"He's stable. Check BP."

"Solid. He's in the clear."

Sam let out a sob, leaning against the doorway. From behind him, Dean stood, watching his own body lay motionless in the hospital bed. Whatever that thing had been, trying to take his life, it was gone. Which meant he was safe for the time being; hopefully long enough to figure out how to get back to the land of the living.

"Sir? He's stabilized. You're free to sit with him again."

Sam only nodded, but didn't move even as the last of the medial personnel left. He was leaning against the doorway like it was the only thing keeping him up. "Come on, Sam," Dean said, stepping around his brother into the room. "I'm not gone yet."

He glanced back at Sam, who was still leaning. He looked exhausted, drained, and Dean didn't like the looks of the cuts on his face. He was nursing his left shoulder, too. Hadn't the doctors taken care of him?

Sam finally moved forward to the chair beside the bed, then stumbled two steps in. Dean immediately leapt forward to grab him, and watched as his brother slipped through his hands. "Dammit Sam," Dean cursed, feeling helpless as Sam righted himself. "I can't help you right now. You've gotta take care of yourself. Please, Sam, just take care of yourself this once, would you? Because I might not..." Dean trailed off into a whisper, swallowing hard. Sam was always focused on everyone else; he never looked out for himself enough. That was Dean's job.

And the possibility of Dean not being around to do that job anymore was too quickly becoming a reality.

Sam fell into the chair and simply stared at the gentle rise of Dean's chest. Machines, because Dean couldn't breathe on his own. This whole thing was screwed up.

A harsh sob had Dean turning to his brother again, who had his face buried in his hands. Dean slowly stepped over to Sam, gently letting his hand rest over where Sam's shoulder was. "You'll be all right, Sammy," Dean said softly, each one of his brother's sobs like a knife in his heart. He wished he could save his brother the pain.

He didn't think he could save his brother from the inevitable fall-out when Dean left for good, though.

The magnifying glass of the Ouija board slid over the single word Sam least wanted to see. Yes.

Sam leaned back, brushing his trembling hand over his face. "No," he said, before shaking his head. "No, there's gotta be something we can do. Dad would know." He pushed himself to his feet, wincing as he put pressure on his left shoulder. It still didn't feel right. Maybe he should've let the doctor look at it.

No. The doctors had other more critical patients they had to keep an eye on. Like Dean. Sam would be fine. So would Dean, if he had anything to say about it. He didn't care if it was a Reaper he was dealing with. They weren't taking his brother. Not when he'd just gotten Dean back.

Is it after you?


No way in hell were they taking him.

He turned down the hallway, bumping into a nurse as he did so. With his left shoulder, no less. Of course. "I'm so sorry," he apologized, trying to hide his wince.

It didn't work. "I really think you should let a doctor look at you," she said, crossing her arms. "You were in a major car accident, yet you've refused all medical help."

"I'm fine, really," he said, smiling at her. "If it gets any worse, I'll see a doctor, I promise."

The nurse didn't look convinced, but she simply shook her head and moved on. Good.

He was almost at his dad's room when he saw John step out, the bag of supplies in his good hand. Sam immediately ducked into the nearest hallway opening and watched. John made his way down the main hall, then quickly made his way down the stairwell.

Sam gritted his teeth. Dean was dying, and John was more concerned about the Demon than his own son. Sam should just let him have his macho showdown, then let himself get killed.

His chest tightened at the thought, and Sam started for the stairwell. No. As angry as he was at John, he wasn't going to let him die. He'd thought he'd lost him once before; he wasn't about to lose him again. Besides, John had been right: this entire thing was Sam's fault. If he'd killed the Demon when he'd had the chance, Dean wouldn't be near death, the Impala would be in one piece, and this entire nightmare would be over.

He pressed his back to the door, waited until everyone had passed by, then quickly slid through the door and down the stairs.

Dean slowly stood from his cross-legged sitting. Sam was already heading for the door, and Dean wanted to tell him to just take it easy, stop worrying over something he couldn't stop. Sam was going to run himself ragged at this pace, and he looked fairly ragged already.

He couldn't form the words, though. Not because he knew Sam wouldn't hear him, but because he didn't want to give up. He wanted to live so badly; he wasn't done living yet. Not by a long shot.

He could hear Sam apologizing for something, and then a soft female voice was heard, sounding stern. Dean frowned and made his way to the door.

The voices became clearer. "...major car accident, yet you've refused all medical help."

"You what?" Dean said incredulously, staring at Sam, who was giving her his patented 'Don't worry about me' smile. Dean's gaze narrowed. "You are so dead when I wake up. You stupid asshole; why the hell would you refuse treatment?"

"I'm fine, really," Sam said in his annoyingly calm tone. Dean wanted to deck him.

"Oh yeah, you're fine. You look like your face went a few rounds with a blender and lost, but you're fine," Dean snapped.

"If it gets any worse, I'll see a doctor, I promise," Sam said, causing Dean to snort.

"Yeah, right. You might as well have promised to bring her the frickin' moon to her backyard!" Stupid idiot had no intention of ever seeing a doctor.

The nurse moved aside without pressing the matter. "Oh come on, tell me you didn't fall for that!" Dean called out after her, before turning and jabbing a finger in Sam's face. "I'm so waking up just to drag your ass to see a doctor."

Suddenly Sam ducked down to hide in the opening for another hallway. "What the...?" Dean said, trailing off when he saw his dad stepping out of his room with the supplies Sam had brought him. He headed for the stairwell, and Dean watched him go with mixed feelings. He didn't believe that John was selfish enough to put an entire hospital at risk just to get revenge, but he didn't know what else John could be doing.

He turned to Sam and was startled by the rage that was so evident on his brother's face. He knew that the two were always confrontational with the other, but this went well beyond argument angry. There was pain in his expression too, though, and Dean wished for the umpteenth time that he was solid or that Sam could hear him. Anything to get what looked like perpetual misery off his face.

Sam moved forward, and Dean followed. He stopped for a brief moment outside the stairwell, and Dean's eyes widened. "Don't you dare go down there, Sam," he warned. "I'll kick your ass so hard-"

The door opened and Sam slid through. "Sonuvabitch," Dean cursed, following after him. It was bad enough that his dad might be in trouble and Dean couldn't help, but Sam leaping into whatever their dad was getting involved in? Not cool. At all. How the hell was Dean supposed to protect him?

They reached the last door at the bottom, leading to the basement, and Dean rushed ahead of Sam, needing to know if there was something waiting. Even though he knew he couldn't do anything about it, he still had to try.

The only room that was really down in the basement was the boiler room. From inside, Dean could hear a low voice speaking. John. There was a dim glow through the windows. None of it equaled anything good.

Sam had made his way to the doors at that point, and carefully pushed one door open a fraction. Dean could see John clearly now, kneeling on the floor inside an array of lit candles and various herbs. So not good. "What the hell are you doing, Dad?" Dean whispered.

John finished chanting and lifted something over a black fixture of sorts. Before Dean could say anything (not that it would've mattered), Sam slid the door open enough to get through and quickly hurried behind a large set of pipes. Dean swore but followed after, standing behind his brother. At the same time, John dropped whatever he'd been holding on top of the black fixture, causing it to explode into tiny fireworks.

The fireworks died, and all three waited with breaths held.

Silence echoed in the boiler room. Sam tried to control his heartbeat, which was pulsing wildly and felt like a jackhammer in his chest. Did he have any weapons on him? No, not even a handgun. This entire thing was a stupid idea. He was going to take a swing at John, once he-

"Hey! You can't be down here," a voice said, and Sam jumped, startled. A maintenance man was glaring at John. Sam wondered exactly how John was going to explain the contents on the floor.

"Upstairs," the man said, before turning away.

"Yeah..." In one swift move, John pulled the Colt from his waistband and had it cocked at the man. "How stupid do you think I am?" John asked.

Sam's eyes widened, then widened impossibly further when the man turned around with yellow eyes. "Well I'm not putting you down as the sharpest tool in the box, summoning me," the Demon said, smiling. Two orderlies stepped out of the shadows, their eyes black. John spared them a glance as they stood behind him, but kept his gaze focused on the Demon. "I have to admire your guts, John, but really, what were you intending on? Did you summon me to try and kill me?"

"No," John said, surprising Sam. Then why the hell had he summoned the Demon?

John stood for a moment more, then to Sam's shock, lowered the Colt. "I wanna make a deal," he said.

The Demon looked intrigued, and Sam knew whatever his dad had in mind, it wasn't good. "I'm listening," the Demon said, and it was smiling again.

"I'll give you the Colt," John said, and Sam's jaw couldn't drop any further until he heard John's next words. "But you gotta help Dean."

All of it was to save Dean. Why hadn't John just told Sam? Sam would've helped, would've made sure everything was in order and all the items were there, would've...

Would've been involved and John would've had both of his sons in danger. He'd been trying to protect Sam. Sam's eyes burned, and he was so wrapped up in his thoughts, he almost missed what the Demon said.

"No deal."

John looked as shocked as Sam felt. "So you don't want the Colt?" John said, attempting to recover, but Sam could easily hear the tremor in his voice. This was Dean's only shot, and they all knew it.

"Oh, it's a good deal, there's no doubt about it," the Demon said, leaning forward with a grin. "But you still need to sweeten the pot."


The Demon shrugged carelessly. "Oh, I suppose I could accept the Colt...if your soul came attached."

Sam froze. No. The price was too high. Dean would hate himself if John took the deal. He shook his head, feeling helpless to do anything. No, no, please no, we'll find another way Dad, don't do it, nopleaseno.

The Demon paused a moment as John grappled with the choice. Yellow eyes pierced through the darkness, and Sam inhaled sharply when they locked with his own. The Demon cocked its head, considering something for a moment, smirked, then turned to John. "Consider it for awhile. I'll be here when you decide."

John looked suspicious. "Take the time to say goodbye to your boy," the Demon prodded, and John stepped away, hand still wrapped around the Colt. Sam pressed himself up against the pipes as he dad came close enough to see him. John's gaze, however, was firmly locked on the Demon and the orderlies. Colt firmly in his grasp, John left the boiler room.

The Demon paused, as if listening, then turned to Sam. "Come on out, Sammy-boy. I think we need to talk."