A/N: To everyone I promised that I would have this up last weekend, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to leave it alone for so long, but a lot happened, and then my birthday was on Sunday. But still, that's no excuse. I had most of this written, but a few parts were still incomplete until today. So I'm pretty happy it's finally ready.. Now without further ado, here is the next part. A big thank you to all of my readers and to everyone who has reviewed. Don't forget to leave a review!

Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural or any of its characters. I am only borrowing them for this story. The only thing I own is the plot.


Chapter 9

Dean sat there, staring at the door long after Sam had left. The pain he had felt only moments before was dwarfed by the cold numbness which now pervaded his being. He simply sat there blinking, his mind feeling almost numb itself.

'Sam's gone…He's not coming back this time…I'm alone…' Dean thought as he felt himself begin to tremble. He watched his hands shake, more uncontrollable with each passing minute as his breathing grew quicker, more panicked, as he felt dark emotion, an unbearable surge of something unknown. Screaming, yelling, crying, all seemed like good ideas. He just needed to do something, anything, to vent the feeling of despair which seemed to overflow inside his body. Without thought he stood up and grabbed his duffel bag and keys. Moments passed incoherently, flashes of retrieving his clothes, walking out the room, stepping into the cool outside air, and suddenly, he found himself sitting in the Impala, the engine on, and his hands gripping the steering wheel almost painfully.

'Where do I go from here?' Dean thought with an ease which unnerved him. 'I'm never going to see Sam again; there's no point in staying here, but what do I do from here?' The burning sensation of anger deep in his stomach, the ache in his chest, the despair building in his soul, all causing him to tremble under the weight of the uncontrollable emotion. The urge to break something or someone… or himself; all of it came in such a blinding flash, Dean wasn't sure what he was going to do. Dean felt himself set his jaw in fury even as the tears began to well up behind his eyes. All of it was culminating toward something he was afraid of, but also something he wanted to happen. Dean opened his mouth, almost ready to scream, when, to his surprise…he started to laugh. At first it was soft, quiet, almost like a chuckle, but with each passing moment it grew in volume and intensity, until he was full out laughing, tears streaming down his face. The impossibility of it all was just so overwhelming, and the fact that his worst nightmare had just become a reality…it just seemed so funny.

'This shouldn't be happening. He wasn't supposed to leave yet. And when he left I thought I should be depressed, crying, or something, but I'm…what is this? Happy? This has to be the sickest version of happy there's ever been. Why is this so funny to me? It really isn't, but it's just…God, I must have gone insane. I'm sitting here laughing like a fucking psycho. If anyone saw me right now, they'd think I've lost my mind.'

The thought that he had finally gone off the deep end just made him laugh even harder, as his sides began to ache.

'When was the last time I laughed this hard? I can't remember. It's been years since I've laughed this hard…or even laughed for real. How long has it been? Since before Sam left?'

Just as quickly as the perverse laughter had begun, suddenly it was over with that simple thought. Immediately he sobered up as his thought began a chorus in his mind.

'When was the last time I laughed like that? When was the last time I was so happy I actually laughed?' Dean thought back as joyous memories called out to him, as he painfully tried to recall when he had last been happy, truly happy, without the thoughts of his uselessness, his weakness plaguing his mind. He could remember making Sam laugh that hard, cheering him up after a hunt, doing whatever he could just to earn a smile from his baby brother, but try as hard as he could, he couldn't remember anything, not a single moment of pure joy he could hold on to. He could remember comforting his little brother after he had a nightmare, after he had been yelled at, after he had argued, but not one moment where he had let his guard down enough for someone to help him. He could remember soothing away his brother's tears, destroying his fears, protecting him, but nothing he could remember showed him anyone ever trying to comfort him, not that he ever showed anyone a thing, allowing things to release themselves only when he was sure no one was looking.

'It's the same as it's always been. It's always been Sam. It'll always be Sam. At least when I'm with him, I have a purpose. I can make him happy, relaxed, relieved; I can give him my whole being. I forgot for a little while. Without Sam, I'm the same worthless person I've always been. I'll always be the freak, the guy everyone will always leave because of how damn weak he is. Sam is no different than the rest. He left…but he stayed longer than everyone else. I was actually starting to hope I could get him to stay for real this time. It might not have been real, he could have only been using me, but he was here, and I was actually starting to have faith again… I just lost him again. I just lost Sammy again. No more Sam. No more happiness. No more anything. And all because of me. All because I couldn't help myself from screaming. All because I wasn't strong enough to…do anything. I just sacrificed the only thing I am because of how pathetic I was.'

The emotions began to die away, much to Dean's relief as the familiar cold began to sweep through his being once again. He embraced it, feeling it quell his emotional tide. He felt the same numb feeling he had right as he watched Sam leave for the first time. His hand twitched with the sudden insane urge to grab the knife hidden under his clothes in the duffel bag. The urge became maddening and before long, it was all he could think about. All he wanted to do was feel pain. More pain for screwing up like he had. He needed a punishment for what he had done. It wasn't long before Dean slowly unzipped the duffel bag and rummaged through it with one hand, the action feeling sure and familiar, but also dirty and traitorous. When his hand wrapped around the hilt of the blade, he felt a jolt run through him, a mixture of the feeling of being both burned and electrocuted. He gripped the hilt hard enough for it to hurt, a precursor for what was to come. He breathed in shakily as he disentangled his knife from the bottom of his bag. He pulled it out and examined it with great care, as one would a child. Inwardly, he ticked off every detail he noticed about the knife, the sheen of the metal, the feel of the hilt under his grip. He shivered as he slowly pressed the metal up against his skin, the sadistic pleasure of picking up where he had left off almost too much. But when he tried, he couldn't press any harder. He couldn't bring himself to let the skin of his wrist be sliced by the sharp blade. Why? Why couldn't he cut? No one was around, no one cared if he died…he deserved to die, so why couldn't he cut?

'Because of Sam.' Dean realized. 'Because of what I promised Sam. He believed me. He smiled when I told him that. He looked so happy, so trusting. Like how he did when we were little kids. I don't want that to go away, even if I'm not going to see him again. I can't, because when I do, I know how he'll see me, and I don't want to imagine it. I…I can't do this. Even if he isn't here, I can't do this and know I betrayed him. I just can't.'

Even so, Dean remained in that position, the knife held in his hand as he lost track of time. Lazily, he looked over in the direction of the street and just watched the traffic go by, no real urge to do anything, to go anywhere. The sun began to set, and Dean didn't think much of it. Nothing was different; everything in the world was the same. The only thing that had changed was Sam's life and his…whatever he had.

'No point in just sitting here.' Dean thought after some time. ' It's the same as it was before. I'll manage, just like then.' Except it wouldn't be like before. Dean knew that. His baby brother had found a place in his life again, broken down all of his defenses, made the older Winchester depend on him. For however short, Dean had actually been happy, letting his brother use him in exchange for staying with him. He loved being with Sam, in every possible way. He loved Sam. He'd had a taste of what he'd always wanted, and he had screwed it up. There was no way to go back to the way it had been before, no way for it to just go away. Now that he had this memory, he knew from here it would only get worse. Progressively worse, until he would shut down, alone and dying in some unknown part of the country.

'I knew this would happen anyway.' Dean reprimanded himself. 'I shouldn't be so stupid and clingy. No one needs a person like me on their conscience. Time to get going…' Dean's thoughts were simple. Just bits of things he needed to remember as he put away the knife and closed his duffel bag. He put his keys into the ignition, briefly wondering when he had turned the car off, and decided to wait for a few moments for the car to warm up again.

"Dean!" Dean looked up in surprise into the rear-view mirror, looking to see who had just yelled his name. He saw a figure run toward his car, but didn't feel any real urge to get away. At this point, he wasn't really in much of a mood to care. If something happened, it would. Dean looked to his side, and almost laughed as he noticed he had rolled down his window. He was about to laugh, when the figure finally got to his car. He looked up, a ghost of a smile on his face when he froze, his jaw slackening and his eyes widening. Because staring right at him was Sam, a beyond pissed off look on his face and looking more threatening than anything he had ever seen before.

"Give me the keys!" Sam roared, and Dean quickly complied, shutting off the engine and handing them to his baby brother.

"Get out of the car." The younger Winchester was livid and Dean was quick to react. The moment the older Winchester had exited his car; Sam was all over him, grabbing his collar and almost slamming him against the car, only stopping himself at the last minute.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" Sam growled furiously into his brother's face. The older Winchester just kept staring wide eyed at his brother, not believing Sam was actually in front of him, despite the pain of being pushed against the Impala by his strength.

"Sam…?" was all Dean could say, still unbelieving.

"What the hell is wrong with you?! You just vanished without warning! What were you thinking?!" Sam asked, his voice both louder and angrier with each question. Dean could only stare into his baby brother's angry face, his throat shut, unable to form words. Suddenly, he felt Sam press a hard kiss to his lips before pulling away and crushing against his chest. On impulse, he wrapped his arms around Sam, feeling safe for a brief moment, before the confusion returned, this time intertwined with the guilt of having hurt his brother.

"Damn it, Dean, do you know how worried I was? You just left. I was so scared when I walked into the motel room. I thought something happened to you, or you had done something to yourself. Jesus Christ, Dean." His baby brother sounded dangerously close to tears, and so he allowed himself to melt into the warm touch, unable to think properly anymore. Now close to Sam again, his emotions, his urge to stay with his baby brother, the fear he would be left by the only person he ever truly loved, the pain of having been probed so roughly, all of it swirled once again, on a much higher level than before. As hard as he could, he clutched the back of Sam's shirt and immediately, he felt his brother's embrace tighten in response.

"Dean?" Sam asked, his voice sounding concerned. Burying his face into his brother's shoulder, Dean shook with the emotion and the ache, which had returned now with a vengeance. The older Winchester was no longer able to tell whether Sam was scared or angry, and for a second Dean really didn't care.

'Does it even really matter what he feels anymore? He's the one that left, not me.' A moment later however, Dean's thoughts turned back onto him. 'And that makes you worth something? Sam's the one who should have everything, not you. You knew that this would happen, and that this was as close to real happiness as you would ever get, but you did it anyway. Don't be mad at him for that.'

"What were you thinking?" Sam asked again, quieter than he had before, but it was more than enough to gain the older Winchester's focus.

"I…was leaving."Dean said into his brother's shoulder.

"Where were you planning to go? Why?" Sam asked almost painfully

"I just needed to get out of here, Sam. I didn't think you were coming back." Dean responded, in a tired, shaking voice.

"What are you talking about?" The younger Winchester asked, sounding bewildered

"You…you told me you were leaving" Dean said, confused at the tone in his brother's voice

"I…what? No, I-" Sam began before realization dawned on his face. "Dean, I didn't mean it the way it sounded. I just needed to clear my head. Just, our conversation…what you said… it was too much. I didn't mean I wasn't coming back." Sam said, much to his older brother's shock

"You weren't gonna leave?" Dean asked, more to himself than to Sam. He didn't believe his little brother, but even so, he felt hope grip his heart, even if for just a moment. His own stupidity, his weakness, his…just his failures, pushed it away, and Dean fought off the urge to tremble.

"I wasn't trying to scare you, Dean, but-"Sam began before Dean cut him off.

"I'm sorry, Sam." Dean blurted, as the trembling intensified. He felt tears begin to stream down his face for the second time that night as he vented all of his emotions once again, this time in a normal way.

"You're sorry? Dean, you shouldn't have to-"

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." Dean began to sob, the despair, hope, anger, depression, sadness too much as he repeated the words in between gasps. Vaguely, he felt his little brother get back into the car, pulling him down too. Now virtually on his brother's lap, he continued to apologize, even as tremors wracked his body.

"I'm sorry…I-I'm sorry…I'm s-sorry." Dean felt the arms around his waist tighten, and his little brother began to rock him slowly as he whispered into his ear.

"Dean, it's okay. I'm here now. It's fine. Just let it all out." Sam soothed, only making the older Winchester sob harder, the disgust of his weakness fueling the trembling. He lost the ability to speak as it got harder and harder to breathe with each passing moment, the stinging tears still flowing from his eyes. Dean closed them, unsure of why fear had suddenly flared within him. The older Winchester felt several lifetimes go by as he sobbed, harder than he ever had before, his brother's attempt at soothing murmurs only causing them to become stronger, but even so, Dean tried to say something

"I'm so sorry. I- Sam, I could've-If I wasn't so weak, then this-I'm sorry-God I can't-Please just-This is all-I shouldn't have-but-" Dean tried to speak, but sobs would force him to stutter, and after stopping another thought would suddenly escape his mind. He grew more and more panicked as he cursed himself for not being able to express himself and his breathing grew uneven and harsh. He couldn't get enough air into his system, he couldn't get out anything right, everything was just-

"Dean! Calm down! You need to calm down! " Sam ordered loudly, causing Dean to flinch slightly. He began to get lightheaded even as he tried to focus on his baby brother. "Dean, listen to me! Can you hear me?" Dean nodded, and Sam continued, "Okay. Try to slow your breathing down. Focus on my breathing and try to match it." Dean heard his brother's breathing become deep and even, and he tried to slow his frantic breathing, at first unsuccessfully until, after several minutes he sounded the same as Sam. His sobs died down and his trembling stopped as the older Winchester calmed down enough to speak.

"Sam, I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry." Dean repeated, this time in better control of his voice.

"Dean you don't need to…"Sam began before sighing, seeming to come to a better decision. "Why are you apologizing?"

"I'm just sorry for…everything. For screaming, for being in pain, for being so weak, for being useless, selfish, stupid, worthless; for making us argue, making you worry, not being able to give you everything you need…" The words were difficult for Dean to say, and when he felt his brother's body stiffen against his own, he quickly stood up, expecting Sam to have been disgusted. His little brother stood up just as quickly beside him, with a stricken expression on his face.

"…Where is all of this coming from?" Sam said, his tone anguished, even as he forced it to remain level. The older Winchester's eyes became downcast as he thought about how to explain this to his little brother. For a brief moment, he entertained the thought of lying, but he knew Sam wouldn't take any lies right now.

"It's just…the truth. Just the way things are." Dean murmured, his voice an anguished whisper.

"Why?" Sam asked just as quietly.

"Because it is. I told you before, Sam. Don't you remember? After you caught me cutting myself? No one's ever going to want me because I'm not good enough. No one's ever going to love me because I don't deserve it. No one's going to save me because, why would they want to save someone so weak? I've told you before, I don't matter to anyone. Not to Dad, not to any of the people I save…not to you." Dean's voice cracked on the last part before continuing to say, "Sammy, I love you. And it's ok that you don't love me. I don't deserve it. I never have. I never will. I understand that. So this argument, I know it's my fault. The pain's my problem. I know you need to get rid of some tension, so just…use me. It's the reason you were staying, so just…let this go. Please." The older Winchester closed his eyes as he heard a breath escape from his little brother. Dean was ready to take anything Sam would do, but he didn't want to see the disgust which he was sure must have been pasted onto his features. He lay waiting, several minutes passing by, before he realized Sam wasn't doing anything.

Dean tentatively looked into his brother's eyes and was surprised to see disappointment and a sadness which bordered on despair emanating from Sam's eyes. He was about to ask about it, when he saw his baby brother shake his head almost sadly.

"Oh, Dean…" Sam said, pity evident in his tone.

"What? What's wrong? What did I do wrong now?" Dean asked, almost afraid to hear the answer. When he saw his brother shake his head again, he just grew more and more confused.

"Do you really think what you said is true? That no one loves you? That I don't? That you don't deserve it? That the only reason I'm still here is for the sex?" Sam sounded like he was almost pleading for Dean to say the right answer, but now the older Winchester wasn't sure which one that was anymore.

"I…is there another reason? If I hadn't…If I wasn't so… just…yes, I do" The older Winchester mumbled, the words jumbling as they uncomfortably escaped his mouth. He felt his cheeks flame and he couldn't meet his brother's gaze. He felt a ringing in his ears as the silenced deafened him. After several moments, Dean felt Sam's arm wrap itself around his shoulders as a quick kiss was pressed to his lips. He didn't even want to try and look up to see what Sam's reaction was.

"Come on, let's go inside." Sam murmured the order gently and Dean felt his brother direct him toward the motel room. He gave no resistance as Sam moved him into and through the motel to their room, unable to look up. His brother made sure not to go quickly as if to make sure the pain in the center of his being didn't spread as badly as it had before. Before he knew it, they were back in front of their room, and Sam pulled away to open the door. Dean walked in along with his brother, who placed the older Winchester's duffel bag beside the unused bed.

'When did he get my bag?' Dean wondered for a moment, before deciding it didn't really matter. Even so, he couldn't help but feel hurt for a moment at his brother's actions. 'So he doesn't want me to sleep in the same bed either, huh?'

"Come here, Dean." Sam commanded and the older Winchester complied, slowly sitting next to his little brother. When he dared to glance up, he saw his brother removing his clothing, and watched in confusion. After Sam was done he gave the older Winchester an odd glance, as if asking why he was still fully clothed. Tentatively, he moved his hands to the hem of his shirt, and looked at his brother for approval. When Sam nodded, he quickly removed his shirt and his jeans, despite the slight ache, as if looking for something to at least slightly redeem himself. Once he had relieved himself of his clothing, he looked back at his brother, and saw a flicker of lust and something he couldn't understand pass on his baby brother's face. The older Winchester waited for Sam to do something, and was rewarded with a kiss a minute later. He felt Sam gently guide him down onto the bed, under the covers. When his baby brother pulled away, he expected Sam to continue, but to his surprise, instead he was pressed against his brother's chest in a hug, like the way they had slept every night after making love. Dean looked at Sam, curious, and he saw a sad smile make its way across his brother's face.

"Get some rest, Dean. You're still in pain right?" Sam asked, and Dean nodded, knowing Sam demanded complete honesty right now. "Let's go to sleep, ok?"

Dean nodded again, and made himself comfortable against his brother, despite his confusion. He felt his brother's arms tighten around him, holding him close, and the warmth immediately caused his eyes to begin to droop, having been unaware of how tired his body really was. Sam pressed a kiss against the nape of his neck, which confused him for a moment, before he felt his body respond more and more to the warm feeling of being touched by Sam once again.

"Good night Dean." Sam whispered softly. Near drifting off, the older Winchester barely heard his brother's words.

"G'night Sammy." Dean mumbled and he heard Sam say something he couldn't make out before drifting off into a blissful sleep.