Title: In a heart beat.

Author:"Zenamydog"

Betas: My special friends "jdsampson" (first half) "luvsabitch" (second half)

Rating: PG 13.

Fandom: Supernatural.

Pairing/Characters: Sam/Dean

Warnings: Written through slash colored glasses. Spoilers though S3. Weechesters, but not under age.

Feedback: Like… YES PLEASE!

Disclaimer: Kripke and Singer own Sam and Dean… Damn it!

AN: Written for my wonderful friend "winchesterxgirl" who does so much for me. I just wanted to give her something small in return. Love you babe.

Summary: Sam is still planning to save Dean from his deal and he remembers the first time Dean would have died or killed for him.

NOW

"I don't care what Ruby said." Dean glared as he picked up the burger from the plate in front of him. "You're not going there by yourself."

"Dean?"

"Over my dead body!" Dean's tone was sharp. End of the story, sharp.

Sam sat back in the semi-circled booth and sighed. Shit. The only way to do this was to go alone. What had made him think Dean would cooperate? He was only trying to save his life, for Christ sake.

"I remember the first time I heard you say that," Sam remarked softly a few moments later.

"Said what?" Dean asked around the mouth full of hamburger.

"Over my dead body," Sam repeated. "Well… Maybe not the first time I heard you say it. But I remember thinking…" Sam looked Dean in the eyes. "It was the first time… I thought you meant it."

Dean swallowed as a grin crossed his lips. "Grade school in Vermont," he said, sure of himself. "You were seven. Daniel Spence and his two friends."

The soft smile pulled into a full-fledged grin on Sam's face… Dean remembered. He shifted, knowing full well that he would bump knees with his brother, across the table from him.

A warmth grew in him when Dean didn't move, instead holding his leg solid against the touch.

Sam picked up his fork and started to stab at the pasta in front of him. "I remember being terrified that they would kill you."

"Oh ye of little faith," Dean said by way of rebuttal. A small smirk crossed his face before he locked eyes with Sam.

There was a reverence in Sam's voice. "I remember you holding me, begging me to stop crying."

"That was only 'cause you were gasping for air, Sammy." Dean turned serious. "I thought with your sobs and the way you were breathing, you were gonna have an asthma attack or something." He waved a hand. "Your lips were turning blue."

"Yeah…" Sam said softly. "I remember." He couldn't help the whimsical smile or the far away look. Dean had drawn him to his chest that day and told him over and over again. "It's okay, Sammy. I've got ya. You're safe. They won't hurt you again. You're safe."

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THEN

"Sammy?" Dean said as he dumped his school bag on the wooden kitchen table and waited, frowning a little.

"Sammy?" Dean called again. Strange? Sam was always home early on a Tuesday. Dean had given him hell the last time he didn't come straight home from school. Dad's orders, Dean had barked and Sammy hadn't done it since.

This was a long stretch of staying put for them, eight weeks now and most likely another three, at least. Dean briefly wondered if Sam had made some friends. Maybe he was hanging out, playing Nintendo or the like.

Dean remembered Sammy's face. em "Dad's orders." /em Damn it. There's no way he wouldn't have come home straight from school.

Dean flicked the light on in the cramped little living room and scanned it as fast as his eleven-year-old eyes could. He was a hunter's son and it showed.

Nothing.

The small space looked as it should. Save for the fact that Sammy wasn't there, sprawled out, watching TV.

Dean stood poised as something coiled uncomfortably inside of him. Jesus, Sammy. Where are you?

A whimper from near Sam's darkened room answered that unvoiced question.

Urgency kicked in. Dean had opened up the blinds to their bedrooms before he'd left in the morning. So why was his brother in a darkened room whimpering?

Even at eleven, Dean had a natural stealth."Sammy?" Dean choked out as a whisper.

Dean had seen. Oh… yeah… Dean had seen. He knew what was out there. His mind flew to Fitchburg and the Shtriga. He couldn't let his dad down like that again. Not again. Shoot first… Protect Sammy… At all costs.

As stoically as he could, he moved back into the living room and retrieved the sawed-off shot gun his dad trained him to keep by the door. He'd spent time handling this weapon. He'd sawed it off himself. It felt reassuring in his hands.

Shoot first this time, he told himself again when he stopped at Sammy's bedroom door.

"I hate you! I hate you so much, Daniel Spence," Sammy choked out. Dean didn't have any trouble hearing the anger in his voice and relief washed over him. He knew who Daniel Spence was. He was in his history class. A real hero. Not. He and his two bully friends had a rep. And shit, that obviously included picking on seven-year-old kids.

"Sammy?" Dean moved inside and turned the light on.

"No," Sammy squealed as he covered his eyes in protest to the sudden brightness.

"Sammy?" Dean fell to his knees in front of his brother. He could see blood. "Sweet, Mary," he said. Blood was all he could see across his baby brother's face.

Sammy looked up and Dean put his hands on either side of the boy's face. "Is your nose broken?" He tilted Sam's head. "Who did this?" Dean demanded as he shifted Sam's head back to examine the other side.

"Oww," Sammy cried out in protest. "Take it easy, will ya?"

Dean smiled a little before standing and pulling Sammy to his feet. He wrapped reassuring arms around his little brother when he felt him trembling. He guided Sammy around his bed and down the tiny hallway to the bathroom sink.

Sammy watched Dean's reflection in the mirror as he busily got hand towels and then the bath stool for Sammy to sit on.

"I'm not high enough," Sammy whined. "I can't see in the mirror."

"Stop your complaining and let me get a look at you," Dean said as he wet the end on one of the face towels and dabbed at Sammy's face.

"Ouch." Sammy shied away.

Dean let out a frustrated sigh and leaned down to be at eye level with him. "Sammy," Dean said in his best authoritative voice. "You're seven now. I have to see what we're dealing with here. I have to clean all the blood off your face. I need you to be brave for me, okay?"

"Like dad?" Sammy's eyes widened a little and he sat up straighter on the stool.

It wasn't as if Sammy hadn't seen Dean patch their dad up before. "Yeah." Dean smiled. "Exactly like dad."

Sammy made a point of holding himself still. Well… rigid actually and Dean couldn't help but feel proud of his little brother. "So… You going to tell me who did this?" Dean asked in a quite tone.

Sammy sat for a long moment before he lowered his eyes and shook his head. A pout firmly fixed on his face. "I can't."

"Was it Daniel Spence?"

Sam looked up at him abruptly, fear flickering across his features. His eyes a clear affirmation, but he shook his head and lied… badly. "No."

Dean sighed and nodded. "Okay, Sammy," he said as he pushed his head back up, a little on the rough side. He pressed firmly on Sammy's forehead with his thumb when he applied the last butterfly dressing. "There ya go." Dean stepped back to examine his handiwork. "Couple of cuts… they'll heal and if you're lucky you'll have a scar. And your nose isn't broken, so…

"Why would I be lucky to get a scar?"

Dean grinned. Sammy was only seven after all. "Chick's love guys with scars," he informed with a flick of his collar and a raised eyebrow.

"They do?"

"Yep." Dean smiled and set about cleaning up the bloody cloths from the basin.

"Wow…" Sammy smiled fully as he moved to stand on the bath stool and examine his new found assets in the mirror. "That must mean all the girls love dad, then, huh?" Sam grinned back at Dean.

Dean raised an eyebrow. Good connection of dots by the little guy. "Yeah, Sammy. Maybe they do."

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NOW

"I thought dad must have been the handsomest man alive, for years after that," Sam confessed with a grin. "Always coming home with a new scar. I often wondered if he used to get hurt on purpose, just so you'd patch him up and he'd have a new trophy."

Dean gave him a disbelieving stare. "You thought dad got hurt on purpose?"

"Yeah, well…" Sam shrugged, his face flushing a bit. A year ago he wouldn't have ever seen himself confessing this to Dean, let alone actually wanting him to know it. "I used to get jealous, you know?" Sam kept his eyes on the fork he was stabbing his pasta with. "Whenever dad would come home hurt, especially if it was a bad hunt, you'd have to be at his beck and call for days. It didn't leave much time for me and I---,"

"Dude, I was beat and strung out after those times," Dean explained, guilt in his tone. "It's not that I didn't want to practice soccer or… I dunno, hang out, but---,"

"I know that, Dean." Sam interrupted. They were getting way off track. "I get that. I do. It's not my point, though."

Dean stayed silent. Momentarily vulnerable.

"Remember that time in Kansas. I was about eight, I think. I fell off the bank and into the Soloman river.

"Yeah." Dean nodded.

"Well… I kinda, sorta…" Sam hesitated. "Fell on purpose."

Dean leaned forward. "You what? You made me pull your ass out of that river. You almost drowned."

"Yeah." Sam couldn't say much to that. "I wasn't worried. I just knew you'd save me." He grinned and moved his knee in a playful gesture. "I didn't think---,"

"Damn right you didn't think," Dean snapped. "There was a huge undercurrent. You could have fucking died, Sammy."

"Well I didn't. You saved me and spent the next three days, taking care of me and not letting me out of your sight." Sam let the warmth he felt show on his face. "It was worth it."

Sam could see Dean trying to resist a grin. "Dad chewed me out big time for that," Dean accused.

"Well if it's any consolation, I did feel bad."

"Yeah, I bet," Dean said as he finally succumbed to the grin.

"The truth is, Dean. I needn't have worried." Sam met his brother's eyes. "You've spent your whole life taking care of me and not letting me out of your sight."

Dean averted his eyes after that statement. "That's my job," he deadpanned.

And that was his job, to look out for Sam. Right up until the moment he sold his soul for him. Now, all bets were off. It was Sam's turn to make looking after Dean, his job.

Sam put the last bit of pasta into his mouth and chewed for a second. "So… Would you have?" He grabbed the napkin and dabbed at his mouth.

"Would I have what?"

"Would you have really killed Daniel Spence?"

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THEN

Dean didn't have to justify cutting class the following week. He'd made it his business to research Daniel's timetable and discovered he only had half days on Tuesdays. He and his goons hung out on a corner Sammy couldn't avoid taking to get home.

When Dean turned the corner he made sure to stay in the shadows, he didn't want to be seen. He waited and as if on cue he saw Sammy, wide-eyed and clutching at his backpack.

Daniel smirked as the boy tried to pass them, moving as quickly as his small legs would take him. "What's the matter, Sammy?" Daniel said as he stepped in front of the boy.

Dean's gut clenched. He wasn't sure why hearing someone else call his brother, Sammy, made him so angry.

"Just leave me alone," Sammy whined as he tried to sidestep the bully.

"Just leave me alone," Simon, one of Daniel's friends, mocked. "That's not what you were saying at lunch time." He grinned.

Sammy's face flushed and Dean could see the tears starting to well in his brother's eyes. Lunch time?

Sammy slung his backpack over his shoulder and again tried to make his way around the three of them. He was shaking his head and Dean could see he was trembling.

It took all his will power to not intervene there and then, but he wanted to give Sammy the chance to stand up for himself. They had worked hard on different little tricks Sammy could do if someone grabbed him. Breaking holds and that kind of thing. Still… Sammy hadn't mentioned the lunch time thing and Dean wondered what that was about.

When again, Sammy's attempts to go around the boys were thwarted, Dean couldn't help the grin on his face.

"You're just a bully and my brother says that you should pick on someone your own size."

"Your brother?" Daniel smirked.

"Dean says you're nothing but a coward and if you didn't have your bully friends to back you up, then you would be nothing!"

"Really?" Daniel's face changed to a snarl as he grabbed Sammy by the scruff of the neck.

That was it. "Get your filthy hands off my brother," Dean snarled as he stepped out to be seen. His face dancing with emotions he didn't fully understand.

"Dean!" Sammy squealed and took the opportunity to stomp on Daniel's foot and then bite him on the forearm.

"Fuck!" Daniel released his grip and Sammy ran forward to wrap his arms around his brother.

"It's okay, Sammy," Dean reassured and put his arm around the boy's shoulder.

Daniel advanced into their space, shaking his arm a little. "You little asshole." He glared at Sammy.

A split second later, Dean shoved, putting himself between his sibling and the three bullies. "I'm warning you, stay away from Sammy." Dean took it up to them.

"Yeah? Or what?" Daniel grinned and then glanced sideways to make sure his pals were flanking him.

Dean could hear Sammy starting to whimper and sob. "Let's go home, Dean. I just wanna go home."

Dean turned slightly to look at his brother and Daniel saw his chance to take a swing, but Dean already had good instincts and blocked and countered. He sent Daniel flying into Simon and then spun to leg sweep the other eleven-year-old.

Sammy smiled and wanted to yell, 'that's my brother' when Daniel went flying forward. It was on. Dean was holding his own with the three of them. Arms, legs, punches. They threw it all at Dean, but he was a hunter's son. A trained weapon. He couldn't lose. No. Not Dean. He was a hero. Hero's didn't lose. Sammy knew that. But…

Dean had his hands full as two of the drones kept him occupied and Sammy didn't see Daniel sneak up beside him until he grabbed him around the throat. He squealed.

Dean turned at the sound of his baby brother, giving Simon the chance needed to floor and pin Dean.

Sammy's chest started to heave as the two boys took advantage and jumped on his brother. Punching and kicking until Dean could do nothing but block and cover his head.

"Dean!" Sammy cried. "No… Dean." Sammy was finding it harder to breath. Daniel's hand around his throat didn't help, but mostly the sight of his brother being beaten had something tightening inside his chest. It was his fault. He should have done what he was told and kept his mouth shut. It was his fault.

He could see the blood pouring from his brother's nose and ear. Panic rose like the bile in his throat and he started to cough and struggle to get the life-giving air into his lungs.

Dean looked up at Sammy, moving his hand just enough to see. His eyes widened when he saw Sammy's knee's buckle from under him. Daniel followed him down, not relinquishing his hold on the boy's throat.

Years later, Sammy would understand the adrenaline rush that had Dean on his feet and Simon and the other boy under the tirade of Dean's protectiveness. Dean snapped and the two other boys paid the price. Dean ramming one of them into the lamp post, knocking him unconscious. The other boy looked from his friend lying on the ground to Daniel and then back to Dean. He took off running.

Slowly Dean turned. His eyes all pupil. Sammy felt Daniel stiffen.

In a hiss like whisper, Dean scowled, "Take your goddamn hands off my brother." His voice so full of venom, that it even scared Sammy a little.

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NOW

"They left me alone for a whole week after that," Sam commented as he drank the last of his coke.

"Yeah… And you hid the next two from me. Dean grinned, but Sam could see the disapproval on his face.

"I knew you'd go after them. Guess I was worried you'd really hurt them. Or worse, they'd really hurt you."

Dean gulped down the rest of his Bud light and all but slammed it down on the table. Even after all these years, Dean was still upset that Sam would put himself in harms way to protect him. Not much has changed.

"You lied to me." Dean looked directly at him, a hint of accusation in his eyes.

Oh, yeah… Sam could see the turmoil on Dean's face. Nothing has changed at all.

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THEN

"Sammy!" Dean called from outside the bathroom door. "Come on, little dude. I'm busting here."

Sammy had taken to locking the bathroom door every time he used it lately and at first Dean had thought it was a 'growing up' thing. But Sammy had started to withdraw from him. Not seeking him out and spending a great deal of time reading in his bedroom.

"Sorry," Sammy said when he came out.

Dean watched Sammy scuttle past, hitching up his jeans and tucking his shirt in. "Hey," he laughed and pointed to the long piece of toilet paper hanging out of the back of Sammy's pants. "Thought you were past me having to clean you up, Sammy."

The young boy paled and Dean immediately became concerned. "I'm just messing with you, Sammy. You know that, right?"

Sammy nodded and did his best to smile, but Dean wasn't going to let this go. "What is it? Somethings wrong. I can tell."

"No, nothing." Sammy moved to make his escape, but Dean grabbed for him and caught the toilet paper instead. Pulling it free from his little brother's jeans.

"What the…?" Dean's eyes widened when at the end of the paper, there were droplets of blood. "Sammy?"

"It's nothing," Sammy said as he turned to run. "Just leave me alone," he called out over his shoulder and Dean heard his bedroom door slam.

His bladder was protesting, so Dean went into the bathroom and relieved himself. That's when he saw more splatters of blood in the toilet bowl. Sammy? Jesus! Dean zipped himself up and all but ran to Sammy's bedroom.

He didn't bother knocking, just entered to find Sammy lying on his side, knees to his chest. "Sammy?" Dean sat down on the bed.

"Go away." Sammy curled in on himself more.

"What's wrong? Are you sick?" Dean put his hand on Sammy's thigh and he flinched.

"No," Sammy cried as he sat up and shifted out of Dean's reach. "I… I'm okay." A blush rose in the boy's cheeks. "I'm just… "

"Just what, Sammy?"

Even the boy's ears were red. "I cant… you know… Can't go to the toilet properly."

"You're constipated?" Dean asked raising an eyebrow.

"Yeah, con..stipated." Sammy tripped over the word.

Dean laughed, more out of relief than humor. "Is that all? Heck, Sammy you had me going there for a moment. Thought you'd hurt yourself or something."

"Nah, I'm okay." Sammy laid back down on the bed.

"You will be," Dean said with a grin. "After a big cup of cod liver oil."

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NOW

"I can't believe you actually drank it," Dean laughed.

"Well if I hadn't you would have known something was up," Sam explained. "Spent the next two days on the toilet." He grinned.

Dean nodded. "I remember. You got really dehydrated." He motioned to the waitress for the cheque and shoved his cell into his pocket. "That's what clued me in. No way you should have got that bad if you were really just constipated."

Sam blushed. "Yeah… well, I guess passing out didn't help either."

That's when I saw the bruises." Dean looked at him. "I really thought they'd…" Dean stopped and looked at his hands. "…they'd hurt you."

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THEN

Dean was trembling with rage when he moved up behind Daniel in the school corridor. He was putting his books in his locker and didn't see Dean coming. He managed to get close enough behind him to whisper in his ear. "Today. After math. Behind the gym."

Daniel nodded, but didn't turn around. "Okay. Look forward to it."

The day clicked by slowly and there were murmurs though-out the school. Word traveled fast that there was going to be a fight. Dean was grateful most still had classes and there were only a hand full of kids to look on.

He spotted Daniel and his two goons immediately as the small crowd parted and he walked slowly towards them.

"Hey, Winchester," Daniel called out. "Didn't think you were gonna show."

When Dean got close enough, Simon stepped sideways to reveal another boy. He had Sammy by the scruff of his neck.

Dean's eyes widened as he felt bile rise up to his throat. This wasn't in his plan. Sammy wasn't supposed to be here. Sammy was supposed to be safe in his classroom.

"Let him go," Dean hissed out.

"I don't think so," Daniel smirked. "Ya see, he's our guarantee.

Dean locked eyes with Sammy and didn't move. "Guarantee for what?" he said, willing Sammy with his eyes to stay calm.

"That it's a fair fight, of course."

"Fair?" Dean glanced up at Daniel and then back to his brother. "Sammy? Are you okay?"

When Sammy started to cry and tried to wiggle out of the other boys grasp, Dean took a step forward. "I swear to god, Spence. You're going to pay for this."

"Ya think?" Daniel grinned and nodded to the boy holding Sammy. He opened his jacket to reveal the large knife hidden there. The crowd of kids gasped in unison. "Maybe we could give you're boy here a hair cut. Think he needs one," Daniel teased.

Sammy panicked when he saw the silver of the blade and he started to take shorter and shorter breaths.

"Over my dead body!" Dean hissed and Sammy knew that Dean had something up his sleeve.

It all happened quickly. Dean swung his backpack from his shoulder and grabbed the sawed-off. He had it cocked and aimed at Daniel before Sammy could blink.

"Whoa… Take it easy there, Winchester." Daniel was white as a ghost as he retreated a step. "Let's talk about this."

"Sammy." Dean held out a hand and motioned for him to come.

Sammy ran to his brother without any resistance from the boy who was holding him. "Dean," he sobbed as he put both his arms around his brother.

He could see the hard line of his brother's jaw as he glared at Daniel. He's gonna do it. He's gonna shoot him. Sammy chest constricted. He opened his mouth to beg Dean not too, but nothing came out.

"What did they do to you, Sammy?" Dean's voice shook.

"Please, Dean." Sammy cried. He felt a sudden wave of nausea that caused him to grab at his brother's waist to steady himself.

"Answer me, Sammy," Dean said keeping the sawed-off aimed at Daniel's chest.

"No, okay. They didn't do anything… Not really. Just…" Sammy pulled at Dean's elbow. "I wanna go home, Dean. I feel sick. Please?"

Keeping Daniel in his peripheral sight, Dean turned to Sammy and bent slightly to make Sammy look him in the eyes. His breath hitched slightly at the thought, but he had to know. If they had…

"Did they put their hands on you, Sammy? Make you…"

"Look," Daniel said with his hands up, palms forward. "We wont, okay… We won't bother him anymore."

"Shut up." Dean made a point of re-cocking the riffle, before turning back to Sammy.

"Make me what?" He was confused. He didn't know what Dean was talking about. It was even more confusing when he saw Dean close his eyes for a second and relief washed over his brother's face.

There was a tear in Dean's eye. He didn't like that. Dean didn't cry. He didn't want his hero to cry. It was getting harder to breathe and he started to cough and gasp.

His legs gave way beneath him. Dean grabbed him tightly with one hand and lowered him to the ground, kneeling beside him, but still looking daggers at Daniel. "Sammy, calm down. Breath. It's okay."

Sammy's eyes were starting to roll back in his head. "Don't shoot them, Dean. Please? They'll take you away to Jail," he managed to get out between gasps.

Dean looked up at Daniel and his friends. He un-cocked the shot gun. "Go!" he spat. "Before I change my mind."

They scampered off like the vermin that they were and Dean pulled Sammy into his arms. "It's okay, Sammy. I've got ya. You're safe. They won't hurt you again. You're safe."

Dean wrapped strong arms around him and whispered in his ear. "I'll never let anyone hurt you, Sammy. I promise."

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NOW

"A promise you've kept," Sam said. "Even when I died."

Dean shrugged, obviously ignoring the undertone in Sam's voice. "Dad came home and we moved three days later," Dean said wistfully.

"Yeah…" Sam nodded.

"You never did tell me exactly what they did to cause the bleeding and those bruises," Dean said. Curiosity on his face.

"You never answered my question." Sam met his eyes. "Would you have shot him if I didn't have that panic attack?"

Dean's mouth pulled in to a half grin. He didn't answer for a moment, just stared at Sam.

"Dean?"

Dean took in a breath and averted his eyes. "If they… If they had done, what I thought they had done…" He looked back at Sam. "Then yeah, Sammy… I would have pulled that trigger."

"Really?" Sam said with half smile.

It was Dean's turn to knock his knees against Sam's this time. His eyes softened. "In a heart beat."

THE END