A/N: Thank you everyone for reading and reviewing! I appreciate it so much. Thank you to Abni, Dennis, Manavie and TraSan for extra handholding on this one! AU. AU. AU. AU. AU.

Blood Brothers

Chapter Three

For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother
-William Shakespeare

The heater crackled to life, the sound startling Sam. He glanced over at Dean, his brother was unconscious, he'd gone back to sleep shortly after the phone call from Bobby. I wonder how long that goes on? As soon as Dean had dropped off, Sam had gone back to research. He'd been following the same thread as Bobby, the older man had narrowed down the search a little sooner. Sam found the works of Petronius and was going through them, cross-referencing them with other writers. A trickle of relief—something close to hope—was beginning to creep through his awareness, making him tired, elated and anxious to continue.

He took a break after three hours at the computer to make himself some food and prepare more blood for Dean. Sam let his head rest against the wall as the liquid filled the jar. I can't keep feeding him forever. I'll need to find something else. No, I'll find a way out of this.

"Sam?"

"Here, Dean," Sam picked up the jar and carried it out.

"What are you doing?" Dean looked from Sam to the jar, the tube and needle still connecting it to Sam's arm.

"Making milkshakes," Sam sat on the edge of the bed. "What does it look like I'm doing?" Sam looked at the jar, it was nearly full, and he was feeling a little lightheaded. He pulled the needle out of his arm, sealed the jar and began getting the clots out of the blood.

"Sam?" Dean asked, a frown on his face.

"Yeah, Dean?"

"Have you been…oh god…" Dean swallowed, then shook his head, closing his eyes. Sam could see his brother's jaw clenching, tears were seeping out of Dean's eyes. Dean swallowed again and opened his eyes. "Your blood, Sammy? Gross."

"I thought it would make a nice change," Sam said, playing along with Dean's attempt at normal.

"Change from what?" Dean said, watching Sam swirl the blood. Tears were still running down Dean's cheeks.

"Well I called Bobby and asked him about the first feed, you know," Sam said, keeping his voice light. Oh god, Dean, I'm so sorry.

"Yeah?"

"And I asked him, you know…" He said I had to feed you human blood or you'd die, Dean. I couldn't let that happen. I know you'd want to…but I couldn't.

"Oh, dude, not like Renfield?" Dean asked, his voice rising.

"Well…Bobby seemed to think…" Sam said, getting up to decant the blood into another jar, and then pouring some into the mug.

"Bugs, Sammy? Please tell me it wasn't bugs."

"Sorry, Dean, I couldn't think of anything else, although I did see a mouse." Sam sat on the bed.

"Mouse? Bugs?" Dean was frowning. "That's just gross." Sam slid his hand behind Dean's head. "Sammy…"

"You have to feed, Dean, please," Sam said, hearing the desperation in his voice. Please, Dean. "Just give me a little more time to chase this cure down." He held the cup in front of Dean so his brother could smell the blood, ready to force him to feed again if needed. Dean pressed his head into Sam's hand, turning away from the cup, his lips pressed together. "Please, Dean."

"Sam…" Dean swallowed, Sam heard a small growl deep in Dean's throat.

"I'll find a cure, I just need time," Sam pleaded.

"I…Oh god, Sam…I…" Dean kept his face turned away from Sam. Dean was trembling, the growl becoming more pronounced. "Will you…"

"What?" Sam said gently.

"Close your eyes? Or look away? Please."

I did this, I have to be able to face it, Dean, but…"Okay." Sam closed his eyes as he held the cup.

Dean growled, Sam heard his fangs clink against the rim of the cup. "I'm sorry," Dean whispered. Sam tipped the cup and Dean drank, his growl subsiding as he fed. "Done," Dean said, his voice strangled. Sam opened his eyes. Blood had run down the side of Dean's face. Sam went into the bathroom, wet a washcloth, then cleaned the blood off his brother's face. Dean closed his eyes, a look of desperate agony on his face. "I'm sorry," he said again. "You shouldn't…"

"You always were a messy eater, Dean. Remember that time we stopped at the pizza place in Utah?"

"Sam…"

"And you ended up with salami pizza all over yourself? Dad was pissed. We'd just gotten new clothes."

"I seem to remember you having a little war with the salad bar, Sam," Dean said, opening his eyes and smiling a little at Sam.

"The ladle got stuck in the salad dressing," Sam said as he got up.

"Where are you going?" Dean asked, panic in his voice.

"Just to get rid of this washcloth and grab something to drink." Sam poured himself a glass of orange juice and grabbed a couple iron pills. "Doctor Dave said it helps to take iron with vitamin C."

"Doctor Dave?"

"I needed to know…" Sam stopped as a pained expression crossed Dean's face. "Yeah, Dr. Dave."

"He's always helpful," Dean said softly.

"Yeah. Dean? I've been following up on Bobby's research. I think he's on to something with this."

Dean shook his head, shifting against the chains that held him pinned to the bed. "Don't you think if there was a cure we'd have heard about it?"

"I don't think so. Remember dad thought vampires were extinct. There was no reason to look for a cure." Sam shrugged. "Besides…"

"Vampires are monsters and no one wants to cure a monster? Kill is the cure, Sam." Dean tried to sit up.

"We need to give this a chance, Dean."

"I'm not going to live like this, a monster feeding on human blood."

"You're not a monster," Sam said firmly. "You never will be, Dean. You've fought against evil your whole life…Lenore lived on cow's blood."

"Cow's blood? Gross."

"You like your steak pretty rare, Dean. There's not much difference between a bloody steak and some blood."

"There is a hell of a difference, Sammy, and you know it," Dean shouted, pulling against the chains.

"Just give me a little time, Dean, please. I've found someone who I think can help. A priest, he's written extensively on the works of sixteenth century alchemist Petronius and the occult. We can be to him in about five hours." Sam put his hand on Dean's shoulder. "Please."

"No, Sam, there is no cure, just get it over with." Dean shrugged. "Hell gets me a little sooner than we planned. What's the difference?"

No, I'm going to figure this out. I'm going to get you out of this and that deal, Dean. You hear me? DO YOU?? "Okay, but before I do, I have to ask you a question. If it were reversed, if it were me there and you here, what would you do, Dean? If you were sure there was a cure within reach?"

Dean met his eyes. "Not fair," Dean said, anguished.

"Five hours, Dean, maybe a few more…"

"Five hours. And if there is no cure, Sam, you have to promise me…"

Please don't ask, Dean. Please. "What?"

"Promise me you'll end this."

"Dean…"

"Promise me."

"If there is no cure, Dean, I promise you I won't let you become a monster."

"Thank you," Dean said, relaxing again. "I'm getting sleepy."

"You need to sleep? Okay, let's get you out to the car, then you can sleep while I drive."

"What about sunlight?"

"It's one in the morning. We have enough time to get there and get you into a room before dawn." Sam pulled the key out of his pocket and undid the lock. He carefully unwound the chain and helped Dean up. His brother's legs buckled when he stood. Sam supported him out to the car.

"Chain me, Sammy, just in case," Dean said. "I think if you put the chains around the seat it'll be enough," he muttered drowsily.

"I'll take care of it, Dean, sleep, okay?"

"Nice to be in my baby last more time," Dean said, letting his head drop against the seat. "Thank you."

"It's not the last time," Sam said softly. He got the chain from the room and wound it around Dean, then put a blanket over his brother. Sam quickly packed the car and pulled out, heading out in search of a cure.

Dean slept most of the way, waking briefly to mutter something about the music, then drifting off again. Sam would put his hand on Dean's shoulder until his brother dropped back to sleep. The first tiny sliver of dawn was in the eastern sky when Sam pulled off the highway at a small motel. Took closer to six hours. He checked in and managed to get Dean into the room before his brother was awake.

"Sam?" Dean said, sitting up as Sam carried the last of their things into the room.

"Yeah?"

"I…" Dean looked away. "I…"

He needs to feed. Sam poured some blood into a plastic cup and carried it to Dean. "Here," he said, handing his brother the cup. Dean took it without looking at Sam. "I'll just unpack a couple of things, okay?" Sam turned his back on Dean and walked to the table, staring into his bag. I have to do this, I have to. I can't…

"Done," Dean said. Sam turned to face him. "When are you leaving?"

"Leaving?"

"To talk to the priest?" Dean's voice was bright, a smile lit his face.

"In a few minutes," Sam said.

"Oh, good, I'll just kick back and watch a little TV."

You think you can fool me? "Dean?"

"Yeah, Sammy?" Dean's smile widened into a grin, false, pained.

"When I leave you're going to kill yourself aren't you?" Sam walked to the bed, his eyes never leaving Dean's.

"Nah, Sammy. How would I do that? Beheading's the only way." He was smirking, a dark shadow in his eyes.

"You're lying."

"No, you're nuts. How would I do it?" Dean forced a laugh. Sam could hear the anguish behind it, the panic, the pain. "Put my head under a train or something?"

That's precisely what I think you'll do. Dean, you said you'd wait. "I should have known."

"Known what?"

"That you acquiesced too easy."

"Acquiesced? Who talks like that?" Dean was grinning, one eyebrow quirked up.

"You're lying, Dean," Sam sighed. "I can see it on your face."

"No, you can't."

"Yes, I can."

"No, you can't."

"Yes, I can."

"Bitch," Dean said, his voice pained.

"Jerk," Sam answered. Dean moved so quickly that Sam barely had time to react. Luckily I was expecting this. I know you, Dean. Sam managed to stop his brother at the door, shoving the syringe he'd hidden in his hand into Dean's neck. Oh god, I'm sorry, Dean.

"Sammy?" Dean said as his legs gave way.

"Sorry," Sam whispered as he helped Dean back to the bed. "Does it hurt?"

"Not much." Dean dropped onto the bed.

"Sorry," Sam said again. "I need time, Dean."

"Sam…" Dean's eyes closed.

"I'll be back in an hour," Sam said, grabbing another syringe from his bag. He pushed the second dose of dead man's blood into Dean's arm. "I told you I need a little time." Sam waited until he was sure Dean was out before chaining his brother to the bed. "I'm sorry," he said again, aware tears had gathered in his eyes. Oh god, please let this be a cure. "I'll be back, wait for me."

Sam found the church at the edge of town, the small structure was nestled up against the abbey's wall. The church was open when Sam tried the door and he walked into the vestibule. It was dim inside. Candles glittered from each side of the chapel. There were several people scattered throughout the pews, most holding rosaries, silently repeating prayers. Sam wandered towards the front of the church towards a man in a black cassock standing in front of the altar.

"Excuse me?" Sam said softly, his voice echoing in the quiet chapel.

"Yes?" The man turned to face him, he didn't look much older than Sam.

"I'm looking for Father Stephen Blake."

The young man looked at him for a long moment, then smiled gently. "Of course, follow me," he led the way to the back of the church, then out a door into a bright garden. Sam followed him as he led the way through the abbey grounds. He finally stopped in front of a door at the back of the garden, rapping on the door. "There is someone here to see you."

"Don't stand outside the door waiting, Thomas," a deep voice said. The door opened. "How many times have I told you?" The tall man standing in the door smiled at Sam. "Come in. Can you get some coffee for our guest? It looks like he might need some." He grabbed Sam's arm and pulled him into the room, steering him towards a large wingback chair. "Sit down," the man said kindly. "I'm Stephen Blake."

"Sam Winchester," Sam said, looking around the room. It was lined with bookcases. A massive desk sat against the back wall, a computer on the desk, a large volume sitting open beside the keyboard. Blake sat down across from Sam. He looked to be in his late forties or early fifties. Bright green eyes sparkled from beneath dark eyebrows, his short hair had white in it.

"What can I do for you, Sam Winchester?" Blake frowned. "Winchester? You aren't related to John Winchester, are you?" He suddenly beamed at Sam. "Of course you are, I can see it in your face. His sons…Sam and Dean, right?"

Sam felt a smile on his face. "Yes, sir. He was my father."

"Was?"

The smile faded. "He died last year."

"I'm so sorry. I hadn't heard." Blake was interrupted by a tap on the door. "How many times do I have to tell you to just come in, Thomas?" he roared. The door opened and the young man came into the room. He put a coffee pot and a cup on the table beside Sam and quietly left. "New recruit," Blake said as Sam poured himself a cup of coffee.

"New recruit?"

"He's just joined the order and is still a little in awe of the whole thing, I think." He leaned back in his chair. "What brings you to me, Sam?"

"Father Blake…"

"Stephen," he corrected gently.

"I wanted to talk to you about Petronius." Sam smiled.

"Ah. The alchemist who called himself after Nero's arbiter of taste and elegance. Bloodthirsty bastard."

"Petronius?"

"Nero."

"Oh," Sam said. "I read your treatise on the works of Petronius…"

"My god, you are ambitious, aren't you?"

"Not really. I wanted to know more about the cure…"

"He lists about a hundred…I think he even has a cure for wobbles and thrumps in there somewhere."

"Yes, I know. But I wanted to know about the cure for vampirism."

"Ah, yes, he did think he'd found a cure," Stephen laughed.

"Is there a cure?" Sam asked.

"Why would you want to cure a vampire, Sam? They're monsters, bloodsucking fiends."

"Is there a cure?" Sam repeated.

The laughter died from Stephen's eyes. "Why?"

"I…" Sam stopped.

"Sam? Why do you need a cure?" he asked gently, his eyes full of knowing compassion.

"Dean," the word escaped from Sam's mouth unbidden.

"Dean? Your brother? What's happened?"

"We were hunting a vampire, a hunter was turned, a hunter who wanted me dead…" Sam tried to stop the words, but they welled up and out of him. "I killed him. I got blood on my hands. Dean had been bitten, and when I checked the wound on his neck…" When I checked his neck…Oh god, I killed him. I did it. Dean, I'm so sorry.

"You infected him," Stephen said simply.

"I didn't realize…I think I was still…We'd gotten back to our room and I realized he'd been hurt…"

"Back to your room? It didn't happen immediately?"

"No," Sam frowned.

"How long until you knew Dean had been infected?"

"About half an hour, I guess. He was drinking…" Sam looked at him.

"It must have been because the blood was congealed. Usually it happens much faster. Interesting. You're sure?"

"Yes," Sam said, tears gathering in his eyes. Of course I'm sure. I did it, I waited while he died, I fed him my blood when he woke up. "I have to find a cure. Was Petronius right?" Sam asked desperately. Stephen looked away, staring at the ceiling. "Please." The man didn't answer, instead he got up and paced away towards the bookshelf. He pulled a book down and carried it to the desk. Sam watched him for a minute before standing and walking over to the desk. "Was Petronius right?" Please, just tell me. Please.

Stephen looked up and met his eyes. "He thought he'd found it…" He flipped a page over, Sam looked down at the handwritten page, alchemist's symbols covered the ancient vellum. "He was so sure…" Stephen laughed, it had none of the humor it had before, instead it was bitter, dark.

"Is it there cure?"

"He was so sure," Stephen said, turning back to the bookshelves. "So sure. Immortality, Sam…"

"Is there a cure?" Sam asked again, hearing desperation in the question. His heart was slamming against his ribs as he asked, hope warring with despair.

"No," Stephen said softly.

Sam looked down at the desk, tears running out of his eyes. "Are you sure?" he whispered. How can you be sure. You could be wrong, you don't know…

"Yes," Stephen said. "I'm sure."

"I thought it might be a problem with the translation I had," Sam said to the table.

"What?" Stephen turned. "You knew?"

"I suspected, but I hoped…" I hoped I hadn't killed Dean. But I did, how do I fix this? How can I fix this? Oh god, Dean, I'm so sorry.

"If you knew, why did you come here?"

"I convinced myself I was mistaken. That my translation was wrong because I didn't have a good copy of the text." Sam was looking at the desk, he realized that the book in front of him looked familiar. He pulled it towards him. "This looks like…" Sam sank down into the chair in front of the desk. "This looks like an original copy," he said, excited.

"It is," Stephen said.

"Then maybe there is a cure, maybe it's here."

"No, Sam. It doesn't work."

Sam ignored the priest, flipping to the front of the book. "I wondered why he was even looking for a cure at all. Most people don't even think about it. Kill is the cure," Sam echoed his brother's words.

"He had a reason," Stephen said.

Sam looked at the notes in the front of the book, trying to piece together the Latin. He turned a page and read more, slowly deciphering the alchemical symbols on the page. The next page he just glanced at, a woodcut of Petronius and the title of the work. He moved on, then something stopped him. He flipped back and stopped. Sam took a deep breath and glanced around the desk, letting his eyes slide over the handwritten notes scattered across the surface. He looked up and met Stephen's eyes.

"He had a reason," Stephen repeated.

"You…You had a reason," Sam stated.

"Yes." He sat in the chair across from Sam.

"Why?"

"Immortality, Sam."

"But…I thought…"

"Oh, you thought right, but immortality varies."

"What do you mean?" Sam asked, idly flipping through the pages without really looking at them.

"The nature of the soul," Stephen said. "It was quite the debate back then, the nature of the soul. So many ideas…you know women barely made it out of one church council with an immortal soul? They were trying to decide if women had souls like men or like animals…" Stephen shrugged. "Sorry, interesting point, but…the nature of the soul. Immortality differs based on that."

"On what?"

"The human soul enjoys immortality in the afterlife, for better or worse, heaven or hell, but lives on in the world beyond, right?"

"Yeah," Sam said. The soul lives in hell forever, slowly burning away all humanity…

"The vampire has an immortal soul as well, but it is, for lack of a better term, a material soul."

Sam raised his eyebrows. "Sorry?"

"Okay, obscure theology really. What I mean is that the vampire's soul is tied to this earth. You trade immortality in the other world for immortality in this world. If the vampire dies, his soul ceases to exist."

"So why look for a cure?"

"I wanted the other immortality," he smiled gently. "I still do."

"But Petronius—you—were so sure about the cure."

"I was, but it's not a cure."

"How can you be sure?" Sam demanded.

"I experimented."

"On who?" Sam paused, looking at Stephen. "On your own kind?"

Stephen smiled, a bitter, feral smile. "I'm a bit of a monster, you know, Sam. I'm sorry about your brother. You can bring him here, my brothers here understand, they'll help."

"They know about you?" Sam frowned. "I thought vampires…Well, I thought crosses…"

"Crosses and holy water?" Stephen asked, amusement glittering in his eyes. "Yeah, holy water works for most things, and I keep my hands out of it most of the time, but it's not really a deterrent." He laughed. "I read one theory that it wasn't only crosses, but any sacred symbol. I've often wondered if it was one of us who started that rumor." Stephen sighed sadly. "My kind has all but ceased to exist, immortal souls flitting out of existence."

"There's no cure," Sam said softly, trying to stop the tears. Oh god, Dean. A stray thought, something that had been there, but only now managed to worm its way free to float to the top of his awareness appeared. He looked up at the priest. "Stephen…"

"Yes, Sam?" He looked at Sam with a gentle smile on his face. Sam could see the weariness behind the man's eyes, the long years of existence. "What do you want to know?"

The sun was beginning to break through the cloud cover when Sam pulled up in front of the motel. He got out of the Impala and watched one bright golden patch chase the shadow he was standing in away. Sam closed his eyes and turned his face to the sun, letting it warm him, the light bright blood-red against his closed lids. He sighed and pushed himself away from the car, opening the door he automatically checked on Dean, his brother was still unconscious. Good.

Sam grabbed his collection jars, the tube and a fresh needle. He went into the bathroom and sat down on the closed toilet, swaying a little. Lack of sleep and blood loss might be catching up with me. He got up and moved to the floor, bracing his back against the tub. Sam set the alarm on his phone and let his eyes close, dozing, but awake enough to keep squeezing the ball in his hand. When the alarm beeped, he woke up enough to change jars and went back to dozing. The second beep of the alarm pulled him out of a nightmare of fangs and blood, grief and despair. He realized tears were running down his face as awareness crept in.

After processing the blood, he carried it out to the small refrigerator in the room. A low moan came from the bed. Dean was beginning to stir. Sam walked over to the table and looked in his bag, the room swimming around him. Might need to sit down, I'll grab this…He opened a coke and took a drink, the cool liquid seemed to go straight to his head, but the sugar stopped the room's movement.

Sam sat down on the edge of Dean's bed. "Dean?"

"That shit hurts, Sam," Dean groaned.

"Sorry." I had to, you would have been dead when I got back and there would have been no hope for a cure. Oh god, Dean…

"How long was I out?"

"About four hours. I gave you a second dose to make sure."

"Make sure of what?" Dean opened his eyes and frowned at Sam.

"Make sure you wouldn't wake up and try and kill yourself." What do you think I meant?

"Would have saved you the trouble."

"I had to know about the cure, Dean," Sam said, anger curling through his chest. "I had to find out if there was a way to fix this."

"Is there?" Dean looked at him.

"Dean…"

"Was it a cure?" Dean asked.

"I talked to Stephen—Stephen Blake, the priest I told you about—it's not a cure. Not yet. He's still looking."

"Not a cure? Told you. Why the hell would anyone look?"

"He wants the cure, Dean. He's a vampire," Sam laughed softly.

"That's not funny."

"It's a little funny, Dean. He's Petronius."

"Didn't you say Petronius…But that means…"

"Yeah," Sam said softly. "I talked to him for a long time."

"He's a monster, Sam. Like me, like Gordon."

"He's not a monster, you're not a monster, you never will be, you fought evil…"

"So did Gordon, Sam," Dean snapped.

"Face it, Gordon was a monster long before he was turned, Dean. Look at Lenore, look at Stephen. You can exist like this and not be a monster."

"No."

"Dean, there's something…I asked…" Sam stopped. How do I convince him?

"A monster's a monster, Sam. You have to kill me."

"I already did," the words snapped out of Sam, harsh, bitter.

"What?"

"I killed you, Dean. I felt your heart stop," Sam said, angry desperate tears forming in his eyes.

"No…" Dean paused. "You need to kill me now."

"Don't you get it?" Sam shouted, standing and pacing away. "Don't you see?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Dean, you died. You're dead."

"And? See, monster."

"Can't you see?" Sam was yelling.

"See what? What the hell are you talking about?"

"THAT!"

"WHAT?"

The anger drained out of Sam, leaving him exhausted. He dragged himself over to the bed and put his hand on Dean's chest. "You died."

"Yeah?"

"Stephen told me…I asked…"

"Sam?" Dean asked gently, acknowledging Sam's distress.

"The deal, Dean. I would never have done this, but Dean. You died, you're dead."

"Got that, you've said it three times."

"And you're still here," Sam said softly.

"What?"

"The vampire's soul is different. Their immortality is material—here on the earth. When you turned, your soul altered. It can't go to hell. When you die in this form, it ceases to exist. No hell. Not ever."

"What?" Dean looked at him, eyes searching Sam's looking for the truth.

"No hell, Dean. They can't take you."

"I'm still a monster. You need to end this."

"Dean, the deal…"

"Got it, Sammy. And when you kill me, I'm not a monster. And there's no hell. Perfect!"

Sam ignored his brother, instead carefully turning Dean's arm over and running his hand over a scar on his brother's wrist, he looked at the matching scar on his own arm. "Remember this?"

Dean smiled gently. "Yeah, we'd just seen that movie with Jimmy Stewart about Cochise—'Broken Arrow'—and decided to do the ritual from the movie." He laughed softly. "Dad was pissed 'you're already brothers, you don't need to kill yourselves to prove it.' "

"Yeah. I had to read the book—the one the movie was based on—in my class on the Frontier West in literature."

"You are such a geek."

"Thanks. The book was called Blood Brothers…"

"Makes sense, isn't that what the ritual was called too? And the knife. I remember you were so scared when you sliced your wrist and said 'this knife knows we are of one blood'."

"I think I was more scared when you cut your wrist."

"Sam." Dean met his eyes. "End it. I won't become a monster and risk hurting someone, risk hurting you." Dean stopped, panic suddenly springing to his eyes. "And the deal? What if…Sam they said you'd die if I tried to get out of the deal. You have to kill me, do it."

"Dean? If I kill you and you don't go to hell, isn't that breaking the deal?" Sam said gently.

"Kill me, please Sam, you promised. I can't risk you, I won't."

"Dean…"

"What if they come for you, Sam? You have to kill me. Please, now."

"Dean…" Sam said again.

"You promised me, Sammy."

"Since you made the deal, Dean, this whole year, I've had to face losing you. I can't Dean, I won't."

"YOU PROMISED YOU'D KILL ME!" Dean shouted, pulling against the chains.

"No I didn't. I promised I wouldn't let you become a monster, Dean."

"Same thing."

"Dean…" Sam picked up the large knife he'd put on the bedside table. Dean stopped struggling against the chains.

"Do it fast, Sammy," Dean closed his eyes. "Goodbye little brother."

"It's not goodbye," Sam said softly. Dean's eyes snapped open, but before Dean could say anything, before he could react, Sam quickly sliced his own arm, then Dean's, pressing the wounds together.

"No, Sammy, wash it out. Hurry."

"Too late," Sam said, already feeling a prickle of cold running up his arm like an army of frozen ants. The cold was spreading through his body, pinpricks of ice, freezing his life. He fumbled with the key and managed to get the lock off the chains. "Stephen said it was usually very fast."

"Sam, no." Dean's voice was anguished, tears running down his face.

"I told you, we go down, we go down together, Dean." Sam unwound the chains holding Dean to the bed. "Together." He stood to walk back to the head of the bed as Dean pushed the chains away. Sam's knees buckled before he made it. Dean caught him and eased him onto the bed.

"Sammy…"

Sam looked at his brother. "I won't let you become a monster. You never let me believe that about myself, I won't let it happen to you."

"You're not a monster, Sammy, never could be." Dean's voice broke.

"Neither are you, Dean," Sam said. Dean was holding him propped against his chest, his arms tight around Sam. "Never."

"Sam…"

"And now they can't take me, either, Dean. No matter what. They can't take either of us. We go on, saving people, hunting things, the family business. Together." He let his head drop against his brother's shoulder. Dean tightened his grip. "There's enough blood for both of us in the fridge. When you think it's safe to move me, take us to Stephen. He's at the Abbey of the Holy Blood outside of town. He'll help us adapt."

"Sam," Dean let his head rest against the top of Sam's. "Little brother…Bitch," he said softly.

"Jerk," Sam said and let the cold carry him away. "Together…"

XXX

He hadn't seen it coming. He'd been so wrapped up in his own misery, he hadn't seen it. Dean heard the frantic pounding of his brother's heart as they spoke, but he convinced himself it was just Sam working up the strength to kill him.

He'd never been so wrong.

Dean caught Sam, holding him as tight as he could, willing his blood out of Sam, begging a silent universe to turn it back, knowing there was nothing he could do. He could feel the tears on his face, the ache in his chest as he listened to Sam's heart slowing.

Each heartbeat took a moment longer than the last. He's dying. I know it's different this time, but oh god, Sammy. "Sam," Dean let his head rest against the top of Sam's. What do I say? How do I fix this? "Little brother…Bitch," he said softly.

"Jerk," Sam said, his heart slowing another beat. "Together…"

"Together, Sammy, always," Dean said softly, knowing his brother hadn't heard, knowing his brother was dying. He let his hand rest on Sam's chest. Listened to the slowing beat. His hand was there when Sam's heart skittered, he heard it as the organ tried to carry on against the poison, but couldn't fight it. His hand was there, he was listening, when Sam's heart took the last beat it ever would. Dean felt the change in Sam as he died. He felt the shift moving Sam to a new existence, one they would share.

"Together," Dean said, holding on to his brother as if he were the only anchor in a storm-swept sea. "I'll be here when you wake up, Sammy."

The End

A/N II: Now that the boys are here, I plan to return to this 'verse occasionally. If you'd like to play let me know and I'll set up a C2.