Sleep had always been something of an issue with Dean, for as long as he could remember. He would argue with his Mommy and Daddy that he wasn't tired…even as he was rubbing his eyes from his head and yawning so widely, John would comment that he could see Dean turning inside out one day. That always got Dean giggling as he was carried upstairs and tucked in, cradling his blue teddy bear and listening intently as his Daddy told him stories about cowboys and knights and heroes of old.

They were always the stories Dean loved the best. The ones where he could imagine his Daddy being the hero and saving the princess with long golden hair. Daddy always spoke about the two little princes that were born afterwards and how they were the bravest in all the land. Dean couldn't imagine his baby brother being brave. He was all pink and smelt like baby powder and milk but he had the biggest smiles for Dean and it made being a big brother the best thing in the world.

His dreams were so nice back then, no nightmares, just heroes and princesses.

But then the flames came and Daddy couldn't save Mommy. The home Dean had always known was gone and the only way he could sleep now was curled up with Daddy on their single bed in Uncle Mike's house….until Sammy would wake in the night. Then Dean would crawl into the cot with him and cuddle his brother until they were both asleep.

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It was Pastor's Jim's after that. Daddy leaving Dean and Sammy behind to go and be the hero, rescue other princesses from the monsters in the night.

Sammy seemed happy to stay there. He got given bible story colouring in books and all the crayons he could ever want. Pastor Jim was calm and quiet spoken, always telling the boys stories of his own heroes from the bible. But they were never Dean's heroes….he liked it better when Sammy was asleep and Pastor Jim would talk about his days in the marines with their Daddy.

But no matter what stories Pastor Jim told at bedtime or how much Dean cuddled into Sammy on their double bed…he could never sleep properly until he heard the Impala's engine rumble outside and knew his Daddy was home. Then there would be a rough calloused hand gently smoothing his hair, the smell of smoke, whiskey and gun oil as his Daddy checked on him.

It was those nights, with Sammy hogging the covers and his Daddy snoring on the single bed across the room, that Dean slept soundly.

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As the boys grew, Sammy ( It's Sam.) wanted his own bed. And Dean mourned the loss of warmth and contact. But as long as he could hear both his father and Sam asleep in the room with him. All was well. Sleep wasn't always perfect when Dean's mind replayed the day's hunt or his mistakes, but his family was safe and that was all that mattered.

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Then Sam left for Stanford and sleep was only something Dean found after he'd had his ass kicked on a hunt or had delved into a bottle deep enough. It took a mighty amount of alcohol to drive the nightmares from his mind of what could happen to Sam while he was alone.

Sometimes, when Dad was off hunting and Dean was truly alone, he would drive out to Palo Alto just to check on Sam and see for himself that he was okay.

Then it would be a short drive to the nearest bar and a warm woman to keep him company while he slept, usually a blonde to remind him of what he was fighting for….who he was supposed to save.

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When Dad vanished, the first thing Dean thought to do was find his brother. They were a team, it just made sense to him. Sam had balked at the idea of a roadtrip at first…and it took Jess's death to really show the younger Winchester where he belonged.

The first week after they hit the road to find Dad, Dean knew Sam didn't sleep…because he didn't either. There was one nightmare after another, Sam always waking up calling for Jess, his hands knotted up in the sheets, sweat drenching his body.

Dean respected Sam's need for privacy and pretended to sleep while he heard Sam get up from the bed night after night to crawl into the shower and cry in private.

It tore at Dean, hearing his brother like that…but what ate at him more was the fact he got the best sleep he had known for months during the times Sam drove. The sound of his Impala and the presence of Sam beside him all that needed to put him into a deep sleep.

Having Sam there felt so right and Dean wouldn't have changed that for anything….not even his brother's happiness.

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Manning, Colorado, was the last time Dean ever slept properly again. He had his brother on the bed opposite him, their father was back, safe and sound, watching over his boys while he listened for vampire attacks over the two-way.

It was the last time Dean had a dreamless sleep, no concerns….to him, all was right in the world again. His family was under one roof again and no matter what it took, he would keep it that way. He could be the glue to hold that family together…the hero saving the day and keeping the castle intact.

They would take down the demon together and it would be all over….or so Sam said. Dean knew it would never be over, he would always be a hunter, saving the day, rescuing the ones that couldn't save themselves.

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But life was never like the fairytales Dean had heard as a little boy and that was brought home with blood spilling clarity as the demon possessed their father and tried to cut Dean open from the inside out. The car accident that had followed was merely a means to an end…a way for the demon to try and remove both Dean and John from the picture so it could have Sam to itself.

John gave his life in exchange for Dean's….or at least, that was what Dean could work out from what had happened. His father was gone, passing on the sword to Dean and asking him to defend Sam, kill him if he had to.

Sleep became a bitter enemy again, taunting Dean, teasing him after hours on the road until he would stumble into a motel room with Sam in tow and just collapse on his bed. Or worse, in the shower, waking up to find the water was cold, goosebumps prickling his flesh and making his teeth chatter.

He would plunge into a dark sleep, full of images that scared the hell out of him. He'd seen too much, knew too much…the weight of his promise weighing heavily on Dean. Sleep was only granted when he wore himself out, when he pushed himself to the brink of exhaustion.

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And then one day…Sam went for burgers and disappeared for a week. Dean had been too wired to sleep, too determined not to lose another person he loved. Sleep was pushed aside by adrenaline and fear, the miles being eaten up until he got to Bobby's, with Dean clutching the wheel and never once allowing his body to feel tired, to feel the pain it was in from the bullet his brother – no, not Sammy, never Sammy – had put in him.

It was only when he had Sam back, when he could look into his brother's face and see that it was Sammy looking back at him--not those cold demonic eyes-- that Dean finally slipped up and let sleep claim him again.

Sam had been forced to take the wheel as Dean slumped in his seat about an hour from Bobby's. The Impala had slewed across the road and almost into a tree before Sam had gotten her under control and sat there gasping for breath. Closer inspection of Dean had revealed the bullet wound that was now torn and ragged, weeping watery blood.

It had come flooding back to Sam in a torrent of images, the pain he had inflicted, the words he had said…the fact he had been trying to beat his brother to death.

Sam had gently moved Dean into the back seat of the Impala and driven the to the nearest town where he had found them a motel room. Once inside, he cleaned Dean up, dressing his wounds and tending to the bruising, the broken swollen skin of his lips and above his eye.

Then Sam had tucked Dean into the crappy motel bed and sat with him, watching over his brother, seeing the way Dean's face became that of a frightened little boy as the nightmares took hold again.

Sam laid down on top of the blankets and curled an arm over his brother, the way Dean had always done when they were kids. " It's okay, Dean….I'm here, man. I'm here."

Dean relaxed, slipping into a deep sleep that his body had craved for so very long, reassured that nothing could hurt him or Sam. They were knights, warriors, heroes again.

The End…………….