A/N: I'm terribly sorry for leaving you with such a long wait. I know my thousand excuses won't be enough because that'll just waste more of your time so I hope you enjoy this, and I hope this was worth the month-long wait.

I have got to thank Jess (GG101) for her amazing and fast beta on this fic! Somehow she lived past all my mistakes and managed to make this presentable.

Thanks a bunch Jess!

Dean sensed something was wrong as soon as Sam's muscles were taut. His eyebrows quirked, and suddenly Sam jerked his head around and looked at him. His eyes were filled with tears, the pain so evident it bore deep into his soul, and Dean immediately movedin as quick as a flash, his eyes scanning Sam's body for any injuries.

"Sam? Sammy?!" Dean cried.

Sam squeezed his eyes shut as his breath came out in short gasps, his grip on Dean's jacket tightening as his fingers clenched the material.

"Sam? SAM!?" Dean's frantic eyes searched his brother's face, and it was then that he suddenly realized that Sam was having a panic attack.

Dean rested his weight on his knees as he took Sam in his hands, rubbing circles firmly on his back. "Breathe through it Sam, calm and steady. Just breathe Sam."

Tears streamed down Sam's face. He couldn't think, and he barely heard Dean's voice. All he heard was his heart beat beating faster and faster, his lungs burning as they lacked oxygen.

"Sam! Concentrate! Easy now, with me." Dean tried to breathe along with Sam, making his intakes dramatic hoping Sam would get it through to him. "One…." Dean inhaled. "Two…" Dean exhaled.

He repeated the process again and again, his hand never leaving Sam's back as it was on auto-pilot stroking Sam's back gently but firmly over and over again.

Sam's body tried to co-operate, his eyes on Dean and his mind screamed Breathe!

"One…Two…One…Two…" Dean coaxed.

Slowly, Sam's breathing became more like Dean's, still a bit fast, but improvement was definite.

"That's right, you're getting it Sammy. Try a little harder." He urged, his hand stroking Sam's back in wider circles, the gesture Sam gratefully accepted. "One…Two…One…Two…" Dean kept repeating those words, his over-dramatic inhaling and exhaling as Sam looked at him with wide, brown eyes.

Soon, Sam's breathing became even and normal and Dean let out a sigh of relief. Sam coughed, still drawing in large amounts of oxygen as he slumped back against the bathroom wall.

"You scared the shit outta me there kiddo." Dean said softly.

"I'm sorry, I-I didn't know that was gonna happen, I swear…" Sam said, short and quick, the words rolling off his tongue.

"Hey, hey calm down. I'm not mad, Sam. What's wrong? Just tell me what's wrong."

"I-I… I just remembered something and…" Sam shifted uncomfortably and Dean got the vibes.

"Sammy, whatever it is, I won't laugh. I won't think it's stupid. This is important, and I understand. What's wrong?" Dean's voice was gentle. He was in full big-brother mode and it made Sam blink furiously at the tears rebuilding in his eyes.

"I remembered… when Jessica decided to have this water fight for fun, and… and I just had this sudden image of her- instead of the water stain across her shirt, it was the… the bloody gash on her abdomen as she was pinned on the ceiling…" Sam swallowed and looked down, taking a deep breath in.

"Aw Sammy…" Dean's hand brushed against Sam's arm, knowing no words could make Sam better.

"It's not fair…" He whispered brokenly, and Dean looked at him with worried eyes.

Sammy, how am I supposed to make this right again?

"Why…after all that time we spent together, that son of a bitch just came and took her away? Just took her away…" Sam's voice trailed off as he sniffed back tears and Dean's heart ached for him.

"Sam…" Dean didn't know what to say. What could he say? Sure, his dad trained them to patch wounds, stay alert, hunt using all five senses or even including the sixth sense, but he didn't prepare them for this.

Sam leaned his head against the bathroom wall, his eyes transfixed on the white plastered ceiling above them.

"Everybody around me keeps dying. They keep dying…" He whispered. "Soon it's going to be you, Dean."

"Sam, that's not true!" Dean'shis voice firm and reassuring. He just hoped it was enough to help his broken brother see the truth. "It's not your fault, it never was and don't you for a second start thinking it is! I'm the witness, Sam. I speak the truth, and only the truth."

Sam's eyes swam before daring to look into Dean's serious orbs.

"You have done nothing wrong." He confirmed as Sam nodded slowly and sniffed.

"C'mon Sam, let's get you off the bathroom floor." Dean added with a soft smile.

000

By the time they moved to their bed, Sam hadn't gotten any better. He was still a shell of who he used to be, broken and alone. Dean swallowed hard. How was he going to pull Sam out of this black hole that was slowly sucking his brother away?

There was a moment of awkward silence as Sam continued to stare at the pile in his hands. Dean wasn't sure what to do as he chewed on his lower lip. What the hell were you suppose to say to your brother who lost his girlfriend in a fire?

The soft rustling of papers could be heard as Sam scattered the bundle around, looking at them with a faint smile.

Dean was about to speak up, but Sam beat him to it.

"You know, she would always ask me about my family." He said; his voice barely above a whisper. "If I had a brother or a sister, where my family was, if I was close to you guys…"

Sam wiped a sleeve across his face, any trails of tears now non-existent on his face.

"I found out a lot about her." He continued. "She would always tell me about her family. She had a sister, and she talked about her a lot." Sam chuckled softly.

"What happened?" Dean asked gently.

Sam lifted his moss green eyes and looked up at him, a soft sad smile on his face.

"I'm sure you have a hero, Sam. Everyone has their own hero." Jess asked, her eyes twinkling as she rested her chin on her palm. "It's a matter of who, and why."

"My hero?" Sam smiled at her. "He's the best person ever. The cockiest, but the nicest. The bitchiest, but always so gentle and cautious."

"Oh? And who's this Prince Charming?" Jess asked, leaning closer.

"My brother, Dean."

Jess' eyebrows shot up. "You never talked about your brother. What's he like?"

"He's the best brother anyone could have. It sounds so… commonly used, but it comes from the heart. He raised me up and watched my back, he knew me so well it was like he could read me easier than the alphabet."

"Are you two really close?"

"Close? Of course we're close! If I went somewhere without telling him, he'd tear the whole town apart trying to find me!" Sam chucked at that.

"Sam, all due respect, but if you two are so close, why don't you give him a call once in a while? It's been three years since you came to Stanford, and not once have you talked to your family."

Sam looked down, his hands automatically starting to fidget. "I know; it's been hard for me too. It's just… the night when I told my Dad and Dean that I was going to Stanford…they weren't exactly pleased."

Jess' eyebrows knitted. Weren't pleased? She thought. Who wouldn't be pleased if their son scored a full ride to Stanford?

"There's a family business that we've been trained to do, and all of us are expected to follow it through. Going to Stanford meant leaving this family business, meant turning my back on my family. They didn't see the world with the same two eyes I did. I was different, and I always have been."

"But…but can't you still run the family business at Stanford? Or after your stay at Stanford?"

Sam shook his head sadly. "This isn't a normal family business. It's difficult to explain. But these past years, I've missed them so much, especially Dean. Every day it hurts and it feels like walking through a swamp without my guardian, my light. I just wish…"

His voice trailed off as he glanced up at Jess awkwardly. He couldn't reveal everything. Not the family business. Not the truth. This would have to do.

Sam brushed a strand of blonde hair away from Jess' face. "So who's your hero?" He decided to change the subject.

"Mine's my sister."

Sam looked at her, a familiar feeling creeping in him.

"When we were younger, we used to argue a lot. She didn't treat me very well and I hated to see my sister like that. It wasn't until one day when her teacher was talking to the class about younger siblings, and she came to a realization that I wasn't something to be looked at with ignorance, but a blessing. Being an older brother or sister, meant that you were someone's role-model."

Jess paused to take a breath and Sam found himself listening intently at her story.

"Every movement you make, everything you say, is important. Who you become, is who your younger sibling becomes. The stronger the bond, the closer the friendship, the easier it'll be when your older. It's like having a best friend around your side constantly. You tell your younger sibling everything, and they tell you everything."

Jess smiled at Sam as she continued.

"So after that, she changed. She looked at me as a blessing from God, and she looked at herself as a role model; a hero. It was such a sudden change that it was then that I realized how lucky I was. My life was complete with her, and nothing would be able to replace that. She would put a smile on my face even if the sky was grey and cloudy."

Sam laughed lightly as he stretched and flexed his muscles. "I guess that's something else we both have to add to the list we have in common."

Dean gaped at Sam in silence. That was how his brother really felt about him? Of course, he knew it deep inside of him, but to hear it spoken in words just blew him away. How could Sam possess such power…

"You're such a chick." He said as Sam laughed. "I can't believe you said that. I gotta give hand it to ya, it was very poetic and beautiful, but it was just missing that…touch."

"You're a jerk." Sam said, his lips curling at the corners.

"Right back at ya." At everything you said about me. Without you, Sam, there would be nothing.

There was a short silence, both thinking about what had been exchanged a few minutes earlier. Sam recognized Dean's hidden affection and love in those words and he deeply treasured it.

Dean broke the silence when a loving memory came into his thoughts. "Do you remember when we were little?" He asked.

Sam's eyebrows quirked as he looked at him. "Yeah, of course."

Dean's chuckled softly at the thought. Little Sammy with large innocent eyes following each movement he made. Little chubby hands clasping around his own.

Sam looked at Dean, wondering where he was going with this one. His crystal brown eyes stared deeply into Dean's, waiting.

All of a sudden, the 23-year-old Sam Winchester that Dean saw through his eyes transformed to an eight-year-old Sam.

"Do you remember when I was twelve and was taken to hospital because of a high fever?"

Sam nodded. "Yeah," He whispered. "I remember that day. I was only eight and you scared the shit outta me. I was so scared."

Dean smiled as he recalled the events of that day. Having a distressed eight-year-old Sammy was pretty funny…

Sam arrived home that day as he dropped his small backpack down and kicked off his little shoes by the doorway. He ran into his bedroom, hoping to see Dean there either resting or asleep. He had been sick and had taken a few days off school.

Sam skidded around the corner, his eyes wide as he found no one occupying the bed. He ran to the bathroom, but still the same results.

"Dean!! Dean?!" He shouted, his little feet running into room after room.

"Dad?!"

No one was home. Why wasn't anyone home? Sam thought. Dad never lets me stay at home by myself. What if something bad has happened? What if they left me behind?

Sam's breaths came out in quick gasps as he tried to think of something to do.

"Dean?! Dad?!" He shouted even louder, hoping he would receive an answer. Tears sprang into his eyes as he bit his trembling lip.

He ran to the phone and picked it up.

What was John's number?

Sam mentally shouted at himself. Why couldn't he remember his dad's number? He just recently started to memorize it.

Sam squeezed his eyes shut as he recited the first six numbers.

What were the last four? Think! Think!

A sudden sound at the door caught his attention as he whipped his head around. He slowly put the phone down, forgetting about it and threw himself behind a wall.

Remember, Sam. Always have protection. If it's a weapon or something that can block an intruder. His dad's voice echoed in his ears.

Sam held his breath as the door swung open and John stepped through the door

"Dad!!" Sam screamed as he ran towards John. "Dad! I don't know what's happening. I came home and… and none of you were here and…"

"Sam? Sammy, it's alright. I'm sorry for leaving the house empty. C'mon, put your shoes on, we have to go."

"Go? Go where? Dad, Dean's not home!"

"Sam, I'll explain everything later. Hurry up, let's get you in the car."

000

"What?!" Sam cried.

John tensed as he focused on the road. That didn't go as planned.

"What do you mean?!" His shrill voice echoed in the Impala and John made a quick check to see that all windows were wound up.

"Sam, calm down."

"But Dean's in hospital Dad!! What do you mean calm down?"

John stole a quick glance at his eight-year-old son. He sounded so old…so intelligent and smart for his age.

"Yes, Dean's in hospital and-"

"Does that mean he'll die?" Sam lowered his voice to a whisper, afraid to hear the answer he feared.

"Sammy, I told you, it's not at all serious. All we need to do is get his temperature down. That's all kiddo."

Sam looked at him, not breaking his gaze. He asked a question, and he demanded an answer.

John sighed and chuckled softly after realizing what Sam was waiting for. "Dean's not gonna die, Sam. He's too strong for that. We're Winchesters, remember?"

000

Sam and John sat in the waiting room as Sam fidgeted with his clothing.

"Sammy, stop worrying. Just by looking at you you're making all the nurses worried."

"But Dean's in trouble." His small voice sounded, his gaze fixed on the floor.

"Sam, look at me. Sam?"

Sam raised his head to look at his father.

"I promise, Dean is only in here because his temperature shot up too high. That's all. Do you understand? Nothing's gonna happen to him."

Sam nodded and looked at the doctor that was walking towards them.

000

Dean was propped up on his bed as he looked at Sam and the doctor.

"Are you sure?" Sam asked.

"Yes, I'm positive. Everything's fine." Doctor Milson assured him.

"But I mean, are you really, really sure?"

The doctor smiled uncomfortably and glanced at John.

"Sammy, the doctor has said yes over a million times already. What else do you want?" Dean said exasperatedly, though there was no roughness behind it.

"But I'm just making sure. Like Daddy double checks things, I'm just doing what he always does."

John and Doctor Milson shared a look; grins forming on their faces.

"But Sammy…" Dean's voice trailed off as Sam spoke up.

"So Dean's going to be fine? Like perfectly fine?" He asked the doctor.

"Yes, I assure you. I'm positive."

Sam's face broke into a huge smile as he laughed happily.

"Dean!" He lunged himself at his brother.

"Whoa, easy there tiger."

"Dean! I was so worried about you! I came home and I didn't see you and… and I was trying to be like you and…"

Dean chuckled softly and ruffled his brother's short brown hair.

Sam laughed along with Dean as they recalled their memories. He remembered the way he panicked that day when he found out no one was home.

"You know, Sam, not all memories have to be bad." He said softly.

Sam looked down and licked his lips carefully. "Yeah I know…it's just…" He started fidgeting on the hem of his shirt like he was young again.

"I know it's hard, but I know you can do it. Losing someone …it isn't easy to cope with. Imagine that you died, Sam, what would you want me to do?"

Sam didn't hesitate. This was something he knew how to answer blindly. "I'd want you to live your live as best as you can without having me to drag you down every day."

"And if I don't? If I stayed in the same place, stopped hunting, stopped living and just grieving, how would you feel?"

Instantly, Sam shook his head. "If you do that, I'll come back as an angry spirit and pound the message in your brain."

Dean smiled. "Exactly."

"But Dean…" It's different between Jess and I!

Dean seemed to sense his thoughts and asked, "Did she know you loved her?"

"Yeah, of course."

"Then it's exactly the same. Life's too short to always think about the bad things in life. Have fun, and only treasure the memories that are worth remembering."

"Yeah, but you still remembered me being an eight-year-old brat. That's not something worth remembering."

Dean laughed. "Sure it is, 'cos you were being a clingy bitch and that, is definitely something." I'll always remember the good times we had together, Sammy. Every little one.

"Jerk." I don't even know what a mess I'd be right now if not for you.

"I think I already made my point that you're a bitch, Sammy. Always will be, always have been." And that, is the Sam Winchester I know.

000

Soon, Sam gave up fighting exhaustion and fell asleep. Dean walked around to his bed and gathered the loose bundle of papers that came from Jess' safe. He brought them over to the table and looked at the pile before him.

He knew not to intrude in his little brother's belongings, but a page written by a bright sparkly purple pen stood out amongst the rest.

There's something odd about Sam today. I can't exactly say what, but I know it's something. We went on a camping trip today, just the two of us. I thought it'd be fun, out in the woods just by ourselves. I love nature, especially the smell of a pollution-free environment.

When we first arrived at our marked campsite, we called it a day and set up our tents. I watched him carefully when his back was towards me, and I noticed that he every now and again he tilted his head towards the woods and scan it.

For what?

That puzzled me. What was he looking for? What was he afraid of?

Later that night, when he thought I wasn't looking, I saw a glint of silver and quickly recognized it as the tip of a knife. Sam hid it under his pillow and turned around and smiled at me, pretending nothing was wrong.

What was he hiding from me?

I stayed awake and when I heard him snoring, I knew that he was asleep. I wanted to ask him so many questions, but I knew he would never tell me.

I know him too well, and one of his main priorities is to keep me safe.

Within the next few minutes, I joined Sam and fell asleep, and nothing could be heard except for soft breathing…

The next morning, Sam went outside to build a little fire. I took this moment and silently sneaked over to where he slept and gently lifted the pillow up. I expected to see a blade, a knife of some sort, but there was nothing.

I felt like someone was watching me and turned around, but there was no one. It could have been Sam, but I wasn't sure anymore. I didn't know what to feel.

Throughout the day, Sam had acted perfectly normal. Like the Sam Winchester I always knew. But I could still tell that behind his mask, something was off.

I secretly wished that he could be more open, share with me the secrets that he was burdened with.

The next day, I crawled out of the tent to find Sam staring off into the woods, scanning the trees slowly. I followed his gaze but didn't see anything. Nothing at all. Only the birds that flew around the branches every morning.

That didn't seem out of place. Nothing did. Or maybe I wasn't as good an observer as he was. I looked at Sam and saw that he had his hand stuffed in his pocket, the veins on his wrist standing out. Without a doubt, I knew what was in his pocket.

The knife.

What was so dangerous about this place? I decided to confront Sam and walked up to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. He seemed to tense, or was he startled by my presence? I wasn't sure of anything anymore as I asked him what was wrong. He looked into my eyes and I couldn't seem to place what he was feeling at that moment.

I placed my hand on his pocket where the knife supposedly was. I felt the hilt of it, the tip of the sharp metal through the denim jeans.

Instantly, Sam withdrew, obviously not wanting me to find out what was hidden. I asked him what was disturbing him, that I was willing to help, but he denied it.

The rest of the camping trip seemed normal, I never saw the knife again and the space underneath Sam's pillow remained empty.

I guess I was just being a bit over dramatic, or a bit too worried about him because the days after that, he was the Sam I knew. Maybe that camping trip was just wrong timing, because everything seems to be alright now.

I've never asked him about it, and he never told me about it. I didn't think there was anything to worry about. Maybe I was just too tired and imagined it. Maybe he was just putting some money under his pillow because he was too exhausted, and the glint that came off it was what I saw.

Dean smiled dryly as he read how Jess thought she was going a bit nuts. Though in hindsight, Dean didn't need to ask Sam what was wrong. He didn't need to see that Sam knew Jess had snuck up on him that day and checked his pillow and he surely didn't need to ask Sam why he had concealed his knife in his boot.

Camping trips had always been hard for all three of them- especially Sam. He still remembered the day when the hunt had gone wrong, their dad so angry it frightened Dean to a level where he would never forget that day…

John's Impala slowed to a halt as 9-year-old Sam and 13-year-old Dean rushed out, gathering their weapons from the trunk of the car. John stepped out while loading his gun and scanned the woods.

"C'mon boys. We need to hunt this Wendigo down fast. You know the story."

"Yes sir." They replied simultaneously. Sam was really eager to finish this hunt because as John informed them, two hikers were out here- apparently lost- with a Wendigo roaming around.

"Follow me, and remember, hunt with all your senses. Don't let your hearing betray your sight. Don't let your sense of smell betray your hearing." John said in a low voice.

Dean followed with his gun pointed to the ground, his feet trained to make no noise. The hunt is on, he thought excitedly.

Sam followed John beside Dean, scanning his surroundings. He looked at what Dean was doing, since he had more years of experience and tried to follow. He looked down at his own gun in his firm grip, and clicked the safety button off.

Dean glanced at him, without needing to say anything, Sam understood. It was all in his eyes, telling Sam to be quiet, not to give off their presence.

Dean suddenly thought he heard the whisper of voices as they drew deeper and deeper into the woods. He stopped abruptly and held a hand out, as John strained his ears to hear what Dean had heard.

It was getting closer and closer, and all of a sudden John spun around on his heels.

Two frightened people drew back in shock at the sudden movement, and John realized that they were the lost hikers. Quickly, he pretended to search for something in his back pocket as he put the gun behind his waistband. Without hesitation, Dean did the same, concealing his gun and straightening up, straightening his tee over the gun.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the two hikers back away. "Wait, what-what are you doing with that gun?" The girl exclaimed.

Shit.

"Deer hunting." Dean interrupted. "Daddy takes us deer hunting because it's Sammy's birthday today. Just a special way to celebrate." He said innocently, patting Sam on the head.

John looked at his son and silently thanked him for that. He had taught him well. The hikers seem to buy that and their shoulders visibly relaxed.

John sighed in relief and looked down at his watch.

It was nearly getting dark, so he decided to go back to the Impala with the two hikers and direct them back to town.

000

"Wow, I can't thank you enough John, you and your boys" Rosary humbly acknowledged as John told her the directions to town.

"If it wasn't for you, we wouldn't have ever seen daylight again." Nathan continued as he thanked John with a handshake.

"Oh it's no problem. We were just passing by, decided to go on a hunting trip and saw you two." John said.

If Nathan and Rosary weren't so blindsided by their rescue, they would be curious, suspicious as to why a father of two were "passing by" but yet gotten so deep into the woods and not lost themselves.

"Do you mind if we take a photo? Just a token of appreciation, I guess." Rosary asked, holding a camera while smiling sheepishly.

The Winchesters never did photos, but when Sam jumped up and down John couldn't resist. He knew how much Sammy had wanted to save these people.

The photo came out of the slot, revealing John sitting on the Impala with Sam on his lap and Dean sitting beside him.

Rosary looked at it, smiling, and handed it to Sam kissing him on the forehead.

A while later, the two hikers thanked the Winchesters and walked away, eager to tell everyone that they were safe.

000

It was growing dark and John had built a tent near the Impala. "Tomorrow we get up at 7:30am. The sooner we hunt this bitch down, the better."

Sam nodded, responding with a soft 'Yes Sir' as he lay down and thought about tomorrow. Why do we still have to hunt the Wendigo? The hikers were rescued, so why can't we just put a big fence around the woods like they do in the zoos?

Questions and thoughts swirled around his head, some too hard to work his way around and others he knew John would shout at him if he let them out of his mouth.

Soon, he succumbed to sleep and mentally prepared for the big day ahead of them tomorrow.

John had finished drawing the protective symbols around the Impala and the tent when he saw Sam and Dean sound asleep and he smiled to himself.

000

Dean glanced behind him, looking at Sam as they stealthily went deeper into the woods. He didn't have to ask to know what was up with his brother. After rescuing the hikers, Sam's eagerness to finish this hunt had left along with the hikers.

Aware of Dean's look, Sam tore his gaze off the forest floor and looked at him.

C'mon Sam we have a job to finish. Get your gear together.

Dean's eyes seem to say. Sam gave a small nod of understanding as the hunt resumed.

A few hours later, the grey afternoon sky was threatening to rain above them, but John wanted to finish this Wendigo once and for all.

Sam's legs were aching as they stepped in front of the other, but he was determined not to fail his brother or father, so he kept his mouth shut.

He paused for a while, bending his knees and stretching his muscles. A few seconds later, he ran to keep up with them, but it was then that he heard something.

A branch snapped as he twisted his head to the direction he heard it in. Leaves on the trees rustled as they brushed against each other, but that seemed to come from the other direction.

Were there two Wendigos?

Sam was on high alert, his eyes shifted between the two areas where he heard the noises.

"Dad, Dean! They're here!" Sam whispered, never dropping his gaze.

The woods were silent, and Sam thought if he had maybe really imagined the sounds after all. He turned around, expecting to hear John barking at him but all he saw was the green of the trees blending together.

"Dad?! Dean?!" He raised his voice, careful not to give his presence away.

He spun around on his heel, all that was going through his mind was how much trouble he'd be in.

000

When Dean could no longer hear his brother's footsteps, he growled, "Sam, I'm not saying it again-." That was until he stopped in mid sentence and turned around, finding nothing.

"Dad! Dad! Sammy's missing!" Dean yelled, quietly enough for himself to be heard and the panic to be evident in his voice.

"What? How did that happen?"

"I-I don't know. He was behind me and…"

"Don't worry Dean, we'll find him."

"I'm sorry Dad, I'm sorry, I didn't know…"

"It's not your fault. C'mon, let's find him and ask him what happened. I'm sure he didn't just run off because he felt like it."

000

Shit.

Shit.

And shit.

Sam was lost in the woods by himself and his family was no where to be seen. Then, a familiar voice echoed and bounced off the trees.

"Sammy!?"

Dean's voice. It was faint, but audible. Sam began running towards the sound. Thank God they found me, thank God… He thought.

"Sammy?! Where are you?!"

"I'm here! Dean, I'm here!" He shouted, but the voice didn't seem to hear him.

"Sammy?!" He called out again.

Suddenly, the wind picked causing Sam's hair to blow in his face. He no longer could hear the voices anymore, since the wind probably swept them away.

"Dean!!! Dad!!!" He shouted on top of his lungs, any fear of the Wendigo long gone.

It all happened so quickly, one moment he was scanning the woods for any familiar faces, the next he was soaring through the air. Sam yelled out in shock as his feet were swept off the ground.

Sam collided with a tree as he crumpled to the ground, landing on his leg sending bolts of pain up along his leg. His head was swimming, his vision blurry as his uncoordinated eyes tried to track his attacker. just a suggestion.

The violent wind died down, and the woods were still and silent again.

His last moments before unconsciousness was that he thought he saw a brief glimpse of a Wendigo, but all turned black before his mind registered if it was real or not.

000

The wind suddenly picked up as Sam's scream filled the air. Dean's wide eyes reflected John's fear for the youngest member of their family.

"Dad, we gotta find him!!" Dean's frantic voice came out shakily.

They picked up speed towards the direction of Sam when all of a sudden the wind died down.

"It's got to the Wendigo." John breathed. "Shit, it's got Sam."

Dean's worst fears were confirmed. If only he had kept a better eye out for his brother…if only he had let Sam go in front of him rather than behind…

000

Sam felt the icy coldness press up against his cheeks and chest from underneath him. The cold air that seemed to rise filling his lungs with every breath he took, and he struggled to remember what had happened and how he had landed himself in such a situation.

His side hurt as he remembered his collision with the tree trunk. He remembered Dean calling him, but why would Dean call him when he knew that the Wendigo was out there somewhere? That wasn't like Dean.

Sam hoisted himself up, his palms scraping the cold cement floor beneath him and as he moved to stand up, the pain hit him so fast he cried out, the strength in his arms vanished as he plunged to the ground.

He lay still, panting as he twisted his head around and looked at his right leg. He swallowed at the sight, pushing away the mental note to himself that he was in desperate need of water and tried to remain still.

Blood pooled around his leg, his jeans soaked in crimson red and Sam grimaced at the sight. He decided to sit up, working with his upper body and trying not to move his leg at all. Finally, he was sitting up, the position giving him a full view of his right leg.

Sam leant in and pulled the denim up, and his eyes widened in shock. His ankle was swollen and bruised, and you didn't have to squint to see where it had gone wrong. A bit above the break, a large gash ran across horizontally, a trickle of blood still making trails down his leg and dripping onto the cold floor.

000

"Dean." John's harsh voice pulled Dean away from his pondering thoughts. "Dean, over here."

Recognizing his tone of voice, Dean immediately strode over to his father, looking at where he was pointing to.

Sam's gun! This was Sam's gun he had been carrying with him!

Instantly, Dean spoke the first thing that crossed his mind.

"Why would Sam drop his weapon and just leave it? Does he really hate this hunt that much?" The events of the past two days had caught up with Dean, and if he had a second thought he wouldn't have spoken these words.

But John hadn't been paying attention to Dean. He was already putting the pieces of information together as he looked up and saw a blood smear on a trunk of a tree.

"Dean, I think I might know where Sammy is." John said as he pointed to the blood. Dean gasped as realization hit him.

"The Wendigo definitely has Sam. This makes it easier. Let's hope we're not too late." John whispered, picking up his pace with Dean closely behind him.

000

Sam had tried to find a way out, looking for an entrance but it was too dark, and his injured leg wouldn't let him move.

He shivered as the cold from the cement floor and the empty underground space was surely getting to him as he licked his lips. How long had he been under here? How long had he last savored the sweet taste of water trickling down his lips?

Even the thought made him cringe, as he tried to curl himself into a ball to shield himself from the cold. He bit back a cry as he felt the bones in his broken ankle grind together, scraping across each other and he couldn't hold the tears that broke free from his eyes.

A soft plea for his family graced over his lips as he sunk into the darkness, the cold and dehydration doing its job…

000

John handed his gun to Dean as he unlocked the hatch to the door that lead underground. He looked at his son in the eye and nodded once, ready to face the creature that was waiting for them.

Dean gave John his gun and they both headed down, their eyes trained to adjust the sudden lighting.

A sudden movement to their right, and John had fired his flaregun into the darkness. The place lit up, and in a brief second Dean forgot the Wendigo and scanned the surroundings for Sam.

"Dean, go! Find Sam!" Was all John managed to say as he shot at the Wendigo again. Once again, the place lit up as Dean saw a figure lying on the floor, far far away.

His heart fluttered, he spun around to face John and luckily, John understood. For a split moment, their eyes locked and they understood each other, and Dean wasted no time.

He sprinted off, gun in hand just in case something went wrong between John and the Wendigo. Again, the room lighted up and Dean saw Sam, in the exact same positon as he was the last time he saw him.

Why hadn't he moved? Responded to the shots of the guns? Called their names out?

No, he couldn't be- No. Dean would never let that happen.

Despite the often fires coming from John, Dean could hear his footsteps pounding in his ears. He urged himself to go faster, to leap into the space in front of him and have Sam in his arms, no blood, no pain, safe and alive.

Finally, he reached his destination, and the underground cave lit up again and a distant howl and crackle could be heard. Dean couldn't care any less that the Wendigo had been killed, as he looked at his brother…pale and cold.

So cold.

Dean began whispering, coaxing his brother to wake up, but Sam remained still and quiet. Dean checked his pulse, his breathing, but everything seemed alright.

When Sam didn't respond, Dean moved and checked his leg. He bit his lip, and he distantly heard the sound of footsteps pounding against the cement floor.

Soon, John was towering over them both, and he took Sam in his arms planting a kiss on his forehead.

"You did good, Dean. Let's hurry and get back so we can treat Sam. We're lucky he's unconscious or else…" He chuckled at his imagination but his humor fell when he realized how much trouble they were in.

Dean followed closely behind, what he always does, as he watched his father carry Sam into the clearing. Secretly, he wished that he was Sam's savior. Wasn't that his job?

All through his years, Dean never discussed it to anyone. He didn't need to, as they grew up, the friendship, brotherly bond and even the unspoken bond that allowed them to know what each other was thinking about without even saying it, grew stronger and stronger.

Dean found himself boring holes into the table, Jess' letter still in his hands but forgotten. Suddenly, he dropped it, letting it flutter down joining the rest of the pile as he walked over to his duffle, remembering to keep his footsteps quiet as he looked at Sam.

Quiet, peaceful and devoid of any pain. So innocent and young, but yet experienced so many… Dean's eyes traveled to Jess' pile of memories and decided to leave that thought hanging. There was no right word for it, and it certainly wasn't a tragedy because not everything in their life had been a tragedy. Dean didn't see it that way, at least. He saw himself as lucky, having a brother to look out for, and someone to look out for him.

Dean rummaged through his clothes, until he came to the very bottom and found John's journal. He opened it, flipping it to the back where he kept all the photos. Most were crumpled, the whiteness highlighting its age.

Dean scanned through all of them until he found the one he was looking for. He took it, closing the journal, he walked back to the table and studied it.

It was the picture that was taken by the two hikers. A snapshot of their younger years, a moment frozen in time reflected back at him. He studied the photo and let his shoulders slump.

He studied all three faces, analyzing how Sam didn't appear ready for the photo, and how Dean and John seemed like best pals, father and son. The Sun was shining directly above them, making each of them squint.

Dean was so intrigued that he didn't hear or sense Sam's footsteps padding across the soft carpet as he made his way towards him.

"Hey." He offered.

Dean jumped, startled and his eyes averted to Sam.

"Sorry, didn't mean to startle you."

"Not startle, just surprise." Dean replied, smirking.

Sam let out a puff of a laughter, as he took a seat besides Dean. "That's a nice photo. We don't have many, and it's nice to remember our past." As soon as the words slipped out, he regretted them as the scattered pages filled with Jessica's handwriting became known to him on the table. "Well, sometimes it's nice. The other times…you just want to forget." He ended the last word on a whisper and dropped his gaze.

"Do you remember what happened?" Dean shook the photo slightly, telling Sam what he was referring to.

"Yeah, of course."

Dean chuckled. "Me too. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

"Both, I suppose."

"You know, I've never told you this, in fact I've never told anyone but…" He looked at Sam, willing not to give himself away.

An old trick from the past will work.

"What?" Sam studied Dean.

"Actually, never mind. I haven't told anyone, might as well keep it to myself."

"Dean. What is it?"

Perfect. Dean thought.

"Well, honestly, when I saw Dad walk away with you in his arms… I was …jealous. Sorta.."

It was then that the humor was zapped from the atmosphere, and Sam found himself staring at the hazel eyes. He detected no joke, no sarcasm, no lie.

"But when I was the first to find out, I felt proud. I felt like I was your savior, and for a split second I was…until Dad…you know. It's stupid, really."

"That's not stupid, Dean. It's the same with me sometimes. But Dean, you should know, ever since I was days old and until now, you're my savior. I wouldn't even have reached three-years-old had you not taken me out. I wouldn't be talking to you right now if you hadn't done exactly the same thing 22 years ago."

Dean smiled. His plan had worked. Not only had he gotten his baby brother's humor back, he had done something much bigger.

His smile grew bigger.

"See, Sammy. Not all memories have to be bad. And I think I just proved that point. Older brothers are always right."

Sam's eyes widened. "What? So you're saying, what you just said to me was all a setup?"

"Hmmm…maybe." Dean chuckled as he looked at Sam. "But it's true. Even if your memory has a feeling of loss, or sadness, maybe failure, it doesn't have to be bad." Dean flipped his hand gesturing the bundle of paper of the table.

"Just because…" Dean forced himself to go on. "Just because Jessica isn't there in the picture anymore, doesn't mean all that doesn't mean anything except loss."

Sam nodded, but Dean could see the message was not clearly getting through. This was harder than he thought.

"Look at this photo, Sam." Dean referred back to the one the two hikers took. "What are the most important things you remember?"

"When we saved the two hikers. When I thought I was brave surviving by myself with a broken ankle and then when you and Dad came to save me." He answered with hesitation.

Dean nodded. "And not all that is bad. Understand me? There's always something good in every memory, and not every memory has to be buried deep down, pretending it never existed because what's the point? Think of the good things, remember it, and treasure it."

When he finally saw Sam raise his eyes to look at him, he gave a small though strong nod of confirmation and his heart fluttered with pride as he saw a flicker of fire dance in Sam's orbs.

"I guess I just made you the biggest chick flick geek in the world." Sam smiled.

"Chick flick moments?" Dean laughed. "Not me, kiddo. That title's reserved for you."

Sam laughed and shook his head amusingly. Dean walked over to his duffle and put the photo back where he found it: at the back of John's journal.

Sam's gaze wandered around until something caught his eye. A photo was peeking out from under the pile of paper on the table. He held the corner and pulled it out, holding it upright and inspecting it.

It was a lovely photo of Sam and Jess, their faces filled the photo and you couldn't see anything else. Only their happiness and love for each other.

Jessica was wearing a beautiful dress for a formal occasion, thin straps holding it up. Her hair was half in a bun and half out. Her lips were enriched with bold red lipstick and her eyes were beautiful, just enough make up to make her look like a celebrity. Sparkly eye shadow peeked out from behind her thickened, black and curly eyelashes.

Sam had his arm around her shoulder, holding a red rose and he was wearing an expensive suit.

It was a school dance that night, and they enjoyed themselves so much they swore they would never forget the night.

Dean turned around after putting everything back in his duffel and froze at the spot. He saw Sam looking intently at a photograph, and he wasn't sure what he was going to do. How would they live on their lives if everything that reminded Sam of Jessica made him sad, angry or moody?

Suddenly, Sam smiled, his dimples showing. It wasn't a pretend smile because he somehow realized Dean was staring at him, his feet rooted to the ground, but it was a natural smile.

Dean found himself releasing a breath he had been holding and walked towards Sam, a hand on his shoulder. He glanced at the photo and saw what a gorgeous woman Jessica had been and looked at his brother and how expensively dressed he was. The red rose also didn't go unnoticed.

It was like their happiness was radiating off the photo.

This wasn't something someone would usually laugh about, yet Sam had pulled through. That giant chick flick moment was definitely worth it, and he too smiled.

"Looking quite expensive there Sammy." He said, making the moment light.

Sam laughed, and Dean had to admit, it was better than any classic rock he had in his Impala.

He lightly patted Sam on his shoulder and headed towards the fridge to get a few beers.

"You did good Sammy. I'm proud of ya bitch."

Sam snorted, quietly shuffling through more of Jessica's memories, now looking at them in a totally different aspect.

"Thanks, jerk."

Fin.

Thanks for reading guys. As always, please review and let me know how I did. I'm starting a new fic pretty soon, so keep an eye out for that.