Promises and Protection

Summary: It's a promise that Dean can't keep and that Sam can't fail at. AU for Playthings.

A/N: Well…so…mostly gratuitous limpness, but I always did think this ep had potential for story supported limpness so I said I'd do this one, since I knew the show wouldn't go this route. Beta'ed by geminigrl11, as per usual.

Disclaimer: I sometimes seem to have control of my own mind, but own it? Maybe not.

Sam had seen lots of people die, more than he wanted to remember, so he knew there were lots of ways to go.

Drowning was a new one, though, and he had to say, it really wasn't turning out to be his first choice.

He hadn't thought about it when he jumped. He just knew Tyler was drowning and he had to stop it.

Of course it had to be Maggie. Of course. Sam realized that as soon as Tyler was safe. And when Maggie had lost her intended victim, she turned on Sam instead, thrusting his head underwater with an overwhelming force.

The need for air kicked in immediately and he felt himself panicking.

Through the haze of water, he could clearly see Tyler moving, kicking, her head well above water.

She was okay. She would be okay.

He just had to keep Maggie's attention until Dean could get to Tyler, get her clear. Unfortunately, Maggie attention was focused on killing him.

Thrashing against the invisible grip, he realized that keeping Maggie occupied didn't seem to be much work on his part after all. He just had to stay conscious long enough...

But his vision was blurring and his lungs were exploding and he felt so cold.

Blinking upwards, he saw a flurry of blonde curls and a smile.

Dean needed to hurry up, faster, because if not, Dean would be too late.

Sam swallowed a mouthful of water.

Maybe he already was.


It was like a scene from a movie.

The door burst open in a shower of splinters and he and Susan rushed through.

The pool was nearly still now, Tyler was perched on the side, dripping and shaking.

And there was a dark mass floating a few feet in.

A dark, six-foot-four mass with crazy brown hair and a cast on one arm.


He was in the water before he thought about it. He didn't care if Maggie was still around or if anything else was there. He was going to save his brother.

Sam was heavy, even underwater, and dragging them both back to the lip was more time-consuming than Dean would have guessed. His heart was racing and his eyes were burning.

He didn't even remember how he got Sam out of the pool, but the next thing he knew, Sam was flat on his back and Dean was leaning over him, checking for a breath, for a pulse, anything.

Tyler was crying, trembling in her mother's arms.

And Sam was limp. He was limp and turning blue and limp.

Not moving. Still. Dead.


And for a brief, terrifying second, Dean didn't do anything.

"You have to kill me. Promise me."

He wouldn't have to kill Sam if Sam was already dead. It would be so easy, so heroic. Sam could die doing what he felt he needed to do, performing his real destiny. Saving people. The family business. It would make their father proud.


Something inside of Dean rebelled. He couldn't just let his brother die. He couldn't sit by and watch Sam's life just vanish before his eyes. Not now, not ever. His brother would not die on his watch. And he certainly wouldn't die by his hand.

Besides, Dean was a liar and a cheat, and proud of it. The only promise he'd ever really kept was the one he made when he was four years old, that he would always watch out for his brother.

That was one he could keep.

Pinching Sam's nose, he blew in two breaths, and watched for Sam's chest to rise and fall.

When nothing happened, he leaned over Sam's chest, bracing himself as he pushed hard against it.

It moved, up and down, rising and falling with Dean's pressure.

He breathed again for Sam, begging his brother to come back, to not leave him here all by himself.

Because he needed Sam.

He didn't care about the Demon's plan. He didn't care about his father's last words. He didn't care about Sam's doubts. Sam was his brother, and he needed him.

So why wasn't Sam waking up?

He was crying, tears running down his already wet face. Come on, Sam.

Bending over to give two more breaths, he was greeted with a mouth full of water that made him gag.

Then he noticed that Sam was gagging too, convulsing on the tile, trying to clear the water from his lungs.

Somehow Dean remembered how to move, and he found himself frantically turning Sam onto his side, so the water being forced up wouldn't slip back down.

Sam hacked and shook, water expelling violently out his mouth. Dean was there the entire time, hands strong on Sam's back, supporting him.

When the worst was over, he helped Sam onto his back, and pushed the wet hair out of his eyes.

"You're okay, Sammy," Dean said, his hand firmly on Sam's shoulder. "It's okay now."

Sam's eyes blinked and cleared, and he stared up at Dean. And even in the chaos of the paramedics arriving, of Susan's frantic voice, of Tyler's terrified eyes, the look of betrayal in Sam's eyes was undeniable.


The doctors had checked Sam over, and kept him overnight. Dean could see that Sam didn't want to stay, that he felt that doctors couldn't do anything for him anyway, but Dean begged him silently to acquiesce. One look into Dean's eyes, and Sam didn't protest.

Dean spent the night alone in the hotel. Susan treated him to anything he wanted to eat and drink, and he thought about getting himself plastered, but he was pretty sure that nothing good could come of that. He went to bed early instead.

He picked up Sam the next day, and received a litany of advice and warnings from the doctor that Sam did not seem remotely interested in.

They were quiet, moving about the room without speaking, then sitting apart from each other, their distance subtle but true. After lunch, Sam set about gathering his things and Dean finally broke the silence.

"What are you doing?"

"Packing," Sam replied and didn't elaborate.


"Yeah, like, to go," Sam added.

"Sam, come on, maybe we should just lay low for a bit--"

Sam turned to him, his eyes bright. "Why?"

Dean was taken aback. Sam was furious. "Dude, what's your problem?"

"My problem? Dean, you know what the problem is."

"No," Dean said, staring at him. "I don't. I saved your ass and you're pissed off?"

"That's the point, Dean," Sam answered. "I died, and you brought me back. After you promised me."

"Wait, I promised you?"

"Two nights ago. Right here. In this room. I asked you, and you promised."

Dean's heart sunk. "You remember that?"

Sam's anger was not slowed. "You promised, Dean," Sam said. "You promised me."

The tendrils of anger took root in Dean's stomach too. "I said I'd watch out for you, if you started acting all freaky or something."

"It could have ended right there. Easy."

Dean clenched his teeth. "Easy? Sam, you weren't supposed to die."

"Yeah, well maybe I'm supposed to be evil. Death would be better," Sam snapped.

"So I'm just supposed to let you die, is that it?" Dean countered, his frustration rising. "You're willing to save everyone else around you, but you're sure as hell not thinking about me here."

"I am thinking about you, Dean," Sam hissed. "I'm thinking about what I may do to you someday."

"And you really think I could deal with killing you?"

"It's better than watching me become something I'm not," Sam said, his voice breaking. He dropped his eyes down, and he trembled visibly. "I wouldn't ask you to do this unless I had to."

Dean's heart thumped painfully; he shook his head. "You're not evil, Sam, and you never will be."

They were words of encouragement and Sam held his gaze for a long time before he ripped his gaze away with a suppressed sob. His shoulders shook for a second, then stilled. A moment later, he looked up, composed. "I'm sorry," he said, his voice barely audible. "I just don't want to hurt you."

"You won't," Dean insisted, stepping forward.

Sam almost smiled, or tried to, but his eyes held a vast sadness.

"Sam, I know you," Dean tried again.

"You've always been there for me," Sam said. "And I know you'll always do whatever you can for me."

Dean felt the emptiness in his brother's words and reached a tentative hand, almost touching Sam's shoulder, before it fell back to his side. "You know I will, little brother."

The words invited more, a chick flick moment, a response. But Sam just smiled. "Let's get our stuff in the car," he said. "I think we should be out of here by nightfall."

Dean wanted to say more, wanted Sam to say more, but his brother turned, and shouldered his bag, heading toward the door. "I'll go ahead and check us out," he said without turning.

The door closed and Sam was gone and Dean was left feeling worse than before.


The afternoon was cool, and Sam felt a shiver move up his body the minute he stepped outside. He ignored it though, and moved slowly to the Impala.

Opening the trunk, he dumped his bag inside. Moving to the passenger door, he pried it open and slung his laptop in the backseat.

A wave of weariness overtook him, and he leaned hard against the car, closing his eyes and resting his head on his arms.

What was he going to do?

He had always trusted Dean to have his back. He had never doubted that his brother would do anything for him.

Maybe he was wrong.

Because Dean loved him too much.

He'd never seen it before, but he saw it now. Dean loved him more than anything else, more than right or wrong, good or evil, destiny or fate.

No, Dean couldn't save him by killing him. But Dean's love could keep Sam doing what was right. Because of all the people he wanted to save, Dean was at the top of the list.

He wasn't sure why the Demon hadn't taken Dean yet, why Dean had earned a reprieve when everyone else had died. But Sam would do everything in the world to protect Dean.

Even from himself.

He wasn't sure how he'd know when he'd gone too far. He wasn't sure how he'd keep himself from crossing that line. But he had to. For Dean. And if he couldn't stop himself...

Well, then he knew what he had to do.

Sam opened his eyes, turning so he looked up at the window. "If you can't do it," he whispered. "Then I will."