Sitting in the dark of the motel room, Sam contemplated solitude. The occasional light from passing cars illuminated the room for a few brief seconds, allowing him a quick glimpse of his brother's face as he lay there sleeping. Sam sat at the table, just watching, thinking.

He was about to lose everything. He had never known a real home. A lifetime spent being dragged from town to town, motel to motel across the country meant that the only home he had ever know was wherever his family happened to be at the time. His dad, his brother, and for a time Jess, they were home. And they were being taken from him, one by one.

Another car's headlights flashed through the room. Dean looked completely still, washed out by the white light he looked almost dead. Sam closed his eyes against the image and tried not to imagine how Dean had felt that night as he had held on to his brother's lifeless body and wept, kneeling in the dirt. He tried not to imagine how he himself would feel less than a year from now, when he is the one that is left alone.

There were times when he wanted to kill Dean for what he had done. Not literally, of course, because that would only hasten the inevitable, but he wanted to scream and shout, to punch him until he bled, to cry, to hold him and be held back, just because if they didn't find a way out soon, he wouldn't be able to do it ever again. For the first time, he truly understood how Dean had felt after their father died, and he hated it.

Dean stirred in his sleep and turned over, and Sam felt another stab of grief, unable to assuage the guilt. His fault. Dean was going to die and it was Sam's fault. For not killing Jake when he had the chance, for not reacting quickly enough. For dying and leaving Dean alone.

Alone. It was something he had always thought about from time to time. As he and Dean grew older and their father began to allow his oldest son to accompany him on hunts Sam had stayed behind, watching out of the window, terrified that they wouldn't come home. In his worst nightmares had seen himself, again and again, alone in the world, his family, his home, gone. But he knew that that didn't compare to the kind of pain Dean must have felt when it actually happened.

So he understood why his brother had done what he did. Not for Sam, for himself. It was a purely selfish act, designed to ensure that the hurt would go away. He planned for a year with Sam, lying to him every step of the way, and then to go off and die somewhere leaving his little brother to deal with the pain. Sam's punishment. For leaving Dean, he himself would be left behind. And he just didn't know what to do.

As the tears began to fall, he didn't even bother to wipe them away. They ran silently down his cheeks as he looked at his brothers sleeping form and saw instead the corpse he was about to become.

As though sensing his brother's quiet grief, Dean opened his eyes and watched. The darkness was too thick to see the pain in his eyes, but Dean knew it was there. For a moment he considered saying nothing, feigning sleep, but as he closed his eyes again Sam's breathing became louder, filling up the room with sorrow and fear.

Dean bit his lip, hard, and prayed for help to a God he didn't believe in, before climbing out of the warmth of his bed and walking barefoot across the room to Sam, who was either too lost in his grief to notice, or to react. He touched him on the shoulder and bent down to whisper in his ear, "Its okay Sammy. We'll find a way out of this. You and me, it's what we do, right?" Sam drew a shaking breath and nodded.

Dean squeezed his brother's shoulder encouragingly, smiled as realistically as he could mange and lied through his teeth, "You didn't really think I was going to leave you all alone, did you? I'm not going to abandon you, we'll think of something."

As accomplished a liar as Dean was, he hadn't been able to get anything past Sam since they were children, but in the comforting darkness of the room, his brother standing in front of him, pleading to be believed, for a moment Sam allowed himself to be taken in by the lie. For one perfect moment he allowed himself to believe that everything would be okay. He watched the tension drain out of Dean's face too as he drew him in to a crushing embrace and held on as though his life depended on it.

And then it was over. The moment passed and the realization struck Sam once again.

He was about to lose everything.