A/N: Thank you everyone for reading and reviewing and being patient as I posted this story. The novel is in the hands of the judges and more fanfic is on the way! Thank you to my beta Abni for that amazing stuff she does, Dennis for reading and rereading and TraSan for some extra handholding when I needed it.

Be Still My Beating Heart

Chapter Nine

Never to make promises that break
It's like singing in the wind
Or writing on the surface of a lake
-Sting

The dark was closing in, a pain-soaked night, the stars pinpricks of agony touching him with their fever-hot points. His heart was stopping, his breathing was slowing, ragged gasping breaths as his body struggled to go on, as it struggled to stay alive through the connection that held him bound to Dean. He was losing the fight. Dean was dying. He was dying.

"Dean, I'm sorry," he said into the night, the cold dark full of soft sounds, the rustling of animals, the gentle lapping of the waves on the lake shore, the hiss of the fire that was burning him alive. "I failed you."

Sam. Dean whispered through the connection, his voice weak in those last moments of their lives. No. Sudden panic, Dean's voice was stronger for a moment. No, Sammy. Why? Why did you do this? I can't be the cause of your death and I am. I am. God, Sam.

It was a strange sensation, aware in his body, aware of Dean, knowing the moment his brother's heart ceased beating, his own slowing, nearly stopping in sympathy, the connection holding them, pulling him along to his death. Sammy? Are you still there? A beat and another and then nothing. A shock vibrated through him, white-hot, pain, thumping into his body unmercifully. Again and again, each one driving him closer to the abyss of darkness waiting for him, and finally, the last shock driving into him—a shaft of pain in his chest exploded outward and shoved him over into the dark.

Something cold was pressed against his face. The cold was accompanied by a soft sniffing sound, something snuffling against his face. Sam cautiously opened one eye, a black lab returned his look. The dog looked at him for a minute longer then turned and walked away. Sam watched the dog, it wandered to the edge of the hole and peered in, deciding there was nothing interesting there it moved on along the edge of the lake.

He rolled over, awareness creeping back slowly. His chest hurt, he was fevered, it was hard to breathe. There was something that felt almost like a hum in his head. He was also very cold. Sleeping outside is not warm, almost as bad as camping. I hate camping. The sky was a soft gray, just past sunrise, the clouds were hanging low, almost fog, promising a bright day after it had burned off. Burn…hmm, I think I was on fire? He pushed himself up, expected charred flesh and charcoaled clothing and was surprised to see only dew-dampened jeans. Ok, maybe not actually on fire? That's something.

Sam sat staring, a little blindly, at the lake, the soft clouds drifting in the trees with gossamer threads. Dean, we were dying. I'm alive. He took a breath and the odd double sensation was there, Dean's heart beating, his own mirroring it. He could taste the medicinal taste of oxygen and feel the bite of the IV in his brother's arm. Well at least he's sleeping through that.

A jarring sound intruded on the quiet. At first he couldn't place it. Is that my phone? Sam struggled to his feet and stumbled towards the car. The phone stopped ringing as he wrenched the door open. He picked it up off the seat. Twenty-seven missed calls? Bobby. Sam dialed. "Hey, Bobby," he said, surprised at how rough his voice was. It was hard to breathe, he dropped into the seat of the Impala.

"Sam, where the hell have you been?" Bobby demanded, an urgent tone in his voice. "You can't do that ritual, I found more information…"

"What?" Sam said, digging around under the seat, hoping to find a bottle of water.

"The binding, the human effigy…"

"Yeah?" He found a bottle and drank a little, hoping the cool liquid would help his growing headache, he coughed a little, his chest gurgling with the spasm.

"You did it, didn't you?" Bobby said. "You already did it." There was a note of desperation in Bobby's voice.

"I told you, Bobby." He rested his head on the back of the seat. "What's up? What about the ritual?"

"The binding, Sam. The shaman is physically tied to the other person," Bobby said desperately.

"Yeah, Bobby, you said that earlier." I did do a little research on my own, you know.

"But Sam, you are tied to Dean…"

"Yeah, I got it, I figured that out when we died a little while ago."

"What?"

"Our hearts stopped. I think they must have resuscitated Dean and it affected me, too," he said, wearily. "I need to pick up my stuff and head into town."

"God damn it, Sam, there's more."

"What?"

"Even if the demon is banished…"

"It is," Sam said, pulling himself out of the car and walking back to fill the hole and grab the blanket.

"You are still bound to Dean, until that runs its course, you can't break it or Dean dies."

"Yeah?" he said, only half listening. Does that mean he gets to wear the faerie wand until the spell runs its course? He'll love me for that. I can't wait for that moment.

"The shaman dies, Sam. The illness it is at least partially transferred over, the effigy becomes the vessel, the other might be healed, but the effigy…" Bobby trailed off.

"I know, Bobby," he said, tossing the shovel and the blanket in the trunk.

"What?" Bobby said, barely audible.

"I know," Sam said, getting into the car and turning the engine on. "I knew going in to it." And even if I didn't it wouldn't have changed anything, Bobby, not one thing.

"But Sam…"

"I think I might have figured a way around it." He was maneuvering down the road, hoping he could keep going long enough to get back to the hospital.

"You think you might have," Bobby snarled. "Is that like playing Russian roulette and being pretty sure you have the empty chamber before you pull the trigger?"

"Something like that, Bobby." He coughed again, reaching for the bottle he took another sip. "I need to go."

"Sam…Damn it."

"Talk to you later, Bobby," he said, breaking the connection. Before he says he's coming out, before he yells at me some more. Sam turned the Impala into the hospital lot, picking a parking place near the doors. He wandered into the building, aware of the strain on his body, a scraping in his throat. The espresso bar was open, the girl with the blue lip ring was working that morning.

"Hey, Sam," she said with a broad smile. "Wow, you look terrible."

"Thanks," he said, his voice sounding hoarse.

"Vanilla latte, on the house," she said, pulling a cup off of the stack. "Did you find Mara's shop?"

"Mara's? Oh, the pagan shop," Sam said. "Yeah, she was very helpful."

"She has everything in there, and she just knows so much," she said as she steamed the milk. "She's helped me so many times."

"Yeah," Sam said, taking the latte.

"Sam?" she said a little shyly. "Do you think that after your brother is better you might want to maybe get dinner or something?"

Did she just ask me out? "Uh, maybe, after Dean is better," he said, turning away. I won't run, that would be undignified, of course the blush is probably not all that dignified either. He took the elevators up to Dean's floor, leaning against the wall on the way up. I am not getting better. I might have guessed wrong. But if Dean's ok, that's what matters. The doors opened, he pushed himself out of the elevator and down the hall.

"How is my brother?" he said, stopping Dean's doctor in the corridor.

"We nearly lost him," the doctor said with his matter-of-fact compassion. "But he seems to be holding his own right now."

Yeah, I knew that."And? Is there any change?" Please?

"No," the doctor said, looking at him with a frown that seemed to say "of course not." He smiled the compassionate smile. "No change."

"Thanks," Sam said, turning to Dean's room. He walked in, the hum in his head was more pronounced. Dean. It's Dean. I wonder how long the binding lasts? If I live, of course. The hum growled a bit at that thought, not a conscious word, just a slight grumble.

"I'm back, Dean," he said, wondering if he needed to vocalize the words at all. "The demon is banished, staked into the earth for the next thirty-nine years, maybe more, but at least that many." He sank down in the chair beside the bed and put the coffee on the tray, his throat hurt too much to drink anything. It was hard to breathe, his heart was beating sluggishly, his head hurt, his chest hurt, he was fevered.And listen to me complain.

Sam leaned back in the chair, propping his feet on the edge of Dean's bed. He was fading a little. I knew it, though, I still hope… He let himself relax, let the thin red line binding him to his brother thicken, strengthen. As he let go, he allowed the machine breathing for Dean to assist his lungs a little. The hum muttered a little, concerned.It's ok, Dean. I just need a little sleep. He wasn't sure if he said it or thought it. Sam closed his eyes and let himself drift away into the gentle drugged sleep holding his brother and now affecting him.

"He's improving." The voice cut into Sam's sleep, rousing him a little. "I don't understand." What did he just say? Dean?

"His fever went down a little after his brother arrived," another voice said. Sam opened his eyes. The doctor and the nurse were standing on the other side of the bed, talking quietly.

"What?" he said, his voice was hoarse, barely a croak.

The doctor looked over with a genuine smile. "Your brother is improving."

"Really?" Just tell me, please.

"Really," the doctor said, shaking his head. "I don't understand, never seen anything like it. His immune system started working again."

"Will he live?"Will he live? Sam swallowed, waiting, holding his breath. His hands were shaking. Will he live? Please just tell me. Dean? If he says you are going to live you listen, ok? If he says anything else just ignore it.

"I think he might," the doctor said, still shaking his head a little. "Damndest thing I've ever seen." He looked at Sam again, his eyes reflecting confusion, and wandered out of the room, muttering a little under his breath, still shaking his head. Sam thought he saw him shrug.

"When are visiting hours over?" Sam croaked out.

"About three hours ago," the nurse said gently. "You slept through two shifts." She smiled at Sam.

"Thanks," he said.Was it the hot Heather nurse that let me stay? He struggled to sit up, aware of the fever still in his body. Don't go, Sam, a whisper said. "I won't," he answered softly.

"The doctor hopes to start getting your brother off the respirator tomorrow morning."

"He's that much better?"

"Yes," she smiled again and left the room.

"Tomorrow, Dean," he said softly. Tomorrow. "I'm going to sleep a little more, ok?" He sighed and leaned back into the chair and turned on the TV. There was nothing really on, so he stopped flipping at the History Channel, finding a program on haunted America. He was asleep before he found out about the Strange Occurrence in Cle Elum.

It was lighter in the room, the soft glow waking Sam. He opened his eyes. A nurse was standing by Dean's bed. Sam watched her for a minute. She looked over and smiled at him and said something about weaning Dean off the respirator. Sam nodded, not fully awake and let his eyes close again.Still a little fevered, not feeling all that well, really. He listened to the infomercial on TV for awhile, letting his mind wander, still aware of the hum in his head, of the red line connecting him to Dean.

Sammy? The voice drifted into the edge of his sleep. Sam? A little more urgent that time. SAM? Panicked.

Sam's eyes snapped open and he was on his feet beside Dean's bed before he was awake.What is it? Why is he panicking? He's waking up. Oh, god, restraints, he panics every time. Every time. His hand dropped down onto his brother's arm. "It's ok, Dean," he said, wondering if he had imagined the shout.

What's going on?

He felt his body reacting to the tube in his throat, attempting to escape the sensation of choking. Sam took a deep breath, trying to be calm. "It's the respirator, Dean, try and relax and let it do the work for you. They're starting to take you off of it, I know it sucks—you know the drill."

Sam? You can hear me?

"Yeah," he said, looking down at Dean, his brother's eyes fluttered open. Sam felt a grin start on his face. "Hey."

XXX

The gentle dark had claimed him, pulled him away with sharp claws. He remembered his brother's hand on his, long after everything that warm bond was there. Oh, god, Sammy, please don't let this be goodbye. Then the dark, silent for the most part, filled with occasional pain, a flash of something terrifying and sounds he couldn't identify. The dark had altered, changed somehow, he was not alone. Sam? The thought formed somewhere far below the surface. Then, suddenly, a spark of something that flowed through him, out of him, a red line that connected him to his brother.

Sam? What the hell are you doing?

"Dean?" his brother's voice echoed back along the line.

He wasn't sure what Sam was doing. It was a ritual of some kind, intricate. He tried to stop his brother, tried to keep him from following through, knowing all the time it was too late. Stop. Sam stop. Far too late to save his brother. Whatever you are doing, stop it. I mean it. He could feel the flames consuming Sam, the pain passing from his body to his brother. Sam raised his arms and drove the stake into Dean's shirt, he knew when it happened, he was somehow watching through Sam's eyes. Pain exploded out of the hole, back along the line connecting him to his brother. He felt Sam's heart stopping, slowing as his own ceased to function.

SAM!

"I think I killed us both." Sam was apologetic.

Sam…No.

"Sorry about that."

Bye, Sammy

"Goodbye, Dean."

They were dying. He could feel Sam fading away, the fire was burning Sam, consuming him. Regret flowed along the line. "Dean, I'm sorry," Sam whispered. "I failed you."

Sam…No. It was odd, aware of Sam, aware that his brother was dying, knowing he was, too. No, Sammy. Why? Why did you do this? I can't be the cause of your death and I am. I am. God, Sam. It was all drifting away.Sammy? Are you still there? Silence claimed him in an explosion of pain.

The darkness was no longer lonely. He was aware somehow. There was a gentle hum, like a voice in a far-off room buzzing in his head. The voice was weary, ill. Sam? It must be Sam. He's alive. Sam, you're alive. The voice was a little louder suddenly "I wonder how long the binding lasts? If I live, of course," his brother's voice was clear. Sam, what the hell have you done? he growled, not really sure if the words had formed or were merely expressed in that growl.Dean listened as the voice quieted again, back to that soft hum. He knew when Sam was back in the room with him, he knew his brother was in trouble. The soft hum evened off as Sam fell asleep.

Pain. He was fighting for breath, fighting against something in his throat. It was a familiar sensation. Familiar and terrifying. Sammy? He thought he could sense his brother. Sam? He tried to reach up and pull the thing out of his throat. His hands were tied down in restraints.SAM?

His brother's hand dropped onto his arm. Comforting, warm. "It's ok, Dean," Sam said.

What's going on?Panic tightened in his chest as air was forced into his lungs.

Sam took a deep breath. It calmed the reaction a little in Dean. "It's the respirator, Dean, try and relax and let it do the work for you. They're starting to take you off of it, I know it sucks—you know the drill."

Sam? You can hear me?

"Yeah," Sam said, answering him. Dean opened his eyes, Sam was smiling down at him, his eyes bright with tears. "Hey."

Dean remembered the sensation of Sam dying, of being burned alive. Panic rose to the surface again. Sammy? Are you ok? Are you badly burned? He pulled against the restraints trying to get a better look at his brother, trying to see what damage had been done.

"I'm not burned at all. I wasn't actually on fire." Sam chuckled softly. The laugh turned into a cough. "So, yeah, Dean, I'm ok," Sam said, dropping into the chair by the bed. He took another deep breath. Dean felt the air burn a little in his lungs.

Yeah, sure you are.He rolled his eyes a little.

"I'll find the nurse to give you a little something for pain, ok?" Sam said, giving his arm a little squeeze.

I'm fine, Sammy.

Sam looked down at him with a little half smile. "That's not going to work right now, you know."

What?

"The lying to me, it won't work right now," Sam said, smiling. "I'll go get the nurse."

Dean watched his brother walk out of the room. Sam was walking very carefully. Yeah, the whole not being able to lie works both ways right now, I think.He relaxed a little, let the connection with Sam drift to the top of his awareness. Something is wrong with Sam. Something because of me. He could feel his pain reflected through his brother, the respirator moving air in and out of his lungs, in and out of Sam.What the hell did you do? Damn it, Sam.

"I heard that," Sam said, walking back in the room with a small red-haired nurse. She looked over at Sam with a frown on her face.

She walked up to the bed and smiled at Dean, dimples appearing in her face. "Your brother said you might need something? How's your pain?" How the hell do you expect me to answer? Can't talk, can't use sign language, any bright ideas? She twisted a syringe in the port of the IV. "We need to make sure you're comfortable as possible."Gee, thanks. Sam snorted. She looked over at Sam, then patted Dean's arm. "It won't be all that long till you're ready to come off of that." Yep, it'll just feel like forever. She smiled again and then walked out of the room, Dean watched her go.

"Don't even think it, Dean," Sam said with a sigh, dropping into the chair next to the bed.

How bad, Sam? He looked over at his brother. Sam had dark circles under his eyes, his breathing was off a little, he was in pain.

"Not bad, Dean."

You're lying to me. Sam? He stopped. How bad is he? God, Sammy, what did you do? Could he be dying? I felt him die, he's sick now. How bad is he? How bad will he get? Oh, god, as I get better will he get worse?Dean looked over at his brother. Sammy?

"Yeah, Dean?"

Are you…are you…?Dean felt tears in his eyes. Sam? Are you dying?

"No, I don't think so. I think my gamble paid off."

Sam? That was more of a growl.

"Later, Dean." Sam leaned back in the chair and rested his hand on the edge of the bed. "Nap?"

Dean nodded and let his eyes close. He lay quietly, "listening" to his brother. Trying to figure out how much of what Sam said was true. It felt like he believed it, although he is still worried about it. He is still a little scared about it. Sam, what the hell. I wonder how much of this he hears? He paused, Sam's thoughts were shifting, a background rumble of dreams. How long does it last? He drifted off to sleep.

The dream started simply, a soft autumn day, shifting to a sense of terror, of pain, of fear and uncertainty. Dread crept through, coloring everything with a wash of gray, tears like rain brushing the walls. The panic built, Dean watched as they tried to bring him back to life, then the desperate thoughts of his brother. Sam's realization of what had happened, his determination to fix it and the certain knowledge of his own death. Dean jerked awake, God, Sammy, I didn't realize…Sam opened his eyes briefly and smiled sadly. "Sorry, Dean," he whispered, then closed his eyes. Dean left himself drift off again, relaxing a little, letting the pain meds pull him back into a soft sleep.

When he woke up he was alone in the room. A wispy tendril of the dream wound through his brain. His heart started pounding. He was sure he was going to die. Where is he? Has something happened? Sam?

"I'm getting coffee, Dean, I'll be right back. The nurse said they are pulling the respirator as soon as I get back. I asked them to wait, I hope that's ok."

Can I have some coffee?

"No. I'll get you a chai as soon as they say it's alright."

I want coffee.

"Don't sulk." Sam said.

Not sulking. He looked up at the TV, it was on the History channel. If I have to watch that much longer I will be sulking. Why didn't he leave it on something that passes for decent TV? He tried to shift in the bed. The restraints still held him down. Panic flared a little. I hate restraints. Dean tried to calm his breathing a little. Hey, I think I am breathing on my own, mostly. Still hurts like hell. One thing at a time I guess.

Sam walked back into the room, the rich smell of coffee coming in with him. Dean sighed. It smelled good. A nurse followed Sam into the room. She was smiling the nurse smile. They all have that smile, every nurse everywhere. Hot, not hot, Heathers or others they all have that smile. It must be a class they take in nurse school. "The seven smiles of nursing" or something like that. Sam put the coffee down on the bedside tray and put his hand on Dean's arm.

"Ready?" the nurse said. Dean nodded. And it was out. She carefully fitted an oxygen mask over his face and undid the restraints. "There you go, I'll have them bring some ice in, how's that sound?"

"Good," he said, surprised at how hoarse his voice was. Of course, I just spent how long with a tube shoved down my throat? "Thanks."

"How do you feel?" Sam said, sitting in the chair and picking up his coffee.

"Fine," Dean said. He watched Sam close his eyes and smile.

"Yeah, fine, Dean. Me, too," Sam said, still with the small smile on his face.

Yep. I can see that. Or more to the point, I guess, I can feel that. And I know you are lying to me. Of course, I'm lying to you. This is going to be all kinds of fun. "Sam?"

"It's going to be ok, Dean. You're going to be ok." Sam sighed. "Thank god." Dean heard the last as clearly as if Sam had said it out loud, which he hadn't.

"Tell me about it," he demanded.

Sam looked at him with a sad smile. "Just like you told me?" The thought was clear.

"I heard that, you know," Dean said. "I'm sorry, I should have mentioned it."But I guess I thought it was the flu, or I was dead or I didn't want to worry you. I screwed up, ok? I admit it this time, I screwed up. Simple as that. Sam was still smiling at him. Dean wondered how much of that his brother had heard. Oh, yeah this is going to be just freaking fabulous. "By the way, Sam, what the hell is that around your neck?"

"It's a faerie wand. You have one, too. I needed matching pendants for the ritual, these were on special," Sam said with something of a smirk.

"A what? Wait, I have one of those things on me? Take it off." It burns, Sammy, it burns.

Sam rolled his eyes. "Cute. But I can't. Not till the spell runs its course."

"Or?"

Sam swallowed and looked away. "You die, Dean. I probably would, too." Sam turned back around, Dean wondered if his brother had meant for him to hear that thought. "It wouldn't be good."

"Death never is."

"Oh, you heard? I guess that will take a little getting used to."

"How much do you hear?" Dean asked.

"Mostly just this—I don't know—hum? Or rumble? I don't hear anything clearly unless it is directed at me, or if the emotion is strong."

"Me, too. How long does it last?"

"I don't know, Bobby might. I'll call him later and let him know everything is ok."

"Is it? Ok, I mean?" Dean asked, watching his brother, "listening" to him through the connection.

"Yeah." Sam sighed. "I think so."

"Think so? That doesn't sound very positive. Tell me about it." He felt the hesitancy in his brother. He knew Sam was ill, maybe getting worse as they spoke. His brother's breathing was a little ragged and pain was reflecting off of Sam like light on a winter lake.

"You aren't going to let that drop, are you?"

Well, what do you think, Sammy? I'll just let your attempted suicide drop? Yeah, not that drugged up.

"It wasn't suicide," Sam snapped. He coughed a little. "I had a plan, Dean."

"Well?" Dean was looking at Sam. His brother's eyes closed. God, Sam, you look as bad as I feel. Ok, reprieve for an hour or two. I want to sleep, too."Sleepy, Sam."

Sam smiled. "Yeah, me too."

Dean let himself relax.I am tired and if I sleep Sam will sleep. He sighed. I wonder how long my chest is going to hurt like this? I wonder when I get to leave? Dean listened to the TV for a minute until he fell asleep.

Sam managed to avoid the topic of the ritual for the rest of the day and into the next, but Dean wasn't going to let him get away with if forever. He had every intention of dragging it all out of his brother. Of course, I think Sam plans on a bit of dragging, too. I hear him grumbling sometimes when he's talking. Oh yeah, still fun. They finally gave him the go ahead to leave, on the promise of strict bed rest, several days sooner than he had hoped. Dean was up and dressed and ready to go when Sam walked in the room with two paper cups.

Oh, god, please let that be coffee.

Sam grinned at him. "Not coffee. The doctor says no caffeine until you are done with the meds."

Damn. "Thanks," he said, taking the cup and sniffing. Ok, doesn't smell too bad. I think I can choke it down. "Time to go?" he said eagerly.

"Yeah, everything is signed and ready to go, and hot Heather the nurse is bringing the wheelchair in."

"You don't have to say hot Heather, Sammy."

"I know, Dean, all Heathers are hot, right?" Sam said, grinning.

"Hell, yeah. Did I ever tell you about this Heather in Tucumcari?" And wow, what a Heather that one was. I might just have to stop by that place again sometime. He grinned and let a tiny little slice of that night creep to the top of his awareness.

Sam looked at him in disgust. "Stop that."

Dean laughed. Sometimes this connection is more fun than I thought it would be. He smiled as the Heather nurse came into the room. She smiled back a little, not much. Well, I'm still a little sick. Not quite back to full power yet. He dropped into the wheelchair, Sam maneuvered him out of the room. Dean waved at the nurses on the way out. The Impala was parked in the loading zone. Hi, sweetheart. He sighed as Sam stopped beside the car and pulled the door open. His brother gave him a hand up and Dean plopped into the seat with a smile. He still doesn't look very good, I'm not very good yet, so I guess that explains it. God I hope it does. Not that he can hide a lot right now. He leaned his head back against the seat. All that hard exercise riding in the wheelchair wore me out.

"Dean? We're home," Sam said, giving him a little shake.

Dean opened his eyes. They were parked in front of the motel. It seems like two months ago when all this started. Sam walked around the car and pulled the door open, offering Dean a hand to get out. He took the hand and let Sam pull him onto his feet, swaying a little as the blood rushed out of his head. His brother kept a steadying hand on him and steered him into the room, lowering him gently onto the bed. Dean kicked his shoes off and slid under the covers.

"You need anything?" Sam said, walking into the kitchenette.

"Do you have more of that chai?" Dean said. And then Sammy, time to talk.

"Yeah," Sam said, answering both. Dean watched his brother make the tea. Sam's hands were shaking just a little. It's worse than you are letting on, isn't it Sam? I mean, I know how it is physically, but there is something else, just under the surface. He quickly clamped the thoughts down so they didn't reach his brother.Sam picked up two cups and sat down on the bed facing Dean. He handed one cup to Dean and then sat, staring into his for a moment. "Why didn't you tell me the pestilence demon had gotten you?"

"I thought it was the plague rats, Sammy." Or I was going to die and nothing you could do to stop it. "And I did get better." Mostly.

"Right," Sam said, looking at him. "And then when you started getting sick again?"

"I didn't think…" Dean started, Sam frowned. Dean sighed. "Ok, well I thought it was just stress." Sam's frown deepened. "Alright, I didn't know what was going on. I went back and forth from thinking it was just stress to being pretty sure I was dying. Those five days before you called 911 it was getting increasingly worse. Ok? I didn't…I thought…" He broke off when he realized he was coming very near to shouting. "Sorry." Did my stupidity kill you, Sammy? The thought formed and floated to the surface before he could stop it. Sam looked at him for a long, long moment.

"What?" Sam said.

"Are you dying, Sam? I talked to Bobby and he said…" You see, Sam I called him when I realized a little of what you'd done…

"He's wrong, Dean," Sam said simply.

"Sam?" The time has come.

"To talk of many things?" Sam said. "Of shoes and ships…"

"Huh?"

"Sorry," Sam grinned. "When I realized you had been stung by the pestilence demon, I started looking for answers." Sam paused. "I'd just watched you die, Dean and I was a little upset, you know?" Dean blinked as the thought overlaid his brother's voice. "And I started to find them. I located several rituals that all seemed like part of one larger, older one. The first part required binding us together." He stopped.

You're on a roll, Sammy don't stop there. "Why?" Dean said.

"The rest of the ritual required an effigy."

"A human effigy?"

"Yeah," Sam said quietly. "The shaman becomes the effigy for the banishment and then the vessel for the healing afterwards."

"Yeah." That's what Bobby told me, Sam, right before he said the shaman dies. He felt tears pricking at the corner of his eyes.

Sam put a hand on his. "I'm not dying, Dean." He smiled a little. "I was kind of counting on the binding going both ways."

"What do you mean?"

"When we died? And they resuscitated you? It started my heart again. That's when I was pretty sure it would work."

"Sam?" I am getting the urge to kill you.

"Well, I thought that since my immune system was working maybe the antibiotics you were getting would work for me, even if my immune system was supporting yours. Which it was." He smiled. "Kind of like a bone marrow transplant."

"Yeah," Dean said softly. Oh god, does he…He shut the thought down before it could form further. "You thought?"

"Well, I was pretty sure about it," Sam said.

"Pretty sure?" Dean growled. Pretty sure, Sammy? You're lying, I was there in that dream remember? You were pretty damn sure you were going to die.

"I might have been a little worried, Dean. But it didn't matter." Sam's eyes were bright.

Damn it, Sammy, of course it matters. You were planning on dying. Not an option, Sam. Not ever. Dean wasn't sure if he said it or thought it, no matter how it came out he saw the words impact his brother.

"And do you think it's an option for me, Dean? Standing there watching you die when I could maybe do something about it?" Sam snapped, his eyes flashing with anger. The tears hovering at the edge of his eyes making the anger more apparent.

"Sam…"

"I wasn't even sure it would work, you know Dean," he continued. "But I had to try something. I had to." The anger drained out of Sam as quickly as it had formed, the wave of despair washing out of his brother took Dean's breath away. "They said there was nothing they could do to help, and there was something I could do." He sighed, his eyes meeting Dean's. "And I thought that if at least the binding worked…"

"What?"

"Well, you wouldn't be alone if you died. We'd at least be together." Tears had pooled in Sam's eyes and were threatening to spill over onto his face.

"Even if you died, too?"

"Yeah."

Dean was aware of an ache in his chest and a lump threatening his throat that had nothing to do with pleurisy or pneumonia or anything else. He wasn't even sure if it started in him or Sam. Damn it, Sammy. You can't do that kind of thing. You can't. I won't be the cause of your death. Please, Sam. I can't. The tears that had been at the corner of his eyes started creeping gently down his face. My fault. God, I'm sorry Sam.

Sam looked at him, Dean felt the connection hum a little as his brother met his eyes. Sam took the cup out of his hands before pulling him into a brief, tight hug. "Not your fault, Dean. I made my own choice." Sam stood and took the cups. "You have to admit it's kind of Hammurabian."

"What?" What, Sam? Hammu-who-bian?

"Hammurabian Justice," Sam said. "The original let the punishment fit the crime, eye for and eye thing. You didn't let me know what was going on and now…Well…You won't be able to lie to me about it for awhile, at least."

"Yeah, well…you can't either." And see, didn't even stick my tongue out.

"And if you try, Dean?"

"Yeah, Sammy?"

"It's chickens for you."

"Bitch."

"Jerk."

"Want to watch some TV?" Sam said, dropping down on the bed next to him.

"Not History Channel, please." Cause if you do, I'll kill you. He let the thought drift on the surface of his mind, Sam smiled at him.

"Boobahs?" Sam said with a laugh, flipping through the stations.

"Hell no. No Boobahs. I'm going to have nightmares about Boobahs for years to come. And I'll share the nightmare every night. Every night, Sammy, haunted by Boobahs."

Sam laughed. Dean leaned his shoulder against his brother's and let his eyes close. He sighed. "I'm going to sleep for awhile."

"Sure," Sam said, pulling the blanket a little higher on his shoulder. "I'll be here."

"Thanks, Sam." This was a little close this time, I have to admit. A little too damn close. I wonder how long the binding lasts? Is it forever? That might make life a little more interesting than before. He sighed a little. Yeah, too close this time. Thank you, Sammy. He felt his brother shift a little, leaning a little more against him. I wonder if he heard me? Doesn't matter. But if you ever try something like this again, Sammy, it's more than chickens for you.

He let himself drift off towards sleep. He was aware of Sam's breathing, the soft beat of his brother's heart, he could sense the tiny edge of pain from Sam, from himself. Dean paused, worried, a little panic creeping back into his mind. It's ok. His voice? Sam's? He sighed again and listened to the comforting rumble of his brother's quiet thoughts, allowing them to lull him into sleep.

The End

A/N II: Now that they are bound together I am toying with the idea of a sequel exploring that.