Author's note: Just a little something that popped into my head after watching Shadow.. Hope you like it! Please feel free to review if you do -smiles nervously - it really does make my day:)

Dean couldn't remember a time he felt this tired. His entire body felt like he'd been run over by a semi, and he knew from the warm wetness dripping down his left side that the gash the Deavas had inflicted was still bleeding freely.

He shifted his head from side to side to try and ease the crick in his neck and was rewarded with a wave of dizziness for his trouble. Blinking quickly to try and regain his vision before he drove them off the road, he swallowed.

"We should stop at the next motel" he said quietly.

Sam actually jumped at the sound of Dean's voice. He'd been staring out the window, lost in thought, and neither of them had said a word since watching John drive away in his truck.

"Sure. Whatever" he said listlessly.

Dean's jaw clenched at the flat tone of Sam's voice but said nothing. He didn't have the energy to get into the inevitable discussion that was coming, since right now it was taking all his concentration not to pass out at the wheel.

Four of the longest miles in his life later, Dean finally spotted a motel up ahead. Thanking whichever God was responsible for giving them a break at last, Dean turned the Impala into the parking lot and gratefully switched off the throaty engine. He sat there for a few moments, trying to work up the energy to get out of the car.

The fact that they'd stopped moving finally registered with Sam and he turned to look at Dean. Seeing his brother sitting there not moving, his eyes closed, Sam frowned.

"Dean? You ok?" he said with concern.

Dean jumped a little and opened his eyes. "I'm fine Sam" he said, pulling himself together with monumental effort.

Sam wasn't convinced but didn't feel up to pursuing it right now. Pulling down the visor he looked at his reflection in the mirror and grimaced. His face was covered in blood, and Dean was no better. Looking like this they'd be lucky if the motel clerk didn't call the cops the minute they walked in.

"We can't go in looking like this" he said and Dean rolled his eyes.

"Ya think?" he said and opened the door, getting out with all the speed and grace of a 90 year old.

Biting back the groan as standing up pulled at the gash on his side, Dean went to the trunk of the car and opened it one handed. Reaching in to one of their bags he grabbed a flannel and a half empty bottle of water. Soaking the flannel he wiped it over his face, wincing as he pulled at the cuts there that now began to sting and throb in earnest. Soon he could see the cloth was dark with blood, even in the dim light from the trunk, but he at least looked a little more presentable.

Going round to the drivers side again he ducked his head to look in the wing mirror. The cuts were still obvious, but thankfully didn't look like they'd need stitches. And with all the blood gone he didn't look quite like an extra from the Living Dead anymore. It would just have to do for now.

Fixing his best charming expression on his face, Dean walked over to the motel office trying not to limp too much. Sam watched him as he went, noting the stiffness in Dean's gait and the absence of the usual swagger. He knew asking Dean outright how badly he was hurt was a waste of time, so he simply vowed to check him out properly when they were in the room – whether Dean liked it or not.

Of course that was assuming the clerk would rent a room to them with Dean looking the way he did.

Whatever pain he might be in right now, clearly the Dean Winchester charm was still working as a few minutes later he returned with a room key and a tired smirk for Sam as his brother got out of the car. Shaking his head and not even bothering to ask what tale Dean had spun to get them the room, Sam opened the trunk and grabbed both bags.

He was both surprised and a little concerned when Dean didn't even question him carrying both bags, and he stuck close to his brother as they walked across to the room.

Dean opened the door and flicked the light switch as they went in. As rooms went they'd stayed in worse and it seemed clean and comfortable at least. Although given the way both of them felt right now, they'd have been happy with anything.

"I'm gonna hit the shower first" said Dean, reaching out and grabbing his bag from Sam.

Before Sam could even reply Dean was gone, the bathroom door shutting firmly behind him. Sam frowned. He'd really wanted to take a look at how badly Dean had been hurt but as usual Dean had deflected him before he'd even had a chance. Sighing, Sam sat down on one of the beds with a groan and put on the TV for wont of something better to do.

Dean sat on the edge of the bath with his head in his hands. His head really was spinning now and he was starting to wonder just how much blood he'd actually lost. He just hoped there wasn't too much of it on the seat of the Impala – blood was a bitch to get out of the leather, he knew from experience. Speaking of leather.. Sitting up he managed to shrug off his jacket, biting his lip to keep from crying out as his side protested the movement. Holding it up in front of him he saw that the lining on the left side was dark with blood.

"Crap" he muttered, knowing that was gonna be tough to get out. Getting up from the side of the tub, he put a hand out to steady himself on the wall as the room tilted alarmingly. When he was certain he wasn't going to take a header and end up sprawled on the bathroom floor, he hung the jacket up and turned his attention to his shirt and t-shirt.

Facing the bathroom mirror, he grimaced at the sight that greeted him. The entire side of his shirt was soaked with blood and when he took it off, his t-shirt was even worse.

"Great" he muttered under his breath. Despite not exactly having an extensive wardrobe, he knew both of them were a lost cause between the blood stains and the claw-marks so he balled them together and threw them in the corner of the room. He'd get rid of them when Sam wasn't looking.

Now bare chested, he twisted slightly to get a good look at the gash. Swallowing the bile that rose in his throat, he wished he hadn't. It was about half an inch across and ran from just above his hip to the middle of his chest, stretching the full length of his left side. He prodded the gash and winced. It looked like it needed stitches but there was no way he was going to the hospital and equally no way he was gonna let Sam see it. His brother was already on edge enough from the night's events without getting him worked up over this. And besides, if Sam knew Dean had been hurt this badly then he'd never go along with what Dean had planned. And he had to. There was no other choice.

Pushing aside thoughts of the impending pain from what he was going to do, and not the physical kind, Dean reached over and started the shower going. Stripping off the rest of his clothes, he stepped gingerly under the water. The gash stung like someone had just rubbed salt in there and Dean clenched his fist against the tiles.

"Son of a bitch!" he exclaimed as quietly as possible, closing his eyes briefly against the pain.

When the stinging had receded to a dull throb, Dean quickly washed himself and stepping out of the tub grabbed one of the towels from the rail. He was so light-headed now that he had to sit down again as he dried himself and he hoped he wouldn't pass out. That was all he needed, Sam rushing in to find him a heap on the floor.

Shivering despite the heat of the room, he quickly pulled on underwear and jeans from the bag, and grabbed the first aid kit. He smothered his side with antiseptic cream, noticing that it had at least stopped bleeding quite so heavily, and then with some difficulty managed to place some gauze over the wound and wrap the whole thing with a bandage. Tying off the end, he sat there for a moment to get his breath back, wiping away the beads of sweat that had sprung up on his forehead with the back of his hand. He pulled a clean t-shirt over his head and glancing in the mirror was satisfied that the bandage didn't show through.

Fixing a neutral expression on his face he opened the door and stepped out in a cloud of steam.

Sam glanced up as he heard the door open. It had taken all his willpower not to check on his brother while he was in there. He had a feeling there was something Dean was hiding from him and a bad feeling had settled in the pit of his stomach.

He frowned as he saw how pale Dean was, even though he looked better now he wasn't covered in blood.

Dean glanced at him as he chucked his bag in the corner of the room and sat down on the other bed, with more care than he would normally.

"All yours Sammy. Unless you're trying out a new look?" he said dryly.

"Dean.." began Sam but Dean cut him off.

"You'd better get in there before all the hot water goes, Sam" he said firmly.

Sam sighed, but couldn't deny he did want to get rid of the dried blood and God know s what else that he was covered in right now.

Throwing the remote onto Dean's bed next to him, Sam grabbed his bag and went into the bathroom.

Dean let out a sigh of relief and leant his head back against the headboard, closing his eyes. He'd thought for a moment that Sam was going to argue with him, but thankfully for once he'd given in without a fight. Dean's stomach churned with what he was about to do, but he knew it was the right thing. For Sam and for himself.

Hoping that for once Sam wouldn't break the habit of a lifetime and be out of the bathroom in less than 30 minutes minimum, Dean pushed himself off the bed and went over to where their laptop sat on the table.

10 minutes later he was done. He wasn't really good at words, either in person or on screen as it were, but he hoped what he'd typed was enough to get Sam to agree to the plan. It had to be – as far as Dean could see there was no other option.

Dean managed to put his shoes on with monumental effort and slipped his jacket back on, not caring that the lining was still blood soaked. He needed the warmth right now – he felt so cold and it wasn't just from the bloodloss. Taking out his wallet he pulled a handful of bills from it and placed them next to the laptop, along with one of the many credit cards he carried.

Picking up his bag, but making sure first that he took out the first aid kit and left it for Sam, Dean walked over to the door. As he put his hand on the doorknob his gaze wandered back to the bathroom door. He could still hear the shower running and he wished for a moment that he could just say goodbye to Sam properly. But he knew that would only make things harder. Hardening his resolve and swallowing the lump in his throat, Dean opened the door and, closing it quietly behind him, he walked away from the room and from his brother.