripping onto his brother Dean steered Sam in the direction to the right of them praying feverently with the now useless compass they could navigate back the way they'd come.

Sam began clambering down the rockface the pulley and rope securely attached. Dean watched his brother disappear into the white with concern. Uhh these conditions were an absolute bitch. They had to get out of here, back to the car.

When he felt the tug on the rope Dean hoisted his bag on his shoulder and hauled ass down. Knuckles scraping at the rockface as his cheeks turned to ice in the biting wind.

Sam grabbed for him as soon as he reached the bottom.

"Dean? We must be at the bottom!" His young voice cried. "I think we're on flat ground, can't see anymore rocks."

Dean allowed himself a momentary smirk and thwapped his brother playfully on the cheek. "Duh Sammy!" He shouted back "you can't see a metre in front of you how would we know if there were more rocks around or not dude?"

Even through the mist of snow Dean saw his brother's eyes roll. "Shut up jerk. We must be near the car."

Dean nodded and brought up the rear watching his younger brother start forward. He was suddenly extremely thankful for the wool hat monstrosity his Dad had brought him last Christmas. He tugged it down over his ears.

The wind whipped up to freaking hurricane level as they walked across the flat surface. Dean squinted, desperately trying to keep Sam in sight.

"Stay beside me Sammy." He roared, struggling to keep the panic from his voice.

Jesus this was bad.

Sam barrelled on ahead.

Freaking teens and their freaking disobedience. Still, Dean counteracted, Sam probably couldn't even hear him over the whistling gale.

They'd been walking for about ten minutes straight when Dean reached down to his pocket for the compass once more. Surely they should have reached some kind of base or civilisation by now. He was cold and fucking sick of this feeling of disorientation and he wanted him, Sammy and his Dad the hell out of here now.

Things weren't supposed to go this far south so quickly.

Fumbling his heavy duty gloves into his parka pockets he paused for a second to withdraw the compass.

As he struggled once more to read the face a loud groaning drowned out the roaring wind and filled his ears and he snapped his head behind him, dropping the compass and reaching for his weapon. Was it the yeti? Shit. That was the last thing they needed.

"Sam, heads up." He shouted praying his brother could hear him.

He whirled abruptly and stood for a beat, reaching for the flashlight in his bag. It offered no assistance as he shone it infront of him. All it did was illuminate the rapidly falling snow.

Fuck they might as well have been blind out here. Deciding swiftly that they were in no condition to win a fight with a yeti right now Dean spun forward again.

He opened his mouth fully intending to scream at Sam to get moving…

And froze.

The horizon was full of snow, everywhere he looked, as far as he could see, which ok wasn't far, but it was infinite white. And no blue…no blob of blue, no irritating younger brother.

No Sam.


No echoing call reverberated through the snow. And suddenly Dean's heart sped up.

"Sam, stay still, wait for me!" He shouted.

Picking up his heavy pace, he desperately hoped his idiot brother had enough sense to realise he was no longer just behind him.

They were supposed to stay together for fucks sake. Sam knew better than this.

Dean trekked forward as quickly as he could manage through the snow. He made it four paces before he stepped off the edge.

When Dean was four his Mom took him to the Swimming baths, he remembered a lot about that trip, but most of all he remembered the absolute terror of being submerged under water, the total and utter surprise as that cold had wrapped itself around his tiny body when he'd first dropped beneath the surface.

Now as Dean registered the icy water around his leg, fuck water, he found his mind froze alongside his body.


A lake, no wonder it was so flat, they were walking across a freaking ice lake.

It was cold. So fucking cold. Like thousands of tiny needles piercing his skin.

Dean's first instinct was to scream. He clutched for safety and found chunks of ice. Clutched them for dear life. He started trying to haul himself out, desperately. Just as he was clambering, hauling his soaking appendage from the icy water, his leg nudged something.

Through the haze of numb pain he brought his hand into the water and reached for the obstacle.

Pulling his leg free and himself onto the hard ice surface he gripped some kind of material in the water and yanked hard.

It took about two seconds for the white of Dean's vision to clear enough to see the flash of blue in the water below him.

It took 2 seconds, just two seconds for his whole life to crumble around him.


"NO!" Dean roared primally as he wrenched his brother's blue parka from the hole in the ice. Sam's dark haired remained face down in the water and Dean screamed desperately. Sam's body was heavy, soaked through and Dean couldn't get him out, oh god he couldn't get him out.

"Sam! Sammy please. Oh god Sammy please. Work with me little brother."

Desperate and distraught Dean used every ouce of strength he could and pulled with all his might. Panicked tears spiking in his eyes, freezing before they'd made it down his cheeks. Jesus.

It was slow and terrifying work but Dean managed to haul Sam out in what couldn't have been more than a minute.

Hand fisting his brother's face to his shoulder he wriggled them both back on the ice till he felt a thicker surface.

"It's ok Sammy. I got ya. I got ya Sam." He murmured as he eased them both to a stop and turned to asses his brother.

Sam was unconscious, his lips were tinged a hideous blue and his face was the kind of grey that was saved for the corpses they salted and burned for a living.

"Oh shit. Shit!" Dean cursed desperately, raising shaking hands to his brother's neck . How long had Sam been underwater? How long had he been under before Dean got him out. God…

Less than thirty minutes till hypothermia set in, Dean knew that, Dean had been taught that damn it, but he had no idea how long a person could go under water before their brain became damaged or worse…

It had been at the most two minutes since he'd lost sight of Sam, but if his brother was under for that time, two minutes was easily enough to kill.


Sam's pulse was slow and weak. And Dean felt his sanity begin to slip.

He needed to get Sam to shelter. The question was where?

Shivering violently Dean tried rousing his brother briefly. "Sammy! Sam!" He patted Sam's grey cheeks vigorously.

Receiving no response he leant his forehead briefly to his brothers. "Come on little brother. Don't do this to me…please."

Sam never stirred and Dean desperately tried to gaze through the surrounding storm. He needed help and he needed shelter. Or he'd lose Sam right here.

It took fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes of not knowing if Sam was dying on his shoulders as he struggled through the snow and discovered the rocky alcove. It was as close to a cave as he could find in these conditions and he sent a silent prayer of thanks to his mother for at least this tiny blessing.

Hunkering down into the rocks he laid Sam down covered him with his own parka before checking again for his brother's pulse.

If possible it seemed even more sluggish than before and Dean allowed a silent sob before collecting himself.

Keep him awake and alert. He told himself.

"Sammy? Sam. Get up." He barked, trying for stern.

When Sam refused to comply he rubbed his knuckles across his brother's wet sternum and was greeted with a low mewling sound.

Dean's heart leaped in his chest and he moved closer leaning his mouth to his brother's ear. "Sam, wake up kiddo."

Slowly, grudgingly Dean was greeted with the most beautiful sight he'd seen in his 19 years when his brother's baby blues fluttered open and glared up at him.


Dean grinned, his smile nearly splitting his face. "Hey Sammy. Welcome back little brother."

Sam's eyes rolled lazily around their current shelter before landing on Dean once more, the elder Winchester couldn't hide the worry at the lack of lucidity he glimpsed in Sam's usual intelligent gaze.


Dean shifted position and pressed his back to the rock face swinging his right arm around Sam's skinny shaking soldiers and propping his brother against his side.

"I know Sammy. I know." He sighed as he felt the vigorous shaking run through his brother and travel up his own arm. "You took a fall into the lake Sam, really bad timing to go for a swim bitch."

Sam shifted slightly further into Dean's embrace, huddling for warmth. "Wha…happened?"

Dean swallowed hard. Concerned at the lack of awareness. "I just told you Sammy."

"Hmmm" was the response.

"Just stay awake with me Sam. Dad'll come find us. We just need to sit tight."

It was with those words that Dean recalled the flares they'd packed. Oh thank god. Of course. He could alert his father, hell anyone if they saw a flare shooting from the mountains.

He turned to Sam.

"Sammy where's your bag dude?"

Sam frowned deeply.


"Lake, Dean…" Sam finally stammered between chattering blue lips. "Sorry…lake…so cold…"

Dean felt his heart sink so far in his chest he could swear he felt it drop right on into his stomach. "The bag's in the lake?"

Sam nodded mutely next to him.

Shit, shit, shit. What the hell were they going to do?

That bag contained not only their flares but Sam's mobile and Dean's had uselessly chimed the no signal as soon as he'd tried it.


He looked again at Sam, noting that the boy was slowly starting to drift off again. "Hey. HEY! You keep awake alright." He ordered gruffly. "Dad'll find us. He'll come looking when we don't meet up at the time."

Sam blinked.

"Sam," he said yet again, louder this time. "Hey. Hey…you sticking with me here Sammy?"

Sam's dark eyes swept idly towards Dean

"Yes Dean" came the exhausted response.

"Yes Dean what?"

"'m staying awake."

Dean nodded and swallowed the lump in his throat. He would go get help, if he could leave Sam alone for a second and trust him to be ok he'd be gone in a shot but he couldn't, he was physically incapable of leaving his baby brother hurt and alone.

Dean cast a desperate glance into the white and pulled Sam closer.

Winchesters didn't do snuggling.

They were manly men, they made fires, they peed in the woods, they hunted, occasionally they even managed the odd embrace, but only if it was in a life or death, 'thank god you're ok we thought we'd lost you' kind of way. But snuggling was pretty much a no go area.

So the position Dean found himself in at this moment was one he really hadn't anticipated. Shifting slightly he jostled his brother as one hand came unconsciously to pull Sam closer.

"It's ok Sammy…" he whispered into his brother's hair, horrified at the break in his voice. "we're going to be ok. All I need you to do is stay with me kiddo. That's all I need you to do, I got you now I promise."

The dark gaze that found his was heavy and slightly glazed. "Mmmhmmm."

"That's my boy."

Outside the blizzard raged like a bitch and inside Dean felt his brother slipping from his grasp as tenuously as the tiny flakes of snow disappearing out into the white.

"When you were a baby you used to sleep with your head practically on my shoulder." Dean announced his voice hushed in the echoed confines of the cave. "You remember Sam?"

Sam managed a shivered shrug. "You…" he breathed in halts "just liked to…c.c…cuddle me admit it."

Dean rolled his eyes, and struggled to bring his own chattering lips into a smile. "You wish bitch!" .

When Sam's head started to droop Dean hurriedly jostled him again. "Hey, none of that dude. Come on talk to me…"

Sam's tone was a bone wearying exhaustion that nobody should sound like let alone a 15 year old kid. "Talk about what?"

"I don't know…" Dean shot back helpless, "anything, you know I'm not good at this talking stuff. I knew you'd find some…" he coughed roughly, steamy breath rising into the ice cold air "find some way of making me talk, well here we are kiddo, you got your way, so what do you want to talk about. Ask me anything? Just keep talking."

"Anything?" Came the whispered reply.


"Wh…wh…why don't you ever fight him?"

Dean's brow rose in to his hairline. "Fight him?"

"Dad…" Sam managed between the nashing of his teeth. "You…you always just do what he says Dean…the good little soldier, even…even when he's wrong. I want to know why?"

Dean squeezed his eyes shut suddenly feeling horribly claustrophobic and wishing he was anywhere but that cave. "I am not having this conversation with you now Sam."

"S'good a time as any."

"No. It's not. Ask me something else."


"Something else Sammy."

Sam's muted shaking was becoming less and less pronounced and he lapsed into a terrifying silence.

"Hey!" Dean grasped for his brother's wrist and was unable to stop the oath from leaving his mouth at the near non existent throb. "God damn it."

Sam's head lolled further against his shoulder and Dean took yet another desperate glance outside. "Sam!"

Sam didn't respond and Dean turned terrified eyes to his brother's face only to meet those puppydog eyes he'd spent most of his life struggling to ignore.

Sam just looked at him, as he'd always done, simply looked at him and Dean crumbled like a thousand year old rainforest. "He's our Dad." He managed raggedly. "He's our Dad and he needs this hunt. He needs us to back him on this life Sam."

"Why?" Sam rasped.

"He wouldn't know what to do if he didn't have this. If he couldn't get vengeance for Mom."

"But what about what we want?" Sam croaked, voice breaking Dean's heart. "Does…Does…Doesn't that c..c..count for something."

"Within reason."

Sam's voice is the kind of faraway wistful tone that chills Dean to the bone faster than the icy night air did. "I really wanted to do this play Dean."

"I know Sammy."

"I was pretty good y… know? Mrs Clemmens said I had acting p…p…potential."

Dean sighed deeply. "You'll still have potential Monday little brother."

"N…N…Not" Sam struggled, "the point."

"Then what is?"

"What we're doing, wh…what Dad's doing Dean, it's not living, you can't call this living…"

"Well we're not dead Sammy."

"Aren't we" came the desperate fading reply. "We drift Dean, from one place to the next fighting one battle after another, we're no different to the…to the…the spirits we claim to hunt."


"I'm tired Dean." His little brother whispered. "I'm so tired of all this…I'm just…tired…"

The last word faded into a slur and Sam's hand became lax in his own. Dean rubbed it vigorously and felt his mouth go dry as he noticed the blue hue of his brother's fingers. "Sam!" He barked.

"Not sure yellow…" The younger Winchester slurred in return. "Dean…somewhere…"

"Sammy" Dean screamed desperately, "you're not making sense."

Sam merely mumbled in gasps and starts, limp and unresponsive beneath Dean's arm. Dean felt like he'd been barrelled into by a two by four, he felt like a visitor in his own body, a part of him knew this was happening but another part simply couldn't comprehend that the kid he's raised, the boy he loved with all he had was dying in his arms in some nameless cave in fucking Colorado. Alone and frightened and freezing.

No. NO!

"Sam!!!! Wake up now. I freaking mean it Sam. Open your god damn eyes."

Sam's eyelids remained closed as Dean lay him flat down on the ground. "Samuel Winchester I just gave you a fucking order god damn it! You do what I say right now."

"Sorry D…sorry…" came from Sam's chapped and navy lips before he lapsed into unconciousness once more. His head lolled to the side and his limbs went slack as Dean tightened his grip on his brother's face.

"Sam?" He screamed his voice filled with a terror he couldn't even comprehend. "Don't you go to sleep on me…" No response. "SAM!"

His voice breaking Dean gathered his brother into his arms once more, all the while keeping one hand firmly around Sam's wrist monitoring the younger boy's lethargic pulse. "Don't do this to me please." Dean whispered, cradling his brother to his chest. "Don't you do this."

Sam Winchester offered little comfort to his big brother. But his chest fought and struggled to rise for air and that was enough for now.

Dean wasn't aware how much time had passed when Sam finally stopped breathing. But he felt it like a knife to the heart.

Sam's chest had been rattling, struggling, wheezing harshly, but it had been moving. Now it stopped all together. He exhaled with a tiny sigh and then his chest simply failed to rise again.

Oh god. No.

Frantically, mind in a daze, Dean laid Sam flat on the ground once more. This time he tilted his head to his brother's airway and kept Sam's chin tilted back, listened for sounds, for something, anything.

He waited for a breath.

One beat.

Two beats.

Three beats.



Struggling desperately to get his shit together for Sam's sake. Dean bunched his fists in his brother's parka for a second before he moved.

Tilting Sam's head back he leaned over and began breathing into his brother's mouth. "Come on Sammy" he whispered between breaths, "come back Sam."

He couldn't remember a time things had ever been this bad. Desperately he searched his mind for a similar desperation or panic and found himself at a loss. Sam wasn't breathing, he wasn't breathing, and something in Dean's mind short circuited right there.

Sam was as grey as the rocks he lay on, his lips and fingers the only part of him that were different, a horrible, dull blue.

Snowflakes drifted in swiftly as Dean worked on his brother, fought to keep him alive. They painted a white picture across Sam's navy blue jacket and Dean sobbed brokenly, brushing them away.

God why couldn't fate just leave them alone.

"Oh god. Sammy," Dean managed, struggling to ignore the taste of salt trickling into his own shaking lips. He moved his jittering hands once more to his brother's neck. After a few seconds he breathed a sigh of relief. The familiar thump was still there. Sam was still fighting.

He may not be breathing, he may be gray and unresponsive and still, but his heart still beat, his strong, fearless little heart and that was more than enough to keep Dean struggling along with him.

Desperately clinging to the boy he'd raised, without taking his right hand off his brother's neck, Dean breathed once again. One, two, three, breathe, one, two, three, breathe.

His mind wandered as he pumped air into his brother's lungs. This couldn't be happening. He couldn't be losing the kid before him. All his life Sam had been Dean's reason. His reason for the fight, his Mom had been John Winchester's reason, and Sam…Sammy had always been Deans'. Sam was the innocent he and his Dad protected, Sam was the baby they'd raised, the toddler they'd taught to walk, the kid that kept them sane, the teen who argued, and questioned, but always, always loved them. Sammy was everything.

And losing him wasn't an option. It didn't bear thinking about.

Beneath his right fingers Dean cold still feel Sam's lethargic weak heartbeat, oh please, oh please, oh please, don't take him from me. He begged anyone that would listen. Don't take him now.

Sam's chest didn't rise below him, nor did he grace his big brother with a glance. His eyes remained closed, his features lax. "Sammy? I need you Kiddo." Dean paused momentarily, tears falling unabashed now onto Sam's frozen cheeks. "You can't go now. What about your play huh?" He breathed once more for Sam before pulling back, "what about your play?"

No response.

"They'll fall apart without their narrator Sam, I promised you. I promised you we'd get you there for Monday. I don't lie to you Sammy, regardless of how pissed you may be at me lately, you do know that right dude?"

One, two, three, breathe.

"And what about Dad huh? What about Dad Sammy? He needs you too."


"He needs you to annoy and question and just generally piss him off till he does the right thing."


"I know you have a hard time with him sometimes Sam. But you two, I swear to god it's like looking in a mirror sometimes. You're so damned similar Sammy."


"He just loves you, he wants to protect you. That's why he's harsh on you sometimes kiddo. He wants to keep you safe. Like Mom did…"

Dean paused brokenly, resting his hand momentarily on Sam's cheek before breathing again. "Like I do."

Sam tasted like salt and his lips were so chilled Dean felt the tremor run through him just breathing air into the younger Winchester.

"I need you Sammy. I need you." He sobbed. "I'm wilfully starting a chick flick moment kid, you know I wouldn't do that unless I was desperate."

The cave filled momentarily with an icy gust of wind and Dean huddled protectively further over Sam, keeping his brother beneath him, shielding him from the breeze. "You gonna seriously let a lake take you down little brother?"


Dean gasped harshly. "Cause that's the most ridiculous fucking thing I've heard Sam."


"Winchesters go out in style Sam, we go all together, saving the world man…not like this…" His voice cracked haltingly, "not like this."

The next time his mouth met Sams he was shaking vigorously, his own body temperature joining his brother's dangerously low. "Don't go anywhere Sammy. You fucking here me baby brother? Don't you go dying on me."


For the briefest of glorious seconds Dean thought Sam was awake. Conscious and lucid enough to say his name.

But then he realised the voice was coming from the entrance to the crevice. "Dean? Sammy?"


Oh god, Dad.

Dean was in so much shock he momentarily froze before screaming as loud as he could. "Daaaaaaaaaaaaaad!"


"DAD! In here, I need help!"

Suddenly like a fucking knight in shining armour John Winchester's dark form filled the entrance to the tiny cave. "BOYS!"


His Dad turned back briefly. "I've found them!"

With a greater relief than he'd ever felt before Dean choked out a sob as he kept bent over his brother.

His father bent his head and strode swiftly to his sons. Despite looking half frozen himself John still managed to ooze authority and power. His face however when he got closer to Dean was etched with lines of fear.

"Oh god, thankyou," he breathed roughly as he came closer in the darkness. "Are you boys ok?"

"Dad…" Dean gasped haltingly, and John's face fell as he noticed the tear tracks and his eyes swiftly fell to his youngest on the ground.

"Sammy…" John crouched down to assess his son, glancing up at his eldest. "Dean?"

"He stopped breathing Dad…he…he fell into the lake and I got him out as fast as I could but…god Dad he's too cold. He's really, really cold."

John's hand found Sam's neck, pushing Dean's hand roughly aside. "Jesus." He seemed to have trouble finding his voice.

Then to Dean's surprise he turned to the mouth of the cave, "I need help! I need help now!"

Like a scene out of some bizarre action movie red blobs began to emerge out of the white of the entrance as three, no four, people entered the tiny space.

Dean kept a firm grip on Sam, clutching his gloved hand tightly as John brought his ear to Sam's mouth.

"Mountain rescue son" one of the red uniformed medics got to their knees beside them. "Can you just move aside for me here while we have a look at your brother."

Dean stiffened, automatically rebelling against any advice to leave his brother's side.

"Dean" John said and Dean felt his heart sink at the broken way his father rasped his name, "we need to let them do their job kiddo."

"Dad?" Dean whispered back as his father hauled him gently to his feet. Another medic came towards Dean, assessing the shivering limbs and the blue tint to his own lips.

"Just hold tight there Dean is it? We'll get you warmed up real soon and they'll take good care of your brother."

"I don't care about me." Dean shot back shaking him off. "He wasn't breathing", voice ringing with despair Dean crouched again to the medic attending to Sam. "He wasn't breathing."

John pulled Dean back as more medics rushed to Sam's side and Dean couldn't pull his eyes from the trainwreck as one attached an oxygen mask to his brother's face and started pumping air into his lifeless lungs.

A foil blanket was placed around his shoulders and he felt his father unconsciously place an arm around his shoulders rubbing his arm vigorously.

"We need air response now. 15 year old male, no breath sounds, hypoxia, pulse sluggish, unresponsive, probable hypothermia. Kid fell in the lake."

Dean swallowed back another sob as they radioed for an air ambulance.

"Shit we're going to lose him, we need to warm him up stat!"

John's hand was like a vice as it tightened on Dean's shoulder in distress. "Do something…" his father stammered. "Don't let him go, please."

The medics paid him no mind as they carried on wrapping Sam in the foil and pumping him with air.

"He has this play you see." John whispered pathetically into the commotion around him, "he has this play."

In a way, he had wanted this, hadn't he? The three of them together. Sam away from the clutches of normalcy, firmly in their sights. So it stood to reason this was all his fault.

For his sins his baby boy was lying on a god damned backboard, not breathing. Oh god not breathing.

John struggled to break through the hazy screaming of his mind. Sam,sam,sam,sam,sam…

"How did he fall Dean?" He demanded gruffly. "How the hell did he fall in the lake. I told you boys to take the left ridge you shouldn't even have been anywhere near it."

His eldest raised redrimmed eyes, suddenly looking very small beneath the silver foil draped across his shoulders. "The compass…we couldn't read it through the snow Dad…we couldn't…I didn't…" He broke off, stepping closer as the paramedics hoisted Sam up and began their way towards the cave entrance.

John reined his emotions in. It wasn't Dean's fault. Of course it wasn't. There was only one person to blame for this.

His father.

He hadn't checked out the conditions or thought this hunt through enough, he'd been exhausted, tired from his earlier run in with the creature and desperate to keep Sam in line, and because of his short sightedness he'd nearly lost both of his boys. Could still lose his youngest.

God, that hour his boys were missing had been one of the most frightening of his life. He'd stumbled through the veritable blizzard back to the car and waited…and waited…and waited…

His boys didn't come stumbling across the park. They didn't return at all. And John Winchester had panicked. He'd full on freaking lost it. He may be willing to take risks with his own safety but never with his boys. Never.

It had taken him ten minutes to make it to the command post to notify the mountain rescue. And it had taken himself and two teams just less than forty minutes to find his boys.

Forty minutes too late…

Forty minutes which could spell death for his baby.

And another devastating blow for the Winchester family. One that didn't bear thinking about.

The helicopter struggled through the awful conditions and Dean barely heard the medic at his side shouting directions on landing into the walky talky in her hand. He did however hear the shouts when it made its descent.

"We only have room for one with your son John."

"I'm going." Dean screamed instantly. "I'm going."

John looked like he wanted to argue, like he couldn't bear to leave Sam, and Dean figured both were probably true but the fact was Sammy needed Dean, as much as he needed his father, he always needed Dean more. It was fact. And right now Dean wasn't above knocking his father out if it got him that space holding his brother's hand, so that Sammy knew he was with him all the god damned way.

"Dean…" John attempted, hair blowing unimpeded in the helicopter's strong backlash combined with the mountain winds.

"It's what Sam would want Dad and you know it."

Standing at the base of the rockies, watching his eldest taking a stand, strong and determinedly protective before him, John nodded once. Dean was right of course. Sammy loved Dean, had always loved him the most.

John did the only thing he could do. He let them both go.

Before he headed back to the Impala he walked briefly to Sam's side and took his son's gloved hand, turned up the edge ever so slightly and brought his lips to his bare wrist. "Keep fighting baby boy." He whispered through eyes blurred with tears. "Your mom'll watch out for you now."

Then he watched them load Sam into the chopper, watched Dean clamber in behind him, terrified and gripping tightly to Sam's hand. And then he watched the helicopter fly them both away from him.

They were ten minutes into the flight when Sam died.

Five minutes from Memorial Hospital.

His heart gave out with little warning, his bp bottomed out and a horrible flat beep filled the tiny helicopter.

Dean who had been muttering hushed desperate pleas to his brother and clinging to his hand since they'd took off was wrenched back as the two medics immediately sprang into action, pulling back the foil blankets and heat packs and reaching for paddles.

"BP's bottoming. Shit. We've lost a heartbeat."

"No." Dean shouted, hand reaching for Sam. "No Sammy."

"Charging…" The medic nearest to Dean announced, raising the paddles.


Sam's body jolted as the paddles shot electricity to his heart.

Dean felt sick and swallowed back the bile as he watched his little brother arching and flopping on the backboard like some limp fish his Dad'd caught on one of their rare trips.

No. No. No. His mind screamed, unable to form more than that. Sam was dying. Dying right in front of him and he should have been on stage, acting in some high school play, carrying them like Dean knew he could. God why hadn't he fought his Dad harder, why hadn't he taken Sam's side, why hadn't he noticed the groaning for what it had been, ice rapidly cracking on the frozen lake before him as his brother sank to his doom.

His own heart thudded cruelly even as Sam's failed to start and he felt his sanity alluding him once more.

When they finally managed to restart the youngest Winchester's heart Dean was so far gone he almost missed it. But somehow his hand found his brother's palm once more and he slipped his own into it, and he kept it there all the way to Memorial.

John Winchester was not a patient man at the best of times, at the worst he was scarier than any supernatural creature anyone had ever faced.

"I want to know about my son right now."

The blonde woman behind the desk gave a long suffering sigh. "Mr McGuillicutty…I can only repeat what you already know, as soon as the doctors are done with your son I'll direct them straight to you."

"You said the same god damned thing over an hour ago so forgive me if I have difficulty believing that."

The woman sniffed and sighed melodramatically before turning back to her computer, dismissing him.


Couldn't she see how desperate he was, how much he needed to hear something, anything. He was fucking terrified. Couldn't she see that?

He'd arrived at Memorial hospital an hour ago to find a silent and damn near catatonic Dean in one of the treatment rooms. He'd been wrapped in thermal blankets, and kitted out in scrubs and he'd looked so damned small it was all John could do not to hold him close.

Instead he'd opted for reaching a hand to his son's cheek. "Dean, how you doing? What have they said?"

Dean had looked passed him to the wall, staring almost unseeing.

"Dean?" John tried again. "How's Sammy?"

Dean looked to him then, dark eyes caught as if in a nightmare.

John froze suddenly more terrified than he'd ever been before. "Dean…"

"His heart stopped beating Dad." Dean finally whispered. "His heart stopped beating."

John would later swear his own did the same.


Dean was back to the wall again.


John gripped his sons shoulders and vigorously shook him. He was panicked beyond reason. Oh God let him be alright, please god I'll do anything, don't have taken him from me, don't take my baby.

"Dean!!!! Dean, please…"

The pause it took for his eldest to answer was the longest five seconds of John's life.

"He's alive. They got him back. They got him back Dad."

That had been almost an hour ago and since then there hadn't been a word. Not one word about his son. Dean and John remained in the hospital waiting room, Dean now sporting his father's parka over his scrubs. Both of them pacing angrily and distraught around the room.

It was impossibly small and entirely too confined for the pair of them, the sole other occupants, an elderly couple, kept glancing furtively towards them at every opportunity. Two glowering men, oozing danger and desperation.

Finally after an hour and twenty five minutes a doctor walked into the waiting room. "Sam McGuillicutty?"

Dean and John pounced.

"How is he?"

"Is he ok?"

The doctor tried to usher them to a seat but gave up when they folded their arms in a veritable wall of solidarity and remained standing.

"Sam was extremely hypothermic and hypoxic when they brought him in. They lost him mid flight and managed to get him back but his body temperature and bp were dangerously low…"

"We already know this crap" Dean spat out impatiently. "Just tell us he's alright now."

The doctor ran a hand across his balding forehead with a sigh. "Mr McGuillicutty…Dean…I'm not going to lie to you. Sam's condition is critical. We have him on iv's pumping him with warm fluids, he's on oxygen to keep his organs fuctioning correctly. Right now we're still very worried about arrhythmia and possible organ failure."

John and Dean visibly wilted.

The younger Winchester took a harried breath. "Doc just tell us straight, is Sammy going to make it?"

The doctor eyed Dean then John. "He's in a form of coma but we'd like to keep him in it to get his body warmed up before we try waking him, then we'll be able to assess how damaged he was by the cardiac arrest and lack of oxygen."

John raised a hand to cover his mouth filled with a sick horror. Dean did the opposite, as his father stilled completely Dean crumpled in on himself his legs giving out until he slumped into a chair.

The doctor immediately fought to reassure the two distraught looking men before him.

"Listen there have been remarkable recoveries after cardiac arrests in hypothermic patients, if anyone has a chance it's Sam, he's young, strong, he's fighting hard. And the low temperature of his body might actually have helped to prevent cellular damage when his blood flow and oxygen levels were lost."

John nodded silently. Grasping onto any hope like a liferaft. "Can we see him?"

"Yes, the nurses should have him settled by now I'll take you straight up to the ICU."

"Oh Sammy."

Sam was so small, so infinitely tiny in the large bed that Dean instinctively wanted to hold him. So that's exactly what he did.

He bent forward and wrapped his arms gently around his brother's shoulders, mindful of the oxygen and the IVs and squeezed his face into his brother's long hair.

"It's ok. It's alright kiddo. I'm here Sam. Your big brother's here now."

John watched in shock at Dean's display of affection, it was somewhat rare for his eldest to be so demonstrative but he couldn't deny it melted the last corner of his heart in an instant.

God he loved them. The pair of them were his life. Everything he had.

Edging forward feeling somewhat like an intruder. John reached a hand to Sam's bangs and pushed them back from his face.

Sam had a nasal canula running into his nose and his skin was still a milky white, but he wasn't blue anymore. He wasn't blue.

"Sammy. It's Dad kiddo." He smoothed a thumb across Sam's forehead, mindful of Dean who's head was now resting on his brother's chest. "How about you wake up for us hey? You've got "Our Town" Monday Sam. You don't want to sleep through it kiddo."

Sam remained unresponsive and John sank into a chair at his bedside, watching his boys.

It may have been his youngest who fell literally through the ice but it was definitely his eldest who was skating figuratively on thin ice now. Dean's mental state was hovering precariously and John feared bad news on Sam's front wouldn't just mean he lost one son, but both.

He watched Dean hum softly to Sam, lying against his chest, protective even then. He had just one thought as he joined his boys and drifted unwillingly into the oblivion of sleep. His kids were drowning and he wasn't sure he'd be able to save them this time.

Sam slept through the entire day on Saturday, and Dean and John grew more and more nervous. The doctors had decreased the Pentobarbital and he still wasn't showing signs of waking up.

His father and brother had taken to sleeping in chairs at his side. Neither had left the hospital and words like brain damage and unresponsiveness and hypothermic shock were becoming all to dangerously frequent and real.

It seemed only logical then that the first thing Sam recollected on waking up pressed to his big brother's sleeping side was their conversation in the cave.

"When you were a baby you used to sleep with your head practically on my shoulder." "You remember Sam?"

Sam did remember it was the first thing that came to mind when his eyelashes fluttered open on the Saturday night. He tilted his head slightly, confused as to where he was but the first face he saw was his brother's asleep beside him and he didn't care anymore. He just felt safe, and reassured and comforted. Dean was beside him, watching over him, and that was the kind of memory it was impossible to forget.

Wearily he let his gaze sweep the room and he found his father asleep hunched over on his feet. He managed a small smile at the big gruff John Winchester sleeping like a baby, mouth hanging open, days old stubble littering his chin.

He swallowed a moment thinking back on what happened. He remembered trekking forward, finding it impossible to see a foot in front of him, he remembered turning back to Dean, and then the plunge through the ice.

God it had hurt, the shock had been fucking tremendous and for a second Sam could have sworn his heart had stopped beating but then he'd woken to Dean cuddling him. Cuddling him? And if that hadn't been strange enough he'd been totally incapable of forming a lucid thought above fuck it's not possible to be this cold.

Till now. Sam's mouth felt like cotton wool and he felt heavy and fuzzy but he was alive and his family were here so he figured they'd all got off relatively lightly this time.

"Either of you girls want to wake up and entertain me?" He finally managed to rasp. "Jeez the things a guy has to do for some attention in this family."

"SAMMY!" Dean's head snapped upright so fast he almost gave himself whiplash. "Sam…" His mouth hung open like a fish and he seemed incapable of saying anything other than his name so Sam offered his big brother a way out. "That would be me yes, the guy you're snuggling."

John interrupted, hair standing on end, leaping to Sam's side. "Sam? How you feeling son?"

"Ok." The youngest answered honestly, "a little fuzzy, but I'm alright."

John nodded and Sam was alarmed to see the tears in his Dad's eyes. "Ok seriously guys you're freaking me out. Stop looking at me like that."

Dean reached forward and mussed Sam's hair. Finally getting over his muteness. "We thought we'd lost you for a while there jerk."

"You wish."

John and Dean shared a weighted glance. "No Sam." John answered swallowing a lump in his throat. "We really don't."

Sam rolled his eyes theatrically and announced with all the attitude and arrogance of a teenager. "Well ok then, if you're going to cry about it…"

It was dark, silence echoed all around, John Winchester was nervous, his eyes attempted to adjust to the darkness, his instincts on high alert. He knew the second he saw Sam he was going to want to take his baby boy and run, but he couldn't. Damn it. He couldn't. He had to trust Sam now, trust that the kid had everything under control, still he couldn't help edging slightly forward at the slightest sign he would be needed.

Next to him Dean leaned back, more relaxed but still anxious. He watched and waited, waited to see the boy he'd raised do him proud like he knew he would. He smiled gently at his father wriggling in the seat beside him and propped his feet up on the back of the chair infront earning him an outraged glare from the woman sitting there.

He didn't give a shit.

Tonight was about Sammy. And about the Winchesters as a family. And about Dean's kid brother acting the pants off every other snot nosed kid in this hall.

"Welcome ladies and gentlemen to Our Town" Sam Winchester announced as he stepped beneath the spotlight, "a play by Thornton Wilder, performed by Widefield High's Seniors…" He stepped into the middle of the stage and smiled at his family beneath his bangs, "welcome to the town of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire…"

The play commenced without a hitch but John and Dean found the other kids laughable in comparison to Sam, whos acting ability knew no bounds, sure they might have been a little biased but the kid was embarrassing the entire cast with his talent.

Dean had to stifle a snort when John loudly announced "that's my boy" to the stuffy woman next to him at the end of the second act. And John had to clip Dean over the head when the boy tried to play with his phone toward the end of act three.

But they both paid attention at the end when Sam stepped forward to deliver the final lines, their bright little spark, their hope, their fight, he was all of that to them.

And as for Sam, he beamed so hard he thought his face might split and just before the hall erupted into cheers and applause he offered a smile of gratitude to his family for being there, "So Emily finally perceived that the living understand little about death…" he announced loudly, "and even less about being alive."