Dean was at the end of his rope, and he had no idea how his dad was holding up.

Sam was being, above and beyond, a teenager. He'd be mopey one moment, then slamming doors and growling at people the next. Dean didn't remember ever having done something like this when he was fifteen.

Sure, the moving around a lot was a pain in the ass, but they were saving people. It seemed a small price to pay for that. And Sam could still enroll in the schools they found in whatever town they stopped in. (Though Dean didn't really see a point to it, but then again, he'd graduated last year, so he didn't really care one way or another anymore.) Kid was out of control, and he wished for the little boy his brother used to be, with wide eyes and absolute trust in both Dean and Dad.

Lately, there was little trust, or so it seemed. Sam would pick a fight before he'd agree that someone else was right. Dean knew that was the teenager inside of him talking; he'd felt the same way about teachers and stuck-up snobs when he'd been in high school. He'd never felt that way about their dad, though, not the way Sam did. It bugged him.

And if he wasn't angry, then he was dramatic and upset. He was constantly wanting to talk about his feelings lately, a habit he'd probably picked up from the girls at school. All "woe is me" type of stuff, except he hadn't said that actual phrase yet. If he did, Dean was gonna pour holy water on him.

Today, though, Sam was even worse. He'd come home from school already brooding, and then had shrugged Dean off when Dean had tried to ask how his day had been. So far, the only grace was that Sam had shut himself in his room, and wasn't coming out. He was still alive; Dean could hear occasional noises of someone moving around, but he wasn't talking or wanting Dean to talk. And THAT in itself was a miracle these days.

The phone rang, and Dean waited two rings to answer. "Yes?"

"Your brother home yet?"

Dean sighed at his dad's voice. "Unfortunately. Kid's been moping around even more so today."

"At least he's not angry, then," Dad muttered.

"You done with the gig yet?"

"No; I'm gonna need to do some more research before I really know what I can do here. The guy was cremated; doesn't leave me a lot of options. Give me two hours, and I'll be home. Handle dinner."

"Yes sir," Dean answered, already moving to hang up. Once that was done, he closed his eyes and savored the peace and quiet that was a room without Sam these days.

Then he rose and steeled himself to go deal with Sam.

He was seated on his bed when Dean came in, staring at the wall across from him as if it were a fascinating study. "Pizza or subs?" Dean asked, ignoring his brother's mood. Seemed fair; Sam had been ignoring him as of lately.

Sam shrugged but didn't move his gaze. "I don't care," he said quietly, and Dean resisted the urge to roll his eyes. As much as he loved his brother, as much as the idiot worried him, the attitude ups and downs were driving him nuts.

"Fine; I'm ordering a pizza with green peppers and jalapeƱos," Dean said, knowing how much the order would irk Sam. "And anchovies," he added a moment later.

Sam turned to him then, but Dean's grin of triumph quickly slid away at his brother's question. "Do we have any aspirin? Or other heavy pain meds?"

"Do we...Sam, that's the stupidest question you've ever asked, and you've asked some stupid ones. Of course we have pain meds," Dean said, before he frowned. "Why, you got a headache?" Sam being moody because he was a teen was one thing; Sam being moody because he was in pain was another.

"No, I just...wondered if we had any extras," Sam said. "Like I wouldn't be hurting you guys if I took some. To keep on me."

Dean's frown deepened. "You been having headaches at school again?" he asked, mentally going through every time Sam had come home with an attitude. Had it been because of headaches? Was he slacking that much at the big brother stuff that he hadn't even noticed his little brother in pain?

"It's just in case," Sam reassured him. "I'd just feel better if I had some on me, like the brand we trust, the harder stuff the school nurse wouldn't give me."

"Yeah, there's some in the First Aid," Dean said slowly. For some reason, he still felt uncomfortable. It was a good idea; sometimes Sam's headaches would pop into migraines before aspirin could be found, and then only the tougher pain meds would help. He couldn't describe the uneasy feeling he felt, but he stepped aside to let Sam leave, presumably to find the First Aid kit.

Dean watched him go for a moment, before heading to order a pizza.

The house was cold, colder still because of the restless spirit residing within. John motioned for his boys to move in to their designated spots. Dean took up his point immediately, with Sam following only a little behind. John took center, then paused, letting silence and stillness fill the air.

With a mighty heave he shoved his boot against the door, splintering the wood around the lock and opening the door wide.

The spirit howled from within, but John was already moving forward, gun trained on it. "Keep it back," he ordered, and his boys sprang into action. Sam's job was to keep it back from him while he found the book the spirit had died for. Salt would do the trick, and allow John to burn it and end the nightmare.

Dean's job was to keep the spirit back from hurting Sam. John never had to tell, and Dean never asked. That job had been implied years ago.

John dug through the bookshelf, pouring over the titles until he found the one he needed. He pulled it out and turned to find the spirit advancing on Sam and Dean. "Hey, you lookin' for this?" John asked, raising the book. The spirit paused, turning its attention to him.

John didn't even flinch when he flicked the lighter and set one edge on fire.

Instantly the spirit began to shriek, collapsing in on itself as its one tie to the world was destroyed. When the book was firmly alight, John tossed it into the nearby fireplace and watched it smolder.

"I love it when we win," Dean breathed out, grinning from ear to ear. John merely rolled his eyes and set about making sure the spirit was truly gone.

Satisfied that the room was in order, John turned back to the books; who knew what would help them down the road? "You ever wonder?" Sam asked softly while John was perusing the shelves. "You know, about what really happens when you die?"

John paused and slowly turned back around. Sam was staring at the center of the room where the spirit had disappeared from, an odd look on his face. "Ever wonder what it feels like to die? If it hurts at first, and then you just don't feel anything at all?" he continued.

John glanced over at Dean, who was staring at his brother with a growing unease. "There a point to this train of thought, Sam?" John asked, his words rough but his tone soft. He didn't like where Sam was going with this.

Sam glanced back at him, pulling himself from his musings with a surprised blink. "Not really, I guess," he admitted, rubbing the back of his neck with a sheepish grin. "Just curious."

"It better not be curious enough that you wanna test it out first hand," Dean joked, but John could see the same worry on his face, too. He'd come to the same conclusions, then.

Sam's face slid into an emotion so fast that John couldn't identify it, but then he was grinning again. "Why would I do that?" he asked, before picking up the container of salt he'd dropped sometime in the commotion. "We good to go?"

It was only after they'd started driving back that John realized that the emotion had been something akin to pain and wistfulness.

He also realized that Sam hadn't answered Dean's question with a no.

The door opened at last, and Dean tossed his magazine aside in favor of the little brother who was finally home. "Where the hell have you been?" Dean asked, glaring at him. "School let out over forty-five minutes ago; you should've been home half an hour-"

"I told you I had to stop for something before I left this morning," Sam said with a sigh, holding up a small bag. "Relax."

Yeah, right. That was easy to do, sure. Especially when Sam kept asking if they kept random things he could look at, like meds of various types and syringes and a single bullet.


When Dean didn't reply, Sam sighed again and set the bag down on the table. "Don't worry about me, all right?" he said quietly, turning to what he'd bought. "I'm fine, Dean."

"Sure you are," Dean snorted, but he turned back to pick up his magazine. When he glanced back, Sam was putting something in his pocket, and sliding a cardboard box back into the small bag. "You, uh, want subs tonight?" he asked as Sam went to toss the bag into the trash. "Since we did pizza two days ago."

"Whatever sounds good," Sam said with a small shrug, before heading to his room. The door closed, and Dean could've sworn he heard the lock slide into place. Couldn't be, though; they didn't lock their doors from each other. Not when they possibly needed to dash into a room to save each other.

He stepped over to the trash and began searching through it for the bag. He found it, shoved under several papers, when it should've been right on top, the last thing in there. His frown deepened as he opened it up to see what Sam had bought.

The cardboard box made him freeze. Mens' Razor Blades.

Oh god.

He dropped the bag and ran for the door, trying the handle. "Sam?" he called frantically, eyes widening when the door wouldn't open. Sam had locked the door, then.

"Sammy, answer me!" he demanded, trying to keep calm. He had to get the door open. That was the first thing he needed to do. Sammy, don't do this to me. Please don't do this. Oh god oh god ohgodohgodohgod...

He should've known. He should've known. Sam had been moody, but he'd always been moody lately. He should've known something was wrong the instant Sam didn't want to be the share-and-care kid he'd been lately. If Dean had even thought it was that serious, he'd have sat Sam down and talked to him, offered to let his brother spill his guts.

Did Sam know that? God, when was the last time he'd told the kid how much he cared? How much he loved-

"Sam!" Dean shouted, pulling at the handle. "Open the door, or I swear to god I'll knock it down if I have to!"

"Ever wonder what it feels like to die?"

"Oh god," Dean whimpered, refusing to give into the hysterical sob that was threatening to overwhelm him. "Don't do this Sammy don't do this-"

The door opened, and an annoyed Sam greeted him. "Dean, what the hell," he started, before Dean grabbed him by the arms.

"Where are they?"

"Where are what?"

"The blades! Dammit Sammy, the blades! And the pills and everything else you've been asking for!"

Sam stared at him like he'd lost his mind, which was funny, because he wasn't the one considering frickin' suicide. "Dean-"

"Don't 'Dean' me!" Dean shouted, fear driving his volume up. He backed Sam into the room, refusing to let go. He glanced down and twisted Sam's arms until he could see the wrists, which were perfectly unblemished. If it wasn't the wrists, then... His stomach tightened as he raised his head to Sam's stunned expression. "What did you take?" he yelled, his voice shaking. "What did you take?"

What did they have in the First Aid kit? Aspirin, various pain relievers, god, morphine...

"Dean, listen to me," Sam said softly, as if trying to calm a spooked animal. "I haven't taken anything, okay? I'm fine. Dean? Dean?"

Dean ignored him, turning instead to Sam's shirt. He slid the long sleeves up, examining the skin for any puncture wounds, but didn't find anything.

Hands gently grasped his face until he turned his attention back up to Sam. Sam locked his gaze for a moment, before deliberately turning to the right. Dean followed and found a small cardboard box on the desk. The box was divided into subsections, each one carefully labeled with an object inside. From his position, Dean could see the razor blade in one, a few pills in another. Various Methods Easily Found was written on a blank piece of paper that was taped on the top.

Dean turned bewildered eyes back to Sam. Sam sighed and looked down. "A couple of days ago, a kid at school killed himself. Shot himself between the eyes. Entire class was gearing to present papers and visual projects at the end of the week, and then Mark just..." He swallowed hard and closed his eyes. "I was going to do a report about law enforcement, but decided to do it on suicide, instead."

He glanced back up at Dean, making a face. "Everyone kept saying almost how practically difficult it would be for it to happen; that Mark did it because his dad happened to have a gun permit and owned guns in the house. I wanted to show them how very easy it was to get a hold of some basic stuff that could be used to kill yourself."

"A project," Dean repeated. His heart was slowing back down, and the adrenaline rush was leaving him about ready to fall over.

Sam gave him a small smile. "I didn't mean to freak you out," he said apologetically. "I really wanted to see how easy it would be, and it's way too easy, let me tell you."

"So you have no thoughts of..." God, Dean couldn't even say it.

Sam shook his head. "No; I wouldn't do that to you guys," he said. "I promise."

"Then why didn't you answer when I called?" Dean asked, glaring at Sam. "And why the hell did you lock the door?" Now that he knew Sam was okay, he was going to kick his ass out for scaring the living shit out of him.

Either that, or hug him and not let go. Kicking his ass was the manly approach.

Sam grimaced and pulled out a half-eaten candy bar from his pocket. "Bought it with the blades," he confessed. "And I locked the door because I was changing my clothes and didn't want you barging in."

Dean was so going to kick his ass, even if he could see now that Sam was dressed in his lay-around-the-house sweats. "Sorry," Sam added, biting his lip. "I seriously didn't mean to freak you out."

"No, that's fine, I was due a heart attack," Dean dead-panned, before he rolled his eyes and headed for the door. If he stayed, he wasn't going to be responsible for what he did to Sam.

At the door, however, he paused, turning back to Sam. "Can I-"

Sam already had the cardboard display in his hands, holding it out for Dean. "Explain it to Dad for me when he gets home, will you?" he asked. "I gotta finish my paper. This is due tomorrow."

"I will," Dean said. Sam turned to his desk, but Dean reached out instead, catching Sam by the arm. "Listen, know I bitch and moan about your need to share feelings like a chick-flick, but...if you do need to talk, about stuff like this? You can always come to me. I just wanted you to know that."

Sam slowly began to smile. "Dude, I've always known that," he replied.

Dean nodded. "Good. And this never happens," he said, jerking his head towards the box in his hand. "You don't ever do this. Ever. You hear me? The idea ever starts appealing to you, you come to me and tell me first. I mean it."

"What about Dad?" Sam asked.

Dean pursed his lips. "There won't be a need to tell Dad, because when you talk to me, I'll take care of it. Won't ever be an issue I have to take to Dad. Got it?"

After a moment, Sam nodded. "Okay," he said softly.

"Okay," Dean repeated. "I'm gonna call the pizzeria and order the subs. You want your usual?"

"Yeah; just let me know when it's here," Sam said. Dean let him go, and he turned back to his desk and notebooks.

The door was shut quietly, and Dean closed his eyes and rested his head against the wood. For all his hatred of 'talks', Dean would rather have Sam come and talk to him about feeling suicidal than suddenly walking in and finding his brother hanging from the ceiling, or with blood pouring from his wrists. The images flew through his head, and Dean shuddered at them. He didn't know what he'd do if anything happened to Sam.

Even chick-flick moments were needed sometimes; he was just glad that Sam knew that, had known that for awhile. Had known that Dean was always there to talk to.

He set the display on the table before making his way to the phone.

A/N: Despite everything that happens in season 1 and 2, nowhere do I see Sam giving up (except in fandom): he trusts Dean to make everything okay (we see THAT in Born Under a Bad Sign in season 2). Also, despite being shut down by Dean again and again, he still keeps talking to share his thoughts and feelings, because he knows that Dean's always listening. So...hope I managed to convey that.

Uh, and I should probably add why I've written multiple fics about Sam and suicide: one, I like hurting Sam and having BigBrother!Dean come to the rescue, and two, one of the kids at my church came to us, the Youth Leaders, with a blade and confessed to cutting herself when her parents started splitting. She gave it to us because she'd scared even herself by how far she wanted to go with it. That was about a month ago, and she's doing just fine. We talked to the parents, they talked to HER, and the divorce is actually going much smoother now. So. It's all good.