Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or the characters …

Shared Burdens

Chapter 1

God, his brother was a jackass; Sam fumed silently, staring out of the Impala's side window. A regular beat thumped out of the front speakers, and Sam contemplated slamming his fist through the cassette player. Dean had crappy taste in music, and he really wasn't in the mood for it right now.

Sparing his brother a sideways glance, he contemplated instead landing a fist straight at his brother's face. Maybe if Dean wasn't driving…he deliberated, quickly discarding the wayward thought.

Taking a deep breath, he willed his tired body to relax, as best he could in the cramped interior of the car. It was nearly 5 o'clock in the afternoon, and they'd been on the road all day. Dean was eagerly herding them across state, heading for their next gig. Except for a very short stop to grab a sandwich for lunch, take a leak, and gas the car, Dean hadn't allowed them to take a break in the journey. This frantic rush from job to job had been going on for a few weeks now, and Sam had had enough.

Dean seemed so focused on keeping them busy, on fighting all the evil in the world, that he'd blocked all other sane reason from his mind. They needed a rest. Just a few days to restock their supplies and take a breather. A few days to overcome the exhaustion and allow their bodies to heal. Sam was bone weary.

He's tried raising the topic with his brother. Suggested they stay in the last motel for a couple more nights before moving on. Dean had looked at him with stark disapproval, reminding him so profoundly at that moment of their father. He was just being selfish, Dean said, packing their belongings. There were people out there who needed their help, he said. It's what Dad would have wanted, he told Sam, dutifully reminding him of their family responsibility.

Sam knew that Dean needed to keep busy to stop himself from dwelling on a recent unsuccessful hunt. Yeah, they'd killed the spirit with little difficulty, but hadn't been unable to save the child. The girl's image had haunted Dean since, and he was obviously trying to fill his every waking moment with activity to block his supposed failure from his mind.

Sam had tried talking to Dean after that hunt. Dean had accused him of being all "chick-flick" and had brushed his concerns aside. Sam told him that it wasn't their fault, that they'd done everything they could, and that sometimes they just couldn't save everyone, but Dean didn't listen, even though Sam felt that he was repeating Dean's own words that he's used on Sam many times before, back at him. When their roles were reversed, it seemed that Dean was no more likely to listen to Sam than Sam was to listen to Dean.

At first, Sam had been happy to jump straight to the next hunt, hoping that with something new to focus on, Dean would forget about their failure, but that had been a couple of weeks ago now, and his stamina was fast coming to an end. Sam was exhausted. Their last hunt had been physically challenging, both having more than a few bruises to show for it. Dean had gotten off comparatively light compared to Sam, but then, Sam hadn't told Dean exactly how many injuries he'd sustained.

He shifted again, trying to find a comfortable position while hiding his grimace of pain. His body ached in so many places, and the throb in his head was escalated to full blown pounding. He hoped that they'd be stopping soon; the thought of a hot shower or long soak in the tub a yearning he didn't want to suppress.

Bunkering down and resting his head on the back of the seat, Sam resigned himself to the fact that they wouldn't be stopping until Dean decided to.


Sam was woken from a restless doze when the Impala came to a stop outside a modest motel and the driver's side door slammed shut. Wincing, Sam noted with gratefulness the flashing vacancy sign and Dean striding into the front office. Glancing at his watch, he noted with surprise that he'd dozed for nearly an hour and it was already going on for nearly 6pm. Not a particularly late time to stop, but when you'd been on the road for nearly 12 hours, it felt like an eternity.

No longer under Dean's watch, Sam took a moment to properly move his body, not having to worry about having to hide the pain that every small shift in position caused. With all the time in the car today, he hadn't had the opportunity to take anything to dull the pain. Dean was too observant for him to have fished anything out of the first aid kit, and they hadn't stopped for long enough for him to slip away and purchase some more pills.

Seeing Dean striding purposely back to the car, room key dangling from his fingers, Sam quickly composed himself, masking all signs of pain.

"Room 112." Dean said, showing Sam the room key, before moving to unlock the trunk.

Sam slowly got out of the car, joining Dean at the trunk to retrieve his bag.

Lifting his bag onto his shoulder, Sam had to bite his lip to hold back a moan of pain. His bag felt like it was filled with bricks, and carrying the weight caused his bruised chest and abdomen to throb in agony. Anxiously blinking back all signs of distress, he clenched his teeth as he followed Dean into the room.

Sam didn't care how crappy the motel room was. Wasn't interested in the décor. Didn't care if it there was cable. Hell, didn't even care if there was no internet access. It had a bed, and that was all that mattered.

Gratefully, Sam dropped his bag on the floor near the far bed, and eased his aching body down. Laying his head back on the pillow, he wasn't sure if he'd be able to move again that night. He really wanted a hot shower or bath, but the effort to get there suddenly seemed just too great. No, he was happy enough to just stay put, at least until Dean dragged him away.

"Hey Sam, get your arse up. I'm starving." Dean announced, as if it was the most important thing in the world.

"How about we just order in some pizza?" Sam suggested hopefully, really not keen to venture out so soon after they'd arrived.

"You're kidding right. I've been driving all day whilst you've been napping. Is it too much to ask that we go out for a couple of hours and grab a bite to eat and a couple of beers?" Dean asked derisively.

Sam swallowed. He was reluctant to incur any more of Dean's wrath, but was at a loss with how to deal with the situation. He had to acknowledge though, that there was no way he was in any fit condition to venture out tonight. He'd resolutely held himself together throughout the day, but the effort had taken its toll. He was too exhausted and in too much pain to keep up the pretence while having dinner and throwing back a few beers.

"I'm really tired Dean…" he started.

"Yeah, well grandma, I guess I'll just have to go by myself then." Dean tossed at him, no humour evident in his voice.

Sam watched as Dean pulled on his jacket and picked up the keys before making for the door. "Back in a couple of hours …don't wait up" Dean tossed over his shoulder on his way out the door.

Sam stared at the door after Dean departed. That went well, he thought, wishing that his brother would stop shutting him out. He wondered for a moment if he'd unknowingly done something more to piss Dean off, but discarded the thought when the contemplation just made his headache worse.

A short while later, Sam resignedly pushed himself from the bed; keen to take a hot shower and grab some pain meds before going to sleep.

Looking around the room, Sam was disappointed to note that they'd left the first aid kit in the car. Of course, as far as Dean knew, they had no need for it in the room at the moment. As Dean had taken the car, Sam knew he'd have to go for a walk to the nearest drug store if he wanted anything; that is if there was even a drug store open in the evening around the motel. Sam realized that he had no idea of the name of the town in which they were in, let alone what stores or facilities were around. He resigned himself to going without, unable to face the task of walking even a block in his weary state.

He was pleasantly surprised to find the bathroom reasonably spacious and clean. Leaning oven to fill the bath, he had to clutch his stomach when a sharp pain torn through his abdomen. Massaging the very tender area in an attempt to ease the pain, he grimaced in noticing the vivid bruises and welts that criss-crossed his abdomen and chest. He'd taken a spectacular fall down a flight of stairs and into a wall during their last job.

Eager to sink his body into the warm bath, Sam diligently stripped off his clothes, taking care not to aggravate any of his injuries. Moving to the toilet, Sam went to take a quick leak before getting into the bath. Mindlessly taking care of the mundane task, Sam felt a moment of panic when he noticed the tinge of blood in his urine.


Sam lay in the bath, appreciating the tension that eased from his aching muscles with the swirling warm water. Running his hands through the water and over his body, he pressed around his abdominal area, trying to identify if he had some underlying trauma. He wasn't quite ready yet to admit to himself, how much the blood in his urine had scared him. Pressing on the bruises caused him pain, and he sadly acknowledged that with the number of bruises he had, it hurt everywhere that he pressed.

The water eventually cooled and Sam reluctantly got out of the bath. He'd been in there nearly an hour and felt a lot better after the long soak. The throbbing ache in his head had eased and the warm water had relieved some of the stiffness from his overworked muscles.

Sam toweled himself dry, lightly patting over his bruises and scrapes. He quickly prepared himself for bed, acknowledging that he really couldn't be bothered with the effort of getting himself any dinner. Slipping gently under the covers, he belatedly accepted that maybe Dean was right; he was a grandma. It was only 7.30pm and he was tucked up in bed.


Sam was rudely awoken a couple of hours later by Dean's noisily return to the room. Dean made no effort to be quiet; slamming shut the door and tossing the keys towards the table with a loud clang. Then the lights flickered on, causing Sam to blink rapidly under the fluorescent glare.

"Dean" he mumbled.

"Hey Sammy. I'm back." Dean stated the obvious, unconcerned with having disturbed a sleeping Sam.

Sam wanted to roll over onto his stomach and bury his head under the pillow, but his bruises and tender abdomen wouldn't cooperate. Instead, he was forced to lay there, the harsh light piercing through his head. Sam watched as Dean rummaged through his clothes, pulling out some clean sweats before disappearing into the bathroom. He hadn't bothered to switch off the light before leaving the room.

Sam contemplated getting up to turn off the light, or just lying there, waiting for Dean to return. He hoped Dean wouldn't be long because he couldn't be bothered getting up. Instead, he pulled a pillow over is head and thought of different ways he could kill his brother.

Dean eventually finished showering and came back into the room. Sam was relieved when the lights were finally switched off. He'd actually been in a deep sleep when Dean had returned, and now he was wide awake, once again conscious of his aching body. All benefits of the warm bath had now passed, and Sam knew it would take him a lot longer to get to sleep this time round.


Dean couldn't believe that Sam was asleep in bed when he'd returned to the motel room. What was wrong with the kid, he thought, it wasn't even 10pm yet. He was angry enough that Sam had brushed off coming out with him tonight, but to make matters worse, Sam obviously hadn't even bothered doing any more research for their next job. The laptop was still packed in Sam's leather satchel, and there were no books or notes spread out on the table.

Dean pulled back the covers on his bed and lay down before leaning across to the bedside table and grabbing the TV remote. Switching on the TV, he commenced flicking through the channels, looking for something interesting to watch. He didn't bother keeping the volume low.


Sam knew that Dean was pissed off at him; it's not like he had difficultly picking up the signals. Dean's non verbal communication was excellent. The constant bad mood was really wearing thin though, and Sam didn't know how much longer they could go on before one of them snapped. Every thing he did seemed to grate on Dean's nerves, and he wondered if maybe they needed a little time apart.

He tried to ignore the repetitive channel flicking; one of his pet hates. Dean knew it annoyed him, which he was sure was exactly why he was doing it now. He clenched his teeth, determined not to say anything; determined not to annoy Dean further.

Dean fell asleep about 20 minutes later, with the TV still on. The remote fell from his lax hand onto the floor beside the bed. The noise from the TV was quickly interposed with Dean's rhythmic snoring.

Sam considered throwing a pillow at Dean, but knew it wouldn't achieve his desired result. Dean would probably just wake up, turn up the TV volume, and go back to sleep.

Begrudgingly, Sam slowly got out of bed. He was fully awake now anyway, and didn't foresee getting back to sleep in the near future, if at all. Moving silently over to the TV, he switched it off at the main power switch. He went over to that table and carefully picked up the keys to the Impala and to the motel room. Considerately, his movements were quiet and he didn't wake Dean up.

Slipping out of the room without a sound, Sam made his way over to the Impala, parked a short distance away in the car park. Opening the trunk, he promptly located the first aid kit and shifted through its contents until he found the small bottle of painkillers. Slipping the bottle into his pocket, he returned to the room.

Dean was still snoring when he got back, and it took all of his self control not to throw something at his brother; not to wake him as he had so rudely done to Sam. Instead, resisting the urge, he moved silently into the bathroom, before closing the door and switching on the light. Desperate to ease some of his pain, he eagerly opened the bottle of painkillers, swallowing two with a handful of water. The last two. Now, they were officially out of painkillers.

Putting the empty bottle back in his pocket, he slumped to the ground, waiting in anticipation for the pills to have the desired effect. Tiredly he rubbed his eyes, knowing that for him at least, it was going to be a long night.


Dean woke up just as the sun was rising in the sky. Stretching, he looked across at his still sleeping brother, twisted under the motel's sheets in the adjacent bed.

Dean lay there a few minutes, enjoying those few moments when the bed is still warm, and there's no hurry to move. Another stretch and he got out of bed, quickly pulling on a pair of jeans and a shirt. Sitting down, he pulled on his boots before grabbing his wallet, keys and phone, and leaving the room. He needed coffee.

Returning to the room 10 minutes later, 2 large cups of coffee and a bag of donuts in hand, Dean was surprised to find Sam still fast asleep. Putting the coffee and donuts down on the table, he kicked the corner of Sam's bed, causing it to bump jarringly into the wall.

"Sammy! Daylight's wasting." Dean said, standing beside Sam's bed, watching as his brother woke.

Sam grudgingly opened his eyes, blinking blearily at Dean. He groaned, not yet ready to face the new day.

"God Dean. You could have let me sleep a bit longer" he complained.

"I got coffee and donuts" Dean replied, as if that made every thing else alright.

Reluctantly Sam got out of bed and pulled on some fresh clothes. He took the offered cup of coffee, not managing to swallow more than a few mouthfuls. He passed on the donuts.

"You know Dean; we don't have to rush out of here today." He ventured, hoping that Dean would take the subtle hint.

"Nah, might as well hit the road." Dean replied

"We could take a day to rest, restock the supplies…" Sam suggested

"Sooner we, leave, sooner we get there Sammy." Dean absently replied, already collecting their things from around the room and packing up their gear.

Sam packed his bag as he watched Dean moving about the room with concern.

"Dean" he started "You know man, it wasn't our fault. There was nothing we could have done differently. You've got to let it go."


"Dean. If you want to talk about it…" Sam suggested gently.

"Ready to go?" Dean responded, tossing his bag onto his shoulder and heading towards the door.

Sam followed Dean to the car, resigned to another long day on the road.


A/N: I know I haven't portrayed Dean in the kindest light, but things will change – I promise – we know he can't stay angry when Sam's involved. Please review; I live for feedback and it inspires me to continue. As usual, all mistakes are my own.