Disclaimer: I don't own anything Supernatural and I am not making any profits off of this story. It all belongs to the CW and Eric Kripke so, please don't sue and please don't be offended by the language or situations the characters find themselves in.
Sam's brow knitted together in a small frown as sleep slowly lost its hold on him. His moss-green eyes fluttered open and blinked to clear away the slumber that still clung to them. Just as his vision cleared and he became rapidly aware of his surroundings, a deep, familiar voice filled Sam's ears.
" Welcome back to the land of the living there Sleeping Beauty."
Sam gingerly turned over, mindful of his still quite fresh injuries consisting of broken bones, bruises, and electrical burns, and saw Dean sitting over the edge of the queen-sized mattress that was directly across from his own. Sam's entire face morphed into a wan but warmth filled smile.
" Hey Dean."
As Sam continued his tentative movements, Dean smoothly rose from his seat on his own bed and moved the short distance to his brother's side. Dean wordlessly splayed one hand across Sam's back and gently eased Sam up all the way into a sitting position before he spoke.
" Do you need the pain pills Sammy?"
Sam shook his head.
" No Dean, it doesn't hurt as much as it was before. I'm ok."
Dean nodded before he slowly sank down over the side of Sam's bed. For several long moments, Dean said not a word, he just took in the sight of his battered and bruised younger sibling. The sight of Sam with his whole arm wrapped in a plaster cast, barely faded bruises littering his face, and his whole body slightly hunched over in obvious discomfort made all of the anger Dean had felt earlier return with full force. But Dean simply bit the inside of his cheek and reigned in his emotions as he spoke.
" Did you sleep good?" He asked.
" Yeah Dean, those pills really knocked me out." Sam answered with a small nod.
" Well, they didn't knock you out long enough to miss lunch entirely." Dean said with a small smirk, one that Sam instantly returned with a smile as he spoke.
" So what's on the menu, assuming you went ahead and got something."
" Pizza, half pepperoni, half spinach."
Sam immediately chuckled at Dean's considerate move to order pizza with equal parts of their respective favorite toppings. But no sooner had Sam started chuckling, his still damaged ribs voiced their protest loud and clear. With a small groan, Sam carefully lowered himself back down into his bed and breathed through the sudden onset of dull pain. Dean, naturally concerned, was instantly hovering over Sam as he spoke.
" Sammy, is it the ribs? Are you alright? Talk to me man."
Sam let out a small groan as he lowered himself back down onto his bed before he met his big brother's concerned gaze and replied.
" Y-Yeah, I'm okay. Just can't laugh all that much with the way my ribs are."
Dean nodded in sympathy before he spoke.
" What was so funny in the first place?"
At this Dean watched as Sam's pained featured softened minutely into a smile, his deep dimples peaking out slightly as the younger brother spoke.
" My big brother being so sweet and considerate when he orders pizza for me."
Dean was stunned silent for a moment, and then with a small huff he was rolling his eyes and barely keeping himself from grinning like a total loon as he spoke.
" Oh shut it, it's not like we've never had half pepperoni half spinach pizza before."
" Still, thanks Dean." Sam said quietly, meaning it whole-heartedly as he continued to smile at his brother.
Dean for his part, felt a small, tell-tale twinge in his chest at the look Sam was giving him. It instantly reminded him of bygone days, when things were still simple and there was no need for bravado or manliness. The brothers remained in this silence for a long moment before Dean moved to defuse things.
" Well, don't mention it Samantha. Now enough with this estrogen trip."
Dean then moved towards Sam.
" Here, let's get you sitting up. You can't exactly eat lunch laying on your back."
" Well I could try." Sam countered deadpan.
Dean let out a small chuckle at that before he carefully helped Sam up into the aforementioned sitting position. Once Sam was propped up against the headboard of his bed, as comfortable as he could get considering the state of his body, Dean plopped down on his own bed,switched on the motel T.V. and started surfing through the channels until he found a football game in progress.
A good ten minutes into watching the game there was a knock at the door signaling the arrival of the much anticipated pizza that Dean had ordered. It also didn't hurt that the one delivering said pizza was a cute brunette.
Sam sat back against the headboard of his bed, barely keeping himself from snorting as he watched Dean put on the charm for the young lady at the door as he paid for their lunch. By the end of it all, Dean and Sam had their pizza and the delivery girl left with a beaming smile and a pretty good tip.
Dean walked over to Sam's bed and set the pizza box down in the space between them as he took a seat and spoke.
" Alright, let's dig in."
Sam didn't need to be told twice as he grabbed up a slice from the side of the pie that was topped with spinach. The brothers ate there respective slices of pizza in a relatively comfortable silence, until Dean switched on the T.V. and started flipping through the channels until he landed on some cheesy, One Life To Live-esque soap opera that was on. Sam groaned, while Dean simply grinned and pumped up the volume as some bleached blonde started weeping and taking out loud to herself in the way that some soap opera actors delivered their dialogue. For the most part, Sam didn't really mind the soap opera, knowing that this was one of Dean's ways of being playful, and just plain old Dean. It was just two brothers having lunch and watching whatever was on T.V.
Once Sam had eaten his fill, Dean helped him take another round of pain meds before helping the still injured young man get as comfortable as he could with his broken arm and cracked ribs. By the end of it, Sam was propped up against the headboard of his bed with only a small grimace of pain on his face.
" Hey Dean, could you hand me my laptop please?" Sam asked as he looked up at his big brother.
" Sure Sammy." Dean replied as he stepped over to Sam's bags to get the aforementioned laptop.
" It's Sam." Sam countered with a small grin, one that Dean returned with a scoff and a matching grin over his shoulder as he bent down to dig through one of Sam's bags.
A few moments later Dean was handing Sam his laptop before going back to his own bed where he promptly propped himself up against his own headboard and started channel surfing. But as he sat there facing the T.V. Dean was stealing quick glances at his brother who was fast becoming absorbed in his own surfing on the web. As he silently watched Sam, Dean remembered that there were still many questions he had that had not yet been answered, like why in the Hell had Sam gone and done something so massively stupid as going after that Raw-Head all by himself and had nearly gotten killed for doing so. Like before, Dean made a silent vow that he would get the answers he wanted out of Sam, one way or another.
Right now all Dean could do was wait for the right moment for his intended confrontation.
The rest of the day passed by without much drama after that with Dean keeping a sharp eye on Sam who did his best not to aggravate his still tender injuries. It was just after sunset that Dean remembered what the doctor had said before he had booked from the hospital with Sam, that the bandages around Sam's burned hand would need to be changed.
" Sammy, I gotta change the bandages." Dean said after he had retrieved the med-kit from his duffel.
" Sure Dean." Sam said quietly, not looking forward to the attention that would soon be paid to his injured hand.
Dean sat down over the side of Sam's bed and pulled out the surgical scissors from the kit. Dean wordlessly gestured for Sam's bandaged hand, and gently took it in his own when Sam held it out for him. Starting from the very base of Sam's palm where the bandage started, Dean carefully slipped one of the scissor blade under the white bandage and began to gently cut his way through the gauze.
Through out this Sam did his best remain as still as possible, his hand was still quite tender from the electrical burns the taser had caused, and the slight pull on the gauze from the scissors was aggravating the sensitive skin. It was like an itchy and tingly sensation that Sam knew he just could not scratch no mater how strong the urge.
" Is it hurting?" Dean asked without looking up from his cutting, having made it nearly half-way through.
" No, it just itches a little." Sam answered.
" Has it been hurting since we got here though?" Dean asked, looking up for a moment to pin Sam with a look.
" No Dean, it's been okay for the most part, just sensitive." Sam answered honestly.
" Well you're always sensitive." Dean muttered good-naturedly as he brought his gaze back down to Sam's hand.
" Shut up you jerk." Sam grinned.
" Make me bitch." Dean snarked back with smirk as he continued his delicate work.
A few minutes later, Sam was wincing slightly as his hand was freed of its gauze wrapping. The sensation of cool air against his scorched skin had Sam gritting his teeth a bit, but he made no complaints. Dean made quick work of reapplying anti-bacterial ointment to Sam's burned palm and fingers before he picked up the fresh roll of gauze from the open med kit and set to work re-wrapping Sam's hand with expert ease. Dean especially careful when he wrapped Sam's fingers one by one before getting to his palm, and then wrapping it all up into a neat binding.
It was as he was packing up the med-kit that Dean caught sight of Sam's appreciative gaze, and it filled him with both warmth, but also the anger of before. Sam should never have needed to have his hand bound in gauze, or have to be careful about his ribs, or the bandage that was still around his head from the knock to his skull. Sam should not be in the situation they were in now, Hell, they both were not supposed to be this way.
Dean got up and made his way over to his bag so he could put the med-kit away. He then turned back around to face Sam. The moment Dean turned back around, Sam felt his heart speed up and a sense of knowing dread descended over him in a matter of seconds.
Dean didn't have to say a single word, Sam knew instantly that his brother wanted answers, and that he was going to get them one way or another.
" D-Dean I-" Sam began when Dean held up his hand, firm and solid as he stared at Sam.
Sam licked suddenly dry lips and did his best not to avert his eyes from Dean's sharp jade gaze. Dean wordlessly dropped his hand and made his way over to Sam's bed. He slowly took his seat over the side of the bed beside Sam where he was propped up against the headboard.
A beat of silence passed between the brother, a beat that seemed to span almost a life-age before Dean finally spoke.
" You went after a freaking Raw-Head without any back-up, and I don't find out about it until a scared little girl calls me using your phone, and when I get to where you were at, I find you beat to Hell, the doc tells me that you were electrocuted and in a Goddamn coma that you might never wake up from." He seethed from where he stood, staring down at Sam with hard eyes.
Sam wanted to sink into the floor and he looked away from Dean's furious gaze. The moment he had turned his head away however, Sam let out a small noise of surprise when he felt a hand gently, but firmly grip him by the chin and slowly forced him to turn his head back around face Dean.
His brother had taken a seat over the edge of the bed now, so they were eye to eye as Dean spoke, his gaze no longer so hard but still searching.
" Sammy, what the Hell were you thinking going after that thing by yourself? I know that we were both angry when we split up on the road that night, but what you did after was beyond reckless, you damn near got yourself killed and I want to know why. Why did you do this Sam?" He asked as he let go of Sam's chin.
Sam felt the backs of his eyes starting to burn as he forced himself to meet Dean's gaze as he took a deep breath and spoke.
" It was better me than you Dean."
There was a beat of silence before Dean spoke, his whole face a confused frown.
" What the hell do you mean by that Sam?"
Sam bit his lower lip before he took a deep, shaky breath and replied.
" I did what I did because... because it wasn't supposed to be me that got electrocuted while hunting the Raw-Head." Sam said softly.
" Sam what?" Dean began, his heart pounding loud in his own ears, when Sam shook his head and cut him off.
" I had a vision a few days before we went to Roosevelt Asylum. I saw you going up against that Raw-Head, trying to save the same two kids, and I saw you get fried. I saw it all happen, and then everything at the Asylum happened, and Dad called, and you were so pissed at me, so I egged you on into leaving me there on the road so I could stop it and-"
It was here that Dean held up a rigid hand, instantly silencing Sam. Dean's green eyes were blazing in disbelief as he stared Sam unblinking as he spoke.
" Are you telling me that you fought with me on the road on purpose, that you did all of this on purpose because of a vision you had that you didn't tell me about?" Dean growled.
Sam was silent as he averted his gaze and nodded.
" I saw you die Dean, I saw the electricity from the taser going through your body, and then you were just laying there in a pool of muddy water. I couldn't let that happen so I did what I had to."
There was a long, insufferably long beat of silence before Dean, with eyes wide with horror, spoke.
" So all of it, all that crap you said to me that night was so that I would leave you there, so you could take on that thing instead of me, so that you got fried instead of me? You took my place?" He asked in disbelief.
Sam couldn't bring himself to say a word, his throat constricted to the point of agony as his face crumbled.
" Dean I... I'm sorry I-" Sam began but Dean held up his hand, his eyes hard like ice as he spoke.
" Why Sam, why didn't you tell me?" He asked, his voice deceptively calm as he waited for an answer.
Sam looked away and shut his eyes, his jaws trembling as his voice refused to work. He let out a small gasp as a firm but surprisingly gentle hand gripped him by the chin and forced him to look back up.
" Answer me." Dean order, his voice and the look on his face holding no room for argument. Taking in a deep, rattling breath Sam spoke.
" Like I said, it was better me that you. You're my brother, what else did you expect me to do?" He said as a tear spilled free from his pain-filled eyes.
Dean hand fell away from his brother's jaw, his face devoid of emotion, which was ten-times more terrifying than if he had started screaming and raging at the top of his lungs. The older Winchester started to slowly back away, further and further from Sam as a haunted look now began to spread across his face.
" Dean-" Sam began to say, reaching out to his older brother, but Dean just mutely shook his head before he turned away and grabbed his leather coat from where it hung on a nearby chair.
" Dean where are you going?" Sam asked, terror filling his heart. Dean seemed to sense this as he turned back to his brother and wordlessly made his way back to Sam's side.
He leaned down close so that he was eye to eye with same as he spoke.
" Don't you dare think that I am bailin' on you, or that this means that I want you gone. I am gonna go for a drive, and when I come back to this room you better be here, cause if you aren't I will kick your ass straight to kingdom come and then back again, i don't care how wrecked you already are." Dean said softly, but his words may as well have been blasted through a speaker.
" Do you get me little brother?" Dean asked quietly.
Feeling a few more tears spill from his eyes, Sam nodded his bandaged head and spoke.
" Y-Yeah Dean I get you, I'll be here when you get back, I promise." He said with some difficulty.
Dean gave another nod before he reached out and gave Sam's uninjured shoulder a reassuring squeeze, having no doubt that Sam could feel how much his hand was trembling when he did so. Then Dean forced himself away, quickly donned his jacket and all but ran from the room as fast as he could. Sam let out a shaky breath as he heard the familiar rumble of the Impala coming to life, and then the sound of her tires as Dean pulled her out of her parking spot in front of the room and drove off to God only knows where.
Sam sat propped up against the headboard of his bed, in the silence of the room save for his own shaky breathing.
" God Dean I'm so sorry." Sam whispered sadly, but he did not blame Dean for going as he did.
Dean needed the space and Sam would give it to him, and besides that Dean had said in clear words that he was in no way leaving him. With this in mind, Sam let out a small groan and gingerly moved his still healing body so that he lay down on his bed, flat on his back. He focused on breathing so as not to aggravate his mending ribs and settled in for what would be a while. But Sam would wait the rest of the night if he had to, he would be there when Dean came back.
Dean sat behind the wheel of the Impala, using every ounce of his will not to gun the engine and speed through the small town they had stopped in. The last thing they needed was a cop pulling him over. Dean kept in control until he was out of the town, and then he gunned the engine hard as he was on the highway. As he drove at breakneck speed, Dean let out harsh breath after harsh breath, the revelation of what his brother had done washing over him like ice water.
The kid had lied to him sure, but had done so to take his place, to save him from the rawhead. Every broken bone Sam was now having to deal with was supposed to be his, hell the coma, the wounds, all of it was supposed to be his. With a loud yell Dean slammed his fist into the dashboard and then with tired screeching he pulled the Impala off the main road and onto the leave covered dirt that was at its side. The Impala's engine grumbled lowly before Dean jerkily turned off ignition and then just sat there.
As he sat there, Dean felt Sam's words bounce around his skull.
Better me than you Dean
it wasn't supposed to be me that got electrocuted
I had a vision
I egged you on into leaving me there on the road so I could stop it
I saw you die
I saw the electricity from the taser going through your body, and then you were just laying there in a pool of muddy water. I couldn't let that happen so I did what I had to
Better me that you Dean.
You're my brother, what else did you expect me to do?
Dean's vision blurred and he finally let go of his tenuous grasp on control and shattered. Dean Winchester, the hunter of all things supernatural sat in his car on the side of the road and bawled his eyes out. He didn't know for how long he sat there, how many minute, maybe even how many hours, but when he was finally done, Dean wiped his eyes and turned the Impala's ignition back on. He then turned the car around and headed back into town.
He had made a promise and exacted a promise in return, it was time he kept his end.
The drive back to town was equal parts too fast and not fast enough but sooner rather than later, Dean found himself pulling up into the motel parking lot he had left earlier. Dean couldn't hold back a tired smile when he noticed that the light was still on in their room. Dean got out the the Impala once he had parked it once more and fished out the keys to the room from his jacket pocket. He quietly opened the door and let himself in.
The sight that greeted him made Dean's smile widen. They on the bed was Sam, he had propped himself up against the head board and looked up sharply from the laptop he was typing away on slowly at the sound of the door opening.
" Dean." Sam breathed, a bright, relieved smile spreading across his face.
Dean closed the door behind him and without another word made his way over to Sam, gently pulled the laptop away from the younger man and then promptly seized him in a tight but gentle hug.
" I know why you did it Sammy, I now but if you every do this to me again, I will kill you myself." Dean said softly against Sam's shoulder.
" Okay Dean, whatever you want, just don't ever go away like that again, you were gone for three hours." Sam said just as softly as he hugged his brother back as best he could with his arm that he could still move.
" Oh and one more thing, what we're doin' right now, this never happened, you got me?" Dean said with a chuckle.
" Yeah Dean, I got you." Sam said with a grin of his own.
They were Winchesters after all, they didn't do chick-flick... Well, that's not true, maybe they did do a little chick-flick every now and then.
" Bitch." Dean said as he tightened his hold around Sam.
" Jerk." Sam said back as he closed his eyes and kept smiling.