Summary: At the Pierpoint Hotel, Sam's drunk and begs of Dean the unthinkable. Just like Dean's father had. As he begs Dean to watch out for him, Dean's thoughts race over the past months. Takes place during "Playthings."

Disclaimer. Neither of the Boys or Supernatural is mine. But I would be happy to accept any clones of the Boys available. Really.

The Burden

"I want you to watch out for Sammy."

Dad was an ass. You don't lay that sort of crap on your kids. But he had. And now his drunken little brother begs the same of him.

"You need to watch out for me, Dean."

He settles his so-drunk-how-hadn't-he-thrown-up little brother into the too short bed in the old, old hotel where people keep dying. Where the woman from the company drowned. Where the man taking the toys fell down the stairs, his head turned 180. Where the man from the company had just been found hanging, dangling from the room's ceiling fan. The man Sammy couldn't save. The life Sam was sure would have helped redeem him and help save him from his darkside fate.

"Promise me, Dean. You have to promise me."

Another burden, another weight on his shoulders, another promise he doesn't want to give, placed there by the one remaining person who means the world to him. Who is his world.

"You need to watch out for me, Dean."

Why? Why is it his burden? Why always his? Hasn't he given enough? Hasn't he given everything? How can Sam ask him to add the murder of his own brother to the list that already strangles his soul?

"I want you to watch out for Sammy."

His father had said that to him a hundred times. A hundred hundred times. Said it to Dean as he stood at the door of some crappy motel, his callused hand resting on the worn doorknob. Said it as he stood at the Impala, his callused hand resting on the door to the car. Said it to Dean, his duffel thrown over his shoulder, filled with guns and salt and holy water, as he went off to fight another evil son-of-a-bitch. But not the thing that killed his mom. Never the thing that sliced his mother's belly open and pinned her to the ceiling, drops of her blood staining just the bare corner of Sammy's baby blanket. The only thing he had left of his mom. That small infinitesimal stain that, as a child he sometimes held up to his cheek and pretended that in the tiny stain he could still smell the daisies of her perfume or shampoo or whatever it had been that had been the smell he associated with the beautiful blonde woman he barely remembered. His memories of her, the four-year-old's real memories, had long ago been replaced by the images seen in the few pictures his father had retrieved from the burned-out house.

"I want you to watch out for Sammy."

Not until his father disappeared had his father hunted after that thing—the demon—that had taken his mother, his chance at a happy life, away from him. The thing that had since stolen his father. That had possessed his father. That had pinned Dean against the wall and cut up his insides, his life blood pouring from him as he begged his father to save him. As he heard his father beg his brother to shoot him. The vague recollection of being carried out to the Impala and placed in the back seat. The vague recollection of the roar of the Impala as it barreled down the back roads. The vague recollection of his brother and father fighting. Always fighting. The vague recollection of his head slamming into the side window, his body slamming into the door, the door he'd climbed in through and out through a zillion times, the door that led to the only home he'd ever known. He'd sat in that home, barely conscious. Like he'd be on those long nights when the Impala's purr lulled him. The memories of falling asleep stretched out across her leather upholstery, head resting against the worn material, and if he tried hard enough, really tried, he could still almost smell that new car-leather smell. The memory of being curled up in the backseat, his little brother beside him as they huddled together for warmth against the cold. The little brother he both loved and hated—it's a brother thing—next to him, Dean's arm thrown over him protectively.

"I want you to watch out for Sammy."

The vague recollection of his brother's panicked voice screaming his name. The hands that pulled him from the skeleton of his beautiful Impala, twisted and t-boned by the demon-driven semi. The hard backboard he was strapped to. Is he even alive? he heard Sammy scream. He wanted to tell Sammy he was. He was. He had to be. He had to watch out for Sammy, didn't he? The sound of the chop-chop-chop. Oh God, they were going to fly him. Fly him. The thing didn't even have wings for God's sake, just flimsy little blades. How could Sammy let them fly him? Sammy knew he hated to fly.

The hospital. The thing that happened there, the thing he couldn't quite remember except as a ghostly pretty girl with dark hair and a sand box. Sand castles were built in sandboxes. That was his life—a sand castle. There for a brief moment, then washed away to join the sands of time, maybe never to be rebuilt.

"I want you to watch out for Sammy."

His father, beaten and bruised, arm in a sling, standing at the door. His eyes. Those soulful eyes. Sammy had them. Got them from their dad. Those soulful eyes filled with the wet glisten that shouldn't be there. That was only there when his father had been drinking too much. When he remembered Mom too much and the pain cut him like fresh knives. The begging of Sam not to fight with him, not to butt heads right now. Sam and Dean, they both knew, knew that something was terribly wrong. But then Dad wanted caffeine. Well, that was normal enough. The man needed coffee like a fish needed water.

His father telling him that he was proud—proud!!—of Dean. When had his father told him that? He had said lots of things through the years, but never that.

"I want you to watch out for Sammy."

But never "proud". Never flat out saying it. Seeing it in his eyes—yeah, sure lots of times. But never saying it. That was too chic-flick. Winchesters didn't do chic-flick moments. But his dad was. Then

"I want you to watch out for Sammy."

Normal. The standard "goodbye" phrase. No, no, no, he didn't want to say goodbye to his father. He'd just found him again. He didn't care if Sammy and his Dad fought every day for the rest of his life or even came to blows or had that fight about college over and over and over again. But not goodbye.

"I want you to watch out for Sammy."

The leaned-in-close whisper, the begging not to tell Sam. The warning that it was up to Dean to save Sam. He'd put too much on Dean, made him grow up too fast, he'd told Dean. And now, he had to save Sam. Or he'd have to kill him. Kill him! Kill his own brother! The brother he'd protected time and time again. The brother he'd watched out for ever since their mom had died. Watched out for in the shitty schools and shittier motels. In the haunted homes. The darkened caves. Among the trees, among the bees. In the hills. In the rills. I do not like Green Eggs and Ham, Sam I am. I do not like green eggs and ham.

Everywhere. Anywhere. It was his job. Not kill him. No. That wasn't his job. But his father had said it was. Was his new job. How could his father ask that of him? How could his stoic, practical, drill-master father…what was Sammy going to become? What did his father know that he was afraid to tell? What could twist that standing order, the words that had become their traditional parting words?

"I want you to watch out for Sammy."

Twisted that "you're-the-man-of-the-house-until-I'm-back" order into doing what hunters do as Sam became some sort of monster. Of joining the darkside. Not his Sammy. Not his dewy-eyed, way-too-emo, froo-froo coffee drinking (milk and sugar in it for god's sake, plus who knew what else in that foam topped Starbucks) little brother. What could turn him into a light-saber-swinging, heavy-breathing, black-masked monster that Dean might have to Luke Skywalker back to the good side of the Force? No. Not his little Sammy.

"I want you to watch out for Sammy."

Then his dad was gone. Like the Colt. Like his peaceful nights of sleep. It screamed in his head every morning. Screamed in his head every day. The whiskey didn't make it go away, though he tried, tried so hard when they weren't on a job. Every time Sam looked away, every time his back was turned, Dean wondered if then, then was the time that Sam would turn back to him, eyes yellowed like that demon son-of-a-bitch that had taken his mom away. Would that be the day he had to plant a knife in his brother's back? Would that be the day he'd have to put down ol' Sammy, like putting down Old Yeller. You were a good boy, you saved my life, but it bit you. Got it's teeth into you. Now, you're no good. Now I have to watch out for you.

"You have to watch out for me, Dean."

No. No, he'd rather die himself. He would die. A bullet for his brother, one for himself. If it came to that. But it wouldn't. He'd save his brother from that darkness, whatever that darkness was. He'd sell his soul to save his brother from whatever fate his father believed was Sammy's. He'd do anything. Anything. It was his job. His only job.

"You have to watch out for me, Dean."

Now, he helped settle his drunken brother into the too short old bed in the old, old hotel where people kept dying.

"Promise me, Dean. You have to promise me."

Don't ask that of him. He already hears his father's orders screaming in his head every day. Now Sammy would do the same thing to him? Beg of him the same thing? To kill him if he went darkside? How could his father—how could his own brother—think he could do that? How could they? Was he some little toy soldier?

No. He was an older brother.

"I promise."

He won't remember come morning. Sam's drunker than drunk. He won't remember.

Please, don't let him remember…

"I want you to watch out for Sammy."

"You need to watch out for me, Dean."

He'll watch. He'll watch like he promised. But he doesn't know if he can do more than that. He doesn't want to know. He prays he never has to know.