A/N: This is my take on what happens after 2x14, Born Under a Bad Sign ends. Obviously, there are spoilers. Features angst for those who found it lacking in tonight's episode. Sorry, this hasn't been betaed. I just sat down and cranked it out after the ep, so all mistakes are mine.

Disclaimer: Nope, still don't own anything Winchestery.

Dean's asleep.

Sam rubs his fingers over the burn on his arm. In the darkness it feels rough beneath his touch. Like the topography of regret.

He managed to smile at Dean and laugh at his jokes, but now, in the heavy silence of the room, it's all coming back.

The knife to the hunter's throat. The blood on his hands.

The feel of Jo's head smash against the bar.

The weight of the gun in his hand when he pulls the trigger.

Sam sucks in a ragged breath. The charms from Bobby swing against his t-shirt. There's a flash of silver in the moonlight and he sees the knife brush against Jo's hair.

Oh god. He can't do this. He can't be like this. He doesn't want these memories.

He looks over at Dean and his eyes burn. He almost killed him. He almost killed Dean. It doesn't matter that he was possessed. He was aware for some of it. He should have tried to stop it.

Sam presses knuckles to his mouth, forces jagged laughter back down. Dean thinks he can save him? Why should he be saved? He should have been more careful. More vigilant against possession. Because this demon? It's just training wheels for what's coming.

His whole life Dean has been there for him. Protected him. Shielded him. Saved him. But now Dean is the one who needs protection. Not from a ghost or a monster, from him. It's not about Dean saving Sam anymore. It's about Sam saving Dean.

Sam slips out of bed, silent and determined. The gun is on the table. Waiting for him. He picks it up with his right hand. With his left he scrubs at his face. He doesn't have time for fear. He has to save Dean. He has to do it now, before he backs down, loses his nerve.

He has to atone.

Sam seats himself on the edge of the tub. He looks down at the gun in his hand. His knuckles are still raw (from where he hit Dean. He hit Dean.) He doesn't want to die. But if the past week is any indication of what's in store for him, he wants to live even less. He knows the demon tried to make him kill Dean. It almost succeeded. Sam closes his eyes against the memory, but it won't go. He hangs on, hungry and desperate. He wants to scrub his mind with bleach.

Sam's still holding the gun when the bathroom door opens.

Dean squints at him in the sudden brightness. His eyes flick from the gun to Sam's face, back to the gun. "Something you want to tell me, Sam?" he asks.

Sam sighs heavily. Shrugs. He knows he should feel ashamed that Dean's caught him red-handed (red-handed, get it? Get it? There's so much blood, it's still on his hands, he'll never get it off) but he's too tired. When the demon left, the fight in him went with it. "You're the best brother a guy could have," he croaks out.

Dean glares. "That's not what I'm talking about and you know it." He reaches for the gun but Sam slides sideways, out of Dean's reach.

Sam's face is flushed, his hands tremble. It's for the best. He's saving Dean. A life for a life.

Dean's eyes bore into the side of Sam's head. "I'm sick of this shit," he hisses. "First the demon wants to play Russian roulette and now you?"

Sam refuses to look at Dean. If he does, he might back down. And he can't afford to. He shakes his head. "Dean. It's too late. I know you want to save me. I know you think you can save me, but you can't." His stares blankly at the wall, a pained smile on his face. "I wish you could, Dean, but you just can't."

"Why?" Dean seethes. "Because you decided? He have a vision that I couldn't save you and forget to tell me? Because you have no freakin' idea one way or the other. You're just scared," Dean says, his tone accusatory. "And I get that. I'm scared too. I'm sort of freaking out, you know?" Dean's lip curves into a half smile. "And I don't want to freak out on my own here, Sammy."

Sam rubs his thumb along the grip of the gun. "I am scared," he admits, adam's apple bobbing. "But I'm not scared for me." He finally turns to Dean and his wide green eyes are haunted. His forehead crinkles and he leans forward, trying to convey as much meaning as possible into his words. "I'm scared for you." His voice hitches and he smiles, looks up at the ceiling for guidance. There is none. "I'm scared what I could do to you."


Sam looks stricken. "No. I shot you, Dean."

Dean waves his arms, furious. "That wasn't you!"

"But maybe it will be next time! I tried to shoot you at the Asylum. And yesterday, I did shoot you. God, Dean, I can't risk another time. I can't…" Sam trails off, runs his free hand through his hair. "Dean…if I killed you…I-I wouldn't want to live anyway."

Dean walks over to the toilet and sits down on the lid. "That's all fine and good Sam. Let's say I let you blow yourself away. Then what? What am I supposed to do?" His voice is calm but his eyes are bright, his face defiant. It's taking all his energy to stay keep control. He wants to rip the gun out of Sam's hand. He wants to punch him for even considering killing himself. He wants to hold onto Sam and never let him go.

Sam tilts his head at Dean. "Be safe," he says to his brother. "You're supposed to be safe."

Dean taps two fingers against his thigh. He sighs. Then he reaches out, snags the gun from Sam's hand and tosses it out the bathroom door. It skids across the floor and vanishes beneath Dean's bed.

Sam stares at the bed, then at Dean. His voice is a reproach. "Dean."

"Don't Dean me," Dean grits, standing. There's not a lot of room in the bathroom and it's one of the few times he has a height advantage on Sam. "I don't want you to die, Sam. Don't you get it? I'm not gonna kill you. And I'm not gonna let you kill you. So you're going to have to suck it up and live." He clears his throat and blinks, tries to smile. "At least for a while longer. I mean, jeez, Sam, give us a chance to find out what's going on."

Sam shakes his head, tight-lipped. "No. It's not safe. I could—"

"Dude, it's safe enough. You aren't just going to turn into some crazy demon-loving soldier overnight. Even now, with the possession, there were signs."

Sam glares. "Yeah. Like the fact that I shot you. That's hard to miss."

Dean glares right back. "Like the fact you disappeared. When I found you I should have tried the holy water right away." He rubs a hand over his jaw, frowns. "That's my fault. I should have guessed right after we watched the tape."

Now Sam stands and looms over Dean, pushes him back against the wall. "None of this is your fault, Dean," he rasps. "Not. One. Thing. You didn't know. It's not your fault."

Dean regards Sam coolly. "Then why is it your fault?"

Sam grabs the collar of Dean's shirt, desperate. "Because I was the one possessed! I knew what was happening! I knew and I couldn't stop it. At least Dad…at least Dad tried to stop…" His voice breaks and he can't go on. He drops his head forward onto Dean's shoulder.

Dean relaxes, puts a hand on Sam's back. "I can't imagine what you feel like right now." His voice is soft. "I can't stop you from feeling guilty or whatever. But you don't deserve to," he says. "Remember, before I told you what Dad said? You said I didn't have to carry the load on my own. Well neither do you. If we both carry part of it, we can get through anything, Sam. Even this."

Sam rolls his head back and forth. No. But he doesn't pull away.

"I'll protect you with my dying breath," Dean promises, his voice low in Sam's ear. "And I know you want to do the same for me, little brother. I totally get it. And I'm thankful. So how about we both stick around a little longer and see how it goes?"

Sam lifts his head and his eyes are red. He looks broken. "I don't know if I can."

Dean puts a hand on each of Sam's shoulders. "You keep telling me you want to save me," Dean says. "If you really want to save me, you'll stay with me." He tries a smile. "You know how pissed I get when you run off on me."

Sam ducks his head, nods once. "I'm…I'm sorry Dean. I'm sorry I hurt you."

Dean leans closer, their faces inches apart. "You don't have to be sorry for what you did when the demon was in you." He cocks his head toward the tub. "But what you were thinking about doing in here? You should be sorry for that."

Sam swallows. Nods again. His voice is a whisper. "Okay."

Dean cups the back of Sam's head. "Now get out of here. I have to take a leak."

Sam shuffles out the door, shuts it behind him.

On one side of the door Sam takes a shallow breath. He'll try to fight against what's coming for Dean's sake. Because Dean asked him. All he can do is try. He closes his eyes and whispers a prayer. Please God.

Give me strength, Dean thinks on the other side of the door. He rests his head against the cheap wood. He doesn't let himself think about what might have happened if he hadn't woke up. He does his business and finds Sam sitting on the edge of his bed. "You okay?" he asks.

Sam smiles. It's one of his new I'm broken inside smiles that Dean hates. "Sure."

"Yeah right," Dean says. He slaps Sam's leg. "I know what will cheer you up." He reaches for the remote. "I think your favorite show is on."

Sam sighs heavily. "Dean. I don't want to watch TV."

"Of course you do," Dean admonishes. "You're an American. It's what we do."

He clicks the TV on and flips through the channels until familiar music plays. Sam cringes. "Come on, Dean. I don't want to watch this."

Dean grins. "Dude. It's Benny Hill. What's not to love?" He points toward the headboard. "Move it."

Resigned, Sam scoots himself against the headboard and Dean joins him. "I thought you didn't want me to kill myself," Sam complains. "This just makes me want to find the gun."

"That's because you're a big snob," Dean explains. "Who needs plots and shit when you've got babes running around in skimpy outfits?"

Sam rolls his eyes, but his mouth twitches into a faint smile. "I'm not a snob just because I have taste," Sam says.

"You have taste, all right," Dean agrees. He grins. "For stupid-ass stuff."

Sam's eyebrows flit into his hair. "Stupid-ass? Like what?"

They sit together, long after Benny Hill is over, making fun of each other. Talking. It's not the words they say that matter, as much as what the words represent.

I'm not going anywhere.

You better not.

We can do this, Sam.

I hope you're right.

Dude, I'm always right.