The first thing Dean sees when he charges into the pool room is Sam, and he's floating face-down near the surface of the water, tangled in blue plastic and not moving. For the first time in both their lives, Dean freezes. His footsteps are still echoing in the cavernous room, and water is rippling around Sam, but for the life of him Dean can't get his body to move. There are too many black spots obscuring his vision and all he can hear is Sam's voice in his head, begging him to kill him.
If turn evil, man, you've gotta kill me. Don't let me hurt anyone. I don't wanna hurt anyone. Promise me, Dean, please? Promise me.
He hears himself shout Sam's name, and suddenly Dean can move again. He spares a fleeting second to wonder how long he was standing there wasting time before his own body hits the water. For a second his lungs seize at the coldness of it – why the fuck can't they heat the fucking pool? He thinks – and then he's breaking the surface and swimming frantically for Sam.
It only takes him a few seconds to get close enough to grab onto the pool cover that is tangled around his brother, and he yanks on it with all his strength, dragging the plastic towards him and with it, Sam.
The piece of shit tears and gives as he pulls at it, and his struggles jar Sam's body, makes it look like he's trying help free himself. Dean can hear Susan shouting from the doorway, and pulls harder, faster, desperate to get Sam free. Sam's still not moving, and Dean is pretty certain he's not breathing, either.
His own chest burning with exertion, after what seems like an eternity Dean manages to untangle his Sam and reaches for his shirt, hauling him against his body and pulling his face out of the water. Sam's head flops limply against his neck, and when Dean glances down he can see Sam's lips are blue and his chest isn't moving.
"Oh, God." he manages to strangle out, trying to tilt Sam's head back to breathe for him. They're too far into the deep end, though, and both of them start to sink almost immediately at the awkward angle.
Cursing, Dean gives up and immediately turns and splashes through the water for the shallow end of the pool. As soon as his feet touch the bottom he goes for the edge and shoves Sam up onto the concrete deck, lets Susan help him pull his brother the rest of the way as he hauls himself out of the water.
He feels the now-familiar urge to freeze again as he sees Sam sprawled on the cement, limp and blue and totally unresponsive. It feels like someone is squeezing all the blood out of his heart and for a split-second Dean is the one who can't breathe.
"He – he's not breathing!" Susan shouts, panicked, her fingers pressed to Sam's neck.
"I know. Get back." Dean growls out, shoving her hands away. He presses his own shaking fingers against the side of Sam's neck; it's faint and straining, but there's a pulse beneath his fingers. Sending a quick prayer of thanks to nowhere, Dean quickly tilts Sam's head back, pinches his nose, and forces air into his lungs. He glances down to make sure the air is going in, and then repeats the action.
Two breaths, wait five seconds, two breaths, wait five seconds, two breaths . . . he keeps count of the repetitions and knows it's been almost a full minute. Jesus Christ, how long was Sam in the water before he found him?
It takes a minute and a half of breathing for Sam before Dean feels his brother tense beneath him and realizes there's water against his lips. Sam makes an odd little strangled noise, more water dribbling from his mouth, and Dean jerks back and rolls his brother onto his side just as Sam starts coughing.
Sam's having a bitch of a time catching his breath, choking as his lungs struggle to work again. He strains against Dean's knees, trying to roll backwards in his effort to get enough air. Dean forces him still by locking his body and pinning Sam's shoulder to the ground with one hand. He's seen someone almost drown before and knows what's coming, and uses his other hand to push Sam's head forward as he coughs, chokes, and then throws up a whole freaking gallon of water.
Sam coughs heavily, wheezing wetly, and Dean strokes his back. "It's okay, Sammy. I've got you, just cough it up, man."
Dean's never dealt well with vomit, but he's seen his brother puke enough times during the last twenty four hours that at this point his disgust is containable. Add to that the fact that the kid almost just died on him and Dean's willing to risk his hand by placing it under Sam's chin to help alleviate the strain as Sam gags and throws up more water, followed by whatever he ate for lunch and probably a little leftover tequila, too.
"I called 911." Susan volunteers from a few feet away, a cell phone in her hand, and Dean raises his head. He nods in acknowledgment, then turns his attention back to Sam. His chest is rising and falling in a ragged pattern, but he's breathing and Dean's pretty sure he isn't going to stop. It doesn't mean he's not going to keep watching Sam drag in air yet, though.
They stay like that for several minutes, Sam wheezing and coughing, Dean watching each inhalation and exhalation like a hawk, and Susan holding the cell phone. He's so intent on making sure Sam is still breathing that he jumps a little when Sam mumbles something and rolls his head to look at him. It takes Sam a few tries to speak, but Dean finally catches the word jerk, and grins.
"Hey, who's the wussy bitch that almost drowned?" he asks. It almost breaks his vocal chords to make a joke out of it, but he does anyway, and he can feel Sam relax against him.
"Better . . . not . . . give . . . me . . . weird . . .disease . . . jerk." Sam gasps out, coughing again and then gagging a little.
"You'd be lucky to catch some of my good looks, bitch." Dean retorts, pulling Sam against him so that he can partially sit upright. Sam has a goofy grin on his face, and slaps his hand tiredly against Dean's chest.
". . . .thanks . . ."
"Dude, don't mention it." Dean responds, raising Sam slightly higher when he coughs. He allows himself the luxury of sweeping Sam's wet bangs back from his forehead, watching as his brother's eyes drift shut. He can hear the distant wails of the ambulance, and Dean has to fight the urge to just drag the kid into his arms and never let go.
Promise me, Dean, please? Promise me.
He'd said yes at the time, but Dean knows it was just another lie he'd laid at his brother's feet, and his father's, too. Dean would never, ever be able to pull that trigger. Not from Heaven or earth or even Hell, and he has the sinking suspicion that one day they would both be damned for it.
"D-dean?" Sam coughs out, groaning and shifting against him.
"I'm here, Sammy. Just relax, dude – you'll be okay."
Lie number two thousand one, Dean thinks. But for this moment only, it's the truth.