. . .just 'cause. . .

A/N: Nothing from the world of Supernatural belongs to me. Here's hoping the writer's strike get resolved amicably and soon. Spoilers for Fresh Blood

". . .because I've been following you around my entire life. I mean I've been looking up to you since I was four, Dean. . . studying you. . . trying to be just like my big brother. So yeah, I know you. Better than anyone else in the entire world. And this. . .this is exactly how you act when you're terrified. And I mean I can't blame you. It's just. . ."

"What?" asked Dean glancing up at Sam.

"It's just that I wish you'd drop the show and be my brother again, 'causeā€¦just 'cause." Sam's heart showed through his eyes as he barely kept his tears in check.

"All right. We'll hole up. Cover our scent, so he can't track us and wait the night out here." Dean turned away.

Sam was shocked. Dean had actually listened to him. Listened and even if not agreeing with his brother, acquiesced to stay in hiding instead of hunting the newly-dead Gordon Walker. It was hard to figure out who was stepping into John Winchester's shoes more these days. Sam for being determined and mono-focused during their hunts, allowing his world to become more black and white while turning colorblind to all things grey. Or Dean for not allowing Sam the chance to voice his concerns and fears about anything.

Both men worked to blockade themselves in. Night fell and the stench of burning saffron, skunk cabbage, and trillium filled their motel room. Sam stood watch at the window while Dean wandered around the room. He'd sit and then stand. He was on edge; how could he protect Sam if he was locked up with Sam? He should be out there, drawing Gordon out to take him down. But Sam had begged him not to. Begged him to stay.

Sam. His arguments with Dean were fueled by anger, frustration, and rage. He'd lasted barely a week after learning the truth about the crossroads deal before arguing with Dean's decision. Why couldn't Sam understand that this was for the best? Dean was so tired. Tired of always being on the road. Tired of losing those he loved. Tired of watching Sam being beaten down by visions, demons, and the lifestyle their father had raised them to live. Tired of failure. But there was light at the end of the tunnel. Soon he could rest. He wouldn't have to worry about Sam ever again. His brother would be okay.

The Yellow-Eyed Demon was dead. Soon, Gordon would be too. With those two great dangers to Sam's life destroyed, Sam could be free. Dean ruthlessly squelched the little voice in the back of his head that pointed out that Sam would have no freedom. The past two years' actions had slammed shut the door on Sam's choices. The events in Baltimore, Milwaukee, Twin Lakes, and Green River had barred, nailed, and welded that door closed forever.

Sam could never return to Stanford to finish his degrees. He would have to start over. Not that that would be too hard for his scary-smart brother, but Sam would have to avoid the public eye and knowing their luck, some enterprising classmate would do a paper on current felons on the lam and discover he was sitting next to a wanted man.

No. Sam's life was ruined if he still harbored a dream of being anything other than a hunter. And even then, many in the brotherhood would want him dead if they knew what he had done. Dean, Sam, and Bobby, and maybe Jo if she'd help, couldn't really prove Sam had been possessed. Besides, who'd stop to listen; hunters seemed to be a shoot-first-ask-questions-later kind of people.

Looking over at his brother, Dean allowed his features to release their habitual cocky expression. His eyes took on a sorrow that mirrored the unshed tears from Sam earlier. Dean had always looked after Sam. And Sam had seemed to have taken it for granted. But outside the cemetery in Wyoming it had finally sunk in that Sam appreciated Dean and all that he'd ever done for Sam. That his younger brother was equally determined to take care of Dean. To see that Dean survived this fight too.

Dean's life without Sam was meaningless. Bobby had hit that nail on the head. He was incomplete without Sam. Dean's life, bought and paid for by John's sacrifice, had to save the one final symbol of their family: Sam. Sam was everything that was good in the Winchester family. Even when Sam was at Stanford, both older Winchesters had been proud of Sam's success while railing, aloud and silently, at his absence. Dean looked at his brother shadowed against the mattress. Sam would be fine; Bobby would take him in. They were kindred spirits after all, hunters and researchers both. Sam was...still Sam. No matter what that demon had insinuated.

Sam could feel Dean's watchful gaze on him, and it filled him with its typical warmth. He'd finally admitted out loud just what Dean meant to him. Had always meant to him. Winchesters didn't admit their feelings aloud. Oh no, that just wasn't permitted. Sam couldn't even remember when he'd stopped giving Dean hugs as a child. Their father had stopped all displays of affection with his sons long before that. It took a threat to their well-being to get some concern or display of affection. But from his earliest memories, the one constant in his life had been his big brother. The one person who could make everything all right. The one person who was now making everything all wrong.

The last thing Sam remembered before dying was Dean holding onto him and begging him to be okay. He'd held onto Sam when Sam had let go. Well, Sam wasn't going to let go this time. This time he'd hold on to his brother and nothing would tear them apart. Not Gordon. Not the hounds of hell. Not that nameless demon who held Dean's contract. Nothing.

Sam's breath hitched. Nothing Bobby or he had read gave them a clue to saving Dean. Time was ticking down, and they were no closer to a solution. "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known." That line which echoed from his freshman lit. class carried a new weight. Dean wanted that rest, even in hellfire, knowing he'd saved Sam.

Dean was terrified but Sam knew, given the choice again, Dean would choose that same path. But his brother would not travel it alone. They were brothers and would always be close. Sam closed his eyes in prayer that some solution would present itself in time. They had released John's spirit from hell. They would prevent Dean following in his father's footprints this one time. No matter what. Sam reaffirmed his own choice as he had every night since he'd learned the truth. Sam looked out into the night. Watching and waiting.

Dean's phone rang and jerked Sam out of his thoughts. Gordon had tracked them down.

I'd appreciate it if you would let me know what you thought of this little vignette.