He wasn't even sure it was going to work.

They'd been close all week, barely without contact of each other, which had made getting what he needed even harder. Usually, him and Dean splitting was common, even if just for a little while.

Lately, though, Dean had been glued to his hip, and while he'd appreciated it and known why Dean was doing it, Sam really had needed the alone time. It wasn't bad enough he had to feel horrible about what he was doing, but Dean wasn't even giving him the time to do it in.

When Dean decided to take a shower on Thursday, Sam offered to go grab lunch from a Thai restaurant he'd spotted across town. Dean had agreed, and Sam had high-tailed it to the pharmacy nearby. Getting in had been easy enough, since it was a small town that wasn't used to seeing government officials, and he'd gotten in and gotten out in ten minutes flat. He'd ordered the Thai food, then had managed to make it back without shaking himself apart.

Just a simple drug. He wasn't going to be the one taking it, but it was still his stomach knotting up anyways.

Dean would never forgive him for this.

He'd grabbed coffee from the place near the hotel and brought everything back in just as Dean had been getting out of the shower. "Got everything?" Dean had joked, and if Sam hadn't smiled, Dean hadn't said anything.

That had been twenty minutes ago.

Sam took a sip of his coffee the same time Dean did, and watched as Dean made a face. "What the hell did you get?" he sputtered, glancing over at Sam. Sam put on the same type of expression, eyeing his own harmless coffee with distaste.

"I...don't know. This was supposed to be regular," Sam replied. And the Oscar was going to...

Dean made a face but drank again, so Sam did as well. He went on drinking until his tongue was burned and his eyes burned. He wasn't sure it was all because of the hot coffee.

Dean chuckled and took the last sips of his, then set the cup on the table. He tried to, at any rate. The empty Styrofoam container tumbled onto the ground, and Dean frowned. "Dude, what the hell'd they put in this?" he asked, but his words were already slurring. He frowned more at that too, and Sam closed his eyes.

"Sam, I think...think somethin's wrong," Dean managed, putting his hand on the back of his chair and pushing himself up. His legs wobbled and began to give underneath him, and Sam slid out of his chair in time to catch him. Dean's eyes held the first traces of fear, but even that diminished when Sam caught him.

Dean would never forgive him for this.

"Just relax, Dean," Sam said quietly, moving over to the bed. "Don't fight it. You'll be fine."

When they reached the bed, Sam finally dared to glance down. The fear was back, more than before, and the hurt and betrayal were swimming amongst the growing anger. "You drugged...?" Dean whispered, stunned. "You-"

"You didn't give me another choice," Sam admitted. "I had to do something to make sure you didn't follow me or stop me." He was ranking all sorts of monumentally stupid points up today: drug his brother, and then summon by blood the demon who held Dean's contract.

Dean just stared at him, helpless to even fight back. He tried pushing away, but it was weak, and it only caused him to fall back onto the bed beneath him. Sam pulled his legs up gently, pulling Dean's boots off, and getting several weak kicks for his efforts. "Don't," Dean mumbled, and the struggled kicks and words hurt more than the full strength blows and shouts ever could've.

The boots were done, and Sam moved to sit next to his brother on the bed. Dean's eyes were rapidly closing, but the emotions in them were still as strong as they had been before. "I..." and Dean's eyes closed, ending whatever else he'd been about to say.

Sam had a fairly good idea.

Of everything they'd ever done to each other, whether in prankish fun or for their own good, this had never happened, never been attempted. This went beyond betrayal, and Sam closed his eyes for a moment, let himself just be here for one last time.

Dean would never forgive him. Sam wasn't sure he was going to be able to forgive himself for this, either.

He grasped Dean's limp hand in his and squeezed tightly for a moment, then stood, opened his eyes, and began packing.

He'd carefully made sure that they were nowhere near any crossroads when he'd decided that this was when he'd do it. Crossroads held a magic of their own, one that had nothing to do with a red eyed demon stealing pretty girls in the night.

So it was in an abandoned field that Sam stopped the car he'd stolen. Might as well make it a full day, after all. He slid out of the seat and pulled his small bag with him. The grass was dry beneath his knees when he knelt, and he wasn't sure if that was good or not. Dry meant a fire, possibly, and that was something he really couldn't do still. No fires.

He laid out the cloth he'd bought, then poured the herbs out first. The invocation had been one he'd memorized during small breaks of privacy, usually when Dean had been taking a shower or getting gas into the car. He began to recite, pouring each herb when he needed to.

Finally he was down to the last ingredient: the blood. With shaking hands he pulled the small vial from the bag and made the last pattern. He'd drawn it from Dean's arm before he'd left, then had bandaged it carefully and tenderly. As if the drugs in his system weren't enough, Sam was leaving yet another mark on his brother.

Smoke rose instantly the moment he spoke the last word. He stayed kneeling, the gun tucked in his back pocket. No Colt, thanks to Bela, but he'd consecrated the rounds, blessed them, and had let them soak in a sink full of holy water.

They wouldn't kill, but they'd hurt and slow down at least, long enough for Sam to do...something.

Salt was behind him, but he hadn't bothered laying it out. Not until he knew what he was dealing with.

"The mighty Boy King."

He snapped his head up at that, at the deep voice that was scathingly sharp. A man stepped out of the still rising smoke, a smirk on his face. Business suit, perfectly trimmed dark hair, and something else Sam couldn't place.

Sam swallowed hard and rose slowly. "Oh, don't get up," the demon said, and Sam was pushed back to his knees with a hiss. "Not on my account."

"Who are you?" Sam asked with gritted teeth.

"Standing in for my father, since he couldn't be here," the demon continued, strolling forward. "Last great thing he did was pull Dean's soul in. Well, that was, before Dean shot him. Sort of ironic, don't you think?"

Sam's eyes widened to the point of painful. The yellow-eyed demon. "All of his rightful possessions fell to me," the demon continued, and plain black eyes stared down at Sam. "Including that dirty soul of your brother's."

The snippish tone was too familiar, and Sam slid the puzzle pieces into place. "Meg?" he breathed, staring hard.

Black eyes regarded him coolly. "It's Daniel now, I think," Meg said, shrugging. "I don't pay attention anymore. I was waiting to see how long it'd be before you cracked and used that spell, and you know what? It didn't take long at all. Guess leaving your brother behind is an easy thing to do, huh?"

"Let him go," Sam said, glaring up at him now. "Or I swear-"

"Sammy boy, you're in no condition to be making a bargain," Meg chided, moving with strong, sure steps to get in his face. "Not when you've got Lilith gunning for you. And that little demon that's tagging after you? Please. She's not with you."

"Not against me at the moment, so I'll take what I can get," Sam managed through gritted teeth, and Meg laughed, deeper than most guys went.

"You don't get it, do you Sam? It's just you now, against everyone. Including Dean. I think it'd be an irony, the perfect irony." Bright white teeth glinted in stark contrast to the deep black eyes. "He sold his soul to save the person who would ultimately betray him. Utterly and completely betray him in such a way as no one's ever really done before."

Sam swallowed hard. He couldn't let the thoughts cross his mind, because they'd show on his face, but the gun in his back pocket had to get into his hand somehow. Just one shot would be enough.

Meg leaned in, smelling like blood and death. "He's gunning for you now," was whispered in glee. "Figured I should give you the heads up."

So focused on his triumph that Meg never saw the gun until it was too late. Sam had it jammed up into ribs covered in a perfect suit before Meg could do more than gasp. "You let my brother out of the contract with me alive, or I'll pull the trigger," he said slowly.

Meg stared deep into Sam's eyes, but Sam never wavered. "Think you could kill an innocent man, like the one I'm wearing?" he asked. Sam bit his lip to hide his surprise, hoping he appeared indecisive.

Meg didn't know he didn't have the Colt.

He pushed the gun in further, watching Meg flinch. "I think I could," he said coldly.

He blinked once, twice, and then began to smile. "How fast can you pull that trigger, Sammy boy?" Meg purred.

Something hot and heavy breathed down the back of his neck, followed by a feral growl.

He barrelled into Meg, pushing the human body down as whatever it was behind him snarled. Sam spun around in time to avoid the attack, then tried to take in exactly what it was he was looking at. He knew what it was, but it was supposed to stay in Greek mythology.

An honest to goodness chimera was staring him down. Holy-

That was around the time that he remembered his gun was full of the right bullets for anything like this. At least, he hoped so. He took aim and fired right between the eyes.

The chimera growled and shook its head, brushing at its face as if it'd been stung by a bee. When it turned back to him, it was barely bleeding.

Sam was going to die in the field, a mauled corpse that Dean would never have to identify because one, Sam was going to be in unrecognizable pieces, and two, Dean still wouldn't have forgiven Sam at that point.

Meg chose that moment to shout and dive for Sam, sending him sprawling straight into the fast moving chimera's path. He shot a bullet off at Meg, enough to hear a deep yell of pain, right before the chimera landed on him. Hot breath and sharp claws dug into him as he tried desperately to keep the jaws from locking around his head. Then the claws dug in deep, too deep, and Sam couldn't help the scream that rose from his lips.

The jaws came close, too close, and Sam turned his head to avoid it as much as he could. It was snarling, furious now, and digging in deeper each time. "Let him go!" Sam shouted weakly over the chimera, but Meg didn't respond.

A shot rang out, and the chimera was physically shoved to the left of Sam. Another shot, and it was off of him, claws sliding free by tearing more skin. Sam fought the urge to curl up on himself, simply because he didn't have the energy to do it. What energy he did have was spent turning towards the sound of the shots.

As soon as he could see, though, he wished he couldn't. Dean stood, shotgun propped under his right arm, his left arm trembling as it held the shotgun up. His right finger looked solid around the trigger, though, and his face gave away nothing. He was leaning against the Impala's hood, almost slouching, and if the sweat on his face was anything to go by, he was using every last bit of energy he had to stay where he was.

Yeah. Totally making Sam feel worse than he already did.

The chimera wasn't moving anymore, though, but Meg was. Hauling up to the man's full height, Meg glared at Dean despite the bullet hole in the torso. "That's the second time I've been shot like that because of you Winchesters, and-"

Dean merely pumped the shotgun, albeit slower than he normally would've. "Back off and go," he said, enunciating each word with obvious stress. Sam's heart tripped in his chest at it, at what he'd done, at the fact that Dean still wasn't looking at him at all.

Meg glared, then released in a spew of black from the guy's mouth. The guy's body fell after Meg was gone, boneless and lifeless. The chimera was dead beside it, though Sam didn't really know how when his bullet did nothing to the head.

He wasn't going to think about it. Not when Dean was finally moving, pushing away from the Impala and letting the shotgun slide onto the hood. Sam fought to push himself up, gasping and panting from the blood loss. His blood was everywhere, making the dry grass slick and dark.

He was up on his elbows by the time Dean had almost reached him. Dean was moving okay, actually, and Sam gave a small frown. "I thought you didn't have any strength," he managed between pants.

"I don't," Dean said. "I've been saving it all for this."

His right hook sent Sam back to the ground, the world spinning alarmingly. When it stopped, he was left with Dean standing over him and shaking for a whole different reason than the drugs. "How could you?" he seethed, his tongue and voice improving with each word. Sam merely watched and listened and let Dean do whatever Dean needed to before he left.

When Sam didn't answer, Dean just kept going. "How the hell could you do this? You drugged me, Sam. Frickin' drugged me, so you could run off and play 'Let's find the demon' by yourself."

The blood was flowing out more sluggishly now, and Sam blinked heavily up at Dean, who was kneeling now, for some reason. He didn't realize why until something hard pressed against his side, and he whimpered.

"If I hadn't come to in time, or if I hadn't found out whose car you'd stolen, I wouldn't be here, Sam," Dean was saying in his tightly controlled tone. "You could've gotten yourself killed, you jackass."

Sam frowned slowly. Wait, what? Wasn't he mad...?

The world started graying out just about the time Dean pushed harder against his side. "You're not getting out of this that easy, bitch," he muttered, and Sam was pulled back into the land of the conscious. "Sammy, you gotta help me here, kid. I can't carry you on my own."

So Sam pushed himself up, made himself move with Dean to the Impala, then got into the passenger seat. From there, the world sort of disappeared for awhile.

When he came to, he was in the hotel bed, Dean asleep in the other across from him. He blinked slowly, then took stock. Side was patched up, head was cool and not chopped off, and things weren't pleasant, but they weren't unpleasant, either. Drugs, then. The safe drugs, and Sam didn't think he could still drop to feel lower, but he did.


Sam glanced over at Dean, who was apparently not as asleep as he looked. "I screwed up," Sam whispered.

"No shit, Sherlock, but we deal," Dean said, closing his eyes. "This entire idea was cocked from the beginning. We can't do crap like this on our own. Remember? Better together."

He did know, which was why he'd done it in the first place. "So now what do we do?" he asked quietly.

"We don't let you go for coffee anymore," Dean mumbled, but he opened his eyes and fixed Sam with a gentle, teasing gaze that only made Sam's eyes burn. Dean's smile dropped a little as he watched Sam, but the tender gaze stayed even as his sleep-filled voice continued. "And if we could, I kinda wanna avoid you goin' off on your own again to get yourself killed. That's what got me."

"Not the fact that your brother drugged you?" Sam asked, snorting in self-disgust.

"If I could reach across to you, I'd smack you," Dean grumbled, before sighing. "Dude, you've drugged me before without my consent."

Sam started at that. "No, I really haven't," he said. "I know I haven't."

"Plenty of times," Dean said, shrugging with one shoulder. "How many times have I been too out of it from pain to agree to drugs?"

"Medical, emergency reasons," Sam argued. "Never-"

"Or when I've had a headache, won't admit to it, and you've crushed the pills up into a drink for me anyways?" Dean continued with as pointed as look as he could give.

Sam felt his skin warming up. "I didn't think you knew about those," he mumbled.

Dean snorted softly. "Dude, you got the idea from me after I did it for you. I'm not stupid, you know." There was a pause, before he looked Sam straight in the eyes. "What I'm trying to tell you is that the drugging isn't the worst part of this, not even close. It's why you did it. You did it because you were going off to do something incredibly stupid, and the only way to keep me out of it was to incapacitate me."

Sam stayed silent now, plucking random bits from the sheets beneath him.

He heard Dean sigh again, then nothing. That was, nothing until Dean shoved him over with wobbly but stronger arms than before. "Move it," he said, and Sam scooted back gingerly as Dean slid in to sit down beside him.

Another lengthy pause. "You don't do this again," Dean said quietly, and Sam winced at the bare, open tone his brother was speaking with now. The vulnerability was painful to hear, yet needed all at once, because Dean obviously still trusted him with all of him. "You don't put yourself on the line like that, or knock me out so much that I can't help you."

"You did help me," Sam whispered, glancing up at Dean. "Saved my ass, remember?"

"Don't you forget it," Dean grumbled, but he slid down until he was laying on the side Sam had been occupying. "I mean it, Sammy. The scariest damn thing was knowing that you were going off to get yourself killed and I couldn't do a damn thing about it."

"I'm sorry," Sam finally said softly. It was lame, two words stretched out into silence, but he hoped the sincerity would at least be worth the breath given.

Dean relaxed fully at the words, turning his head to face Sam, a smile on his lips. "I know," he said gently. "We're okay, Sammy. I promise."

Only two words again, but they soothed something deep inside of Sam, something he hadn't known was out of place until Dean spoke. He closed his eyes at that, let himself slide towards a deep, fully relaxed sleep.

Dean took his hand to briefly squeeze it, and Sam took the forgiveness that was all too easily given because of love.