Chapter 9

The next morning Sam stirred on the bed, bringing a hand up to clasp Dean's, which rested on his shoulder, carefully away from his bandaged wound. His hand brushed Dean's forearm and his brother startled awake. He jumped off the bed as if Sam's touch had lit him on fire, before waking fully and realizing everything was over. An intense look of sadness crossed Sam's features as memories rushed back on Dean's reaction to his touch. I don't blame him. He should be afraid of me. He should hate me. I hate myself for not being stronger, not fighting harder to avoid hurting Dean. Tears leaked from Sam's eyes, and he knew he had to say something, anything, to ease Dean's suffering.

"Dean?" Sam's voice sounded foreign and raspy to his ears. Bobby was awake at Deans' fast movement and gave him a look as Dean shrank back to stand a few feet from the bed. Well out of Sam's reach even if he wasn't too weak to move. Bobby's eyes shot from Sam's teary, sad features to Dean's shell-shocked ones. Just what the hell did that thing put these boys through?

Bobby decided to break the silence as he stood from the bed, moving the short distance to Sam's side. He eased down, careful not to jar Sam. "How ya feelin', kid?"

"Sore." Sam said trying to make his voice sound normal while struggling to stop the tears that flowed. "A little thirsty." Bobby stood from the bed and started to move towards the bathroom. Dean shook his head and went in himself, returning to Sam's side with a glass of cool water and a straw from the basket by the coffeemaker. Bobby moved away and let Dean give Sam the water, noticing Dean's struggle to keep his hands from shaking.

"Sam, do you have any pain?" Bobby asked, again breaking the tense silence that reigned.

"Not really." He managed after swallowing some water. He sounded normal now, if maybe a little weak. "Can I sit up some?" he asked Bobby.

"Don't see why not. Just until you get tired though. I don't want you slouchin' and pullin' those stitches."

Bobby pulled a pillow from the other bed and waited until Dean eased Sam upright. He put the pillow behind Sam's head and fluffed the other one some. Dean settled Sam back and moved to pull away. Sam stopped him with a gentle hand.

"Dean, please. We need to talk." Sam said quietly.

"I know we do." Dean replied, glancing at Bobby.

"I'm gonna get rid of the plow truck and get us some breakfast. Looks like the crews have the roads cleaned up." Bobby shrugged into his coat and left the room as Dean moved behind him to wedge the table back beneath the doorknob, sealing Sam and him together, alone. Dean couldn't help the fear that moved through him. He hated that feeling and became determined to work through it. He moved back to the beds and sat on the empty one, facing Sam. He rested his elbows on his thighs and raised his eyes from the floor to meet Sam's gaze.

"Sammy…" He started. Sam interrupted him.

"Dean, no. Let me talk, please." Dean swallowed and nodded, falling silent.

Sam swallowed hard and said, "I know I scared you. I can tell by the way you're almost afraid to get within arms reach. I can see you're struggling to get past it quickly, but it's okay if it takes a while. I want you to know that."

"Sam, I…"

"No, Dean. When I woke up this morning I felt you near me. Your hand was on my shoulder and you were sleeping. I half expected you to be gone, to have left me because of what I did to you. I hurt you. I might not have been able to control what I did or said, but I said them I did them and I know the words hurt, as much as the actions. That's what they do. Words hurt. We've both been on the receiving end of that more than once. I just never thought I could do something like that to you." Sam struggled with the next words. "I hurt you and I don't deserve another chance but I'm asking you to give me one, begging you…" tears leaked from his eyes, "…man, you're my big brother. Please don't leave me. I don't think I could take it." He trailed off again, his tear wet hazel eyes searching Dean's green ones for what he so desperately needed to see.

"Okay Sam. Now it's my turn to talk. You just listen." Dean moved from his bed to where Sam was propped up on the other one. "I am your big brother. I am as much to blame for what happened to us as you are, and that is none at all. I picked that fight with you and it was stupid, taking a chance on going out in that snow. I did remember what happened in Montana all those years ago, but what I remembered most was the worry on your face the first time I woke up and couldn't feel my hands or feet. Then I got the fever, and Dad said you sat by me and fought to break that fever non-stop for the five days it took to bring it down.

I shouldn't have left you like that, with you sick. I have to live with that now and I will, but what I won't live with is you blaming yourself for what happened. It is no more your fault than mine. It was that thing and she is history. It's over, and we are brothers. We'll always be brothers and we are all we have. I'm not gonna leave you and I'm not gonna lose you." Dean sighed and met Sam's eyes, blinking back the tears that threatened. "We're goin' to Bobby's for a few days to let you rest."

"You need it, too."

"Yeah."

"So we're gonna be alright?" Sam asked in a whisper, also struggling to keep the tears from flowing.

Dean put his arm around Sam's shoulders and squeezed gently, still mindful of the grievous injury to his chest. "Little brother, we're always alright." Dean said with a smile.

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A/N: So there it is people, my 21st fic. Please hit the little purple button people! Let me know what you think. Thanks to all.

Kris.