Disclaimer: See Chapter One

Chapter Six: Even the Losers

Dean rolled with the large wolf across the thorny ground. The animal held power beyond the hunter's personal limits. His muscles flexed and stretched as he pushed, thwarting the animal away.

The werewolf snapped, hungry for the hunter's throat, only to have Dean belt it across the jaw, sending it hurtling over its shoulders, its head whipping in the opposite direction. Dean scrambled out underneath it, his body turning to stand when the wolf jumped again, this time striking the man with its large claws, raging down his back. Dean fell forward with the force, his head bashing against a fallen tree.

He could hear the distant commotion around him. He heard his name being called. He heard the click of Sam's Glock. And he heard the unmistaken sound of the bullet being fired.

Sam brought the gun down, staring at the wolf as it reared back. The shot had got it in the lower flank. Only enough to sting, let it feel the cool burn of the silver but not even close to killing it.

It did, however, distract the animal from taking a fleshy bite out of Sam's brother. And for the moment, that was good enough.

The wolf turned its head and stalked in front of the fallen man, dangerously studying the one standing, with the gun. It glared into Sam's eyes. It should have finished him off when it had the chance. Shouldn't have played the game at hand. It was the monster and had a reputation to hold up to.

Sam watched as the white wolf snarled its teeth, stained with blood of past kills. Blood of its children. Its head hung low, but its eyes held high. It took a tight step forward, keeping its chest towards the ground. No use in giving the human hope that he could still out wit the beast.

Dean stirred behind the animal, his body slowly turning from the tree trunk. He opened small slits of green just in time to see Sam raising his gun out from his body and the wolf taking three long strides to greet him.

"Sam…" it came out weak, like he felt. Lost in the air, fate showing a full house. Sell us your soul but we'll still get your brother in the end. Or worse. Let him be changed into something you'll have to hunt during your final days.

Then he saw the glow. The wolf stilled. The trees stopped moving. The air thickened, dense fog floated by, making it hard to breathe.

Dean's head lifted part way. His ears were ringing and he had to squint through his hazels to block out the stars swimming in his vision. Sam was in front of the wolf, gun pointed across his center, but in between them was… light.

And light was Carly.

Her right bare foot stepped back as her body crouched forward. Her arms separated from her sides and she watched the wolf shift towards her. Its breath hit the air in sour-tangy pants, wheezing through its lungs in a low rattle. Dark-skinned lips curled over its teeth and they started an obsessive twitch.

"You ready?" She asked the werewolf coolly.

Its head dipped up and down in response.

Sam took a step forward, thinking for a brief moment of insanity, that maybe he should end this fight before it started. He stalked up behind Carly as she flipped her hand in his direction, pushing him easily to the ground with a thud.

"Hunter, stay."

Sam blinked back. He watched as the shine Carly was emitting began to fade as she and the wolf leapt for one another at the same time. Their bodies met in mid-air, one crashing into the other, spinning circles around the brothers' heads, dizzying the humans. The boys stole a glance at one another as they became onlookers in a battle caught between two worlds.

Henry's razor-like claws gashed and tore shreds down Carly's body. Her white flesh peeled back like rubber, exposing china-bone underneath, but barely a drop of blood. The wolf shoved her, ramming its body against hers. It threw her into the tall Evergreens and then rushed her back to the ground. Its jaws opened and wrapped around her lower arm and then it clenched down, its top teeth overlapping the bottom as it pressed.

Carly took the beating. Let the werewolf work out its rage for her. Let it feel her body unraveling at its hands. Let it touch her one last time.

God, she loved him.

The spinning slowed and their bodies lowered again, Carly's feet barely touching the dirt as she danced with her husband on the forest floor. They stopped and gazed into each other's eyes. Behind the fur, the paws, the cold, and the anger… there was still some humanity there. Somewhere deep inside.

The wolf's body leered once, its mouth opened and it wrapped its mighty jaws around the vampire's neck. It started to squeeze. And that was its fatal mistake.

Carly reached her left hand up and grabbed Henry's bottom jaw and then her right settled over its top. She held fast and gripped them both tightly, pulling back in one explosive thrust, snapping the wolf's maw in half.

It retracted back with a high squeal, a yelp that sounded more like an abused dog than a ferocious beast. It took a clumsy step back in the woods, the vampire following with certainty. It had, after all, played out in her hands the way she had imagined it would go down. The way she had dreamt it would so long ago.

Her hands trembled once as they reached for her love. She grabbed its head and twisted it violently to both sides, feeling the bony skull rock and roll between her palms. She felt the snap, heard the pop and started to lift the animal up from the ground, its shoulders unable to take the weight and friction of the pulling until the tearing began. Carly twisted the wolf's head around, her eyes catching the blood trickle from the neck as it ripped apart until the entire head came off in her hands in one great suction cup sound.

Henry's animal eyes closed, the pinkish-black tongue protruded out. Blood poured from its animal body, spilling all over the dirt. All over Carly.

She turned to Sam. "Shoot him. Shoot him in the heart."

Sam grimaced. The last time he had shot a werewolf, it hadn't gone very well. In fact, the time before that? He wasn't hot on re-living that one, either.

No more werewolves.

Sam raised his Glock and pointed at the wolf's torso. He narrowed his eyes and took the shot. The silver burned out of the chamber smacking through the thick coat and into its chest. Only then did its knees buckle and the creature fell, its fur floating away from its body as the wind kicked back up.

Carly's eyes constricted as she observed the gentle transformation from the wolf to her husband. Her eyes softened, her red lips turned to pink and her smile contained only one set of teeth. Her smile, of course, through her tears, genuinely falling down her cheeks. She stared into Henry's face, her hands still holding his detached head and she kissed his lips.

"Henry."

She fell near his torso, the Earth once again taking the assault as she rejoined his head with his body. She lovingly brushed his hair out of his eyes and started singing. "Well, I started out down a dirty road, started out all alone. And the sun went down as I crossed the hill, and the town lit up, the world got still."

Sam walked to his brother and reached his arm down, Dean taking it with great appreciation. The younger man pulled back as he helped the injured man back up.

"You okay?" Sam's voice was masking the emotion he was trying to fight.

Dean gave him a quick nod. He reached over with his hand to feel his back. The wolf's claws had ripped through his coat, into his shirt and had made purchase with his flesh. The heat shot up his spine, burning his neck. "Son of a bitch," Dean murmured as blood appeared on the palm of this hand.

Sam did a quick once over on his brother. "Coat took most of the damage," he announced. The cuts were angry, but they weren't as deep as Sam had originally feared.

Dean scowled. "I know. Thank God I didn't wear my leather."

Sam canted his head. Leave it to his brother to be more concerned with a jacket than his own life.

"How's she doing?"

They both turned to look over to the vampire. Her head was moving from one lifeless body to the other. Her heart, if it was able to beat, would certainly be bleeding itself to death.

Dean pushed off the fallen trees he was using as a crutch and brushed by Sam. The younger brother following close behind. They walked over to the woman's small figure and lingered above her. The tears were unstoppable. Her grief was inconsolable.

"Carly…" Sam began.

She shook her head. Too soon. Not ready. Even for the reborn dead.

Sam tugged on his brother's shredded jacket and they walked away from the vampire. They stood together for some time, shoulder to shoulder, waiting her out, listening to her serenade Tom Petty to the ones she loved. Dean thinking about the salt and burn of the bodies, Sam thinking about the salt and burn of the lives lost by the dark side of the supernatural.

The soft crunching of sticks brought their head up as Carly made her way to them. She walked without victory, her bare feet unscathed from the Earth. Her shoulders were sunken, the distant look returning to her eyes. She had no light to possess any longer.

"Carly, we're so sorry." Sam's voice was sincere and her cheek ticked up in response.

She caught his eyes and held him for a moment. "It's not your fault. You hunt evil." She reached a cold hand out and grazed Sam's cheek with the back of her fingers. "We all have choices to make and they were wrong. I don't blame you for Lucas."

Sam's breath hitched and he leaned his face towards her fingers but she removed them before he gained any comfort.

She took a step back. "Almost done."

Dean cleared his throat. "Yeah. If you want to go back to the cabin, Sam and I will burn the…" he stopped himself, his eyes drifted. "You don't want to be here for this, Carly."

She took another step back, spreading her arms apart. "I can't leave." She thumbed over her shoulder. "Look."

The boys looked in the way she was motioning and saw standing in the middle of the fallen trees was a mighty Evergreen, hollowed out in the middle. Dean's eyes narrowed. Sam gasped.

"You know it." Carly stared at the younger brother, not asking a question, but making an observation.

Dean's head swiveled in Sam's direction.

"I… uh, saw it my dream this morning."

She smiled a little. "Yeah. Me, too." Silence hung like a blanket over them. Along with the coming dark.

Dean waited and then, "What?"

Carly moved to the tree, looking around the trunk, checking the ground until she found the spot that was calling to her. She looked up and waved the Winchesters over.

The vampire was anxiously preparing. She pulled some stray grass off the area and moved two rocks. She glanced up to Sam. "You have to kill me." It was said with such a casual and excited tone, the hunter thought at first she was possibly joking.

Sam let out a small laugh and exchanged a look with Dean. "No."

Carly stopped moving and stared back at him, incredulous. "Yes. This is it. I've seen you in my dreams for years. This tree." She turned around and patted the bark. "Right here. And you. This is how I die."

"I thought you couldn't see your own death," Dean pointed out.

Carly shrugged. "I didn't. Not like I see… other people's deaths. I always thought it was just a crazy dream."

"Carly, I'm not going to kill you. I can't kill something unless… it's evil."

She stopped. "But I am."

Sam lifted his brows. "Well, you're not… natural, but…" Sam looked to Dean for a little help. "But you're not evil."

Her eyes hardened and the boys felt the icy shift against their skin. "I'm a monster. And I swear," her fingers came up to her neck and she caressed the glossy silver, "I swear to God if you don't kill me now, I will hunt tonight. And I will kill until you have to come after me." She glowered at both brothers. "Do you really want that blood on your hands?"

She was talking crazy. She was talking like a woman who had just lost everyone she loved. She was talking like a human.

"I don't believe you, Carly," Sam stated. "You said it yourself. We all have choices. We all have the right to live."

Carly's hair fluttered in the wind. Her eyes shut and when they opened again, they were bloodshot, her lips filling with red, new teeth descending over the first set. "I have nothing!" She shouted, the last word ricocheting off the Evergreens. "I have nothing to live for! This is what I am!" Her voice lowered to a manageable level, her attention turned to Dean. "I hope there is a God so he can forgive me for what I've done, but I'd rather go to hell then live a day alone in this world."

The silence engulfed the three of them again. Carly slowly lowered herself to her knees. She looked up. "Get it over with."

The machete was pressing into Sam's back. The strap was pulling across his chest, plucking at stitches ready to give. It was so heavy. He reached back and brought it across his middle, staring at the blade's edge. "I can't. I don't believe…"

"I'll take your brother. I swear I will. Tonight. Tomorrow. I'll get him."

Sam stopped. She was pulling at straws. Desperate. Sam pushed his lips out. "You're lying."

"Isn't it just like a woman? Never knowing if you can believe them or not?" Carly smirked. She shook her head and opened her mouth, her sing-song voice hitting the air crisply. "Oh, you were a vampire and, baby, I'm the walking dead… Oh, you were a vampire and now I'm nothing at all."

Dean looked down. "Now, she changes her tune," he muttered under her breath.

"You're not a monster," Sam whispered. His eyes were hot, to her cold, he was resolute, to her pleading.

Carly took in a long breath, reading him. "Oh." She smiled to herself as though she just got the punch-line of a really lame joke. "I think the wrong brother has the sword."

Sam's head slowly turned to Dean. His brother's chin already pointing in his direction.

"We all have a purpose in life," Carly repeated herself. "My purpose is gone and I swear to you I will become what I was designed to be." She laid her eyes on Dean.

The older Winchester's hand stretched across the younger and he gently pulled the machete out of Sam's weak hold.

"Get behind me," the vampire instructed.

Dean gulped and followed the darkening grass up the slope to where Carly knelt, her back to him.

Sam turned away.

"Wait." Carly's voice halted him and forced him to look back. "You stand there and you talk to me."

Sam's hands came out and smacked his sides. "What?" his voice was an octave higher than he planned. "What am I suppose to say?"

"It's okay." She was calm and collected. "You say it's okay and you're not alone."

Sam stared at her. The vampire's eyes were still bloodshot, her face was paling even more against the turning sky. Sam blinked back the wetness he felt building in his eyes and nodded.

"It's okay," Carly reminded him. He wasn't sure if she said it for her benefit or his.

Sam saw Dean's legs spread apart behind her and he shifted his weight from one foot to the other. The younger man cleared his throat and looked at Carly. She stared back up, her eyes locked with his, urging him, encouraging him.

"It's okay," Sam's voice broke and cracked, unrecognizable to himself. His periphery caught Dean's arms bending at the elbow and swaying to the right, the falling sun glistening off the blade. "You did the best you could." Sam saw Dean's eyes focus. He had his mark. His body stopped moving and his shoulders pulled back. He waited for Sam.

Carly's eyes softened. Her lips turned to pink. Tears brimmed on the edge of her lids as she held Sam's gaze. "Don't hold it against him," she suddenly blurted out. "He just couldn't live without you."

The world was starting to tank from Sam's point of view. The sky was getting so dark and the air was growing so cold. He wanted to tell her to wait. Wait until the sun came up again. Tomorrow would be a better day.

"Thank-you, hunters," she murmured.

Sam nodded to her. "I'm here, Carly." He took in a deep breath. "You are not alone."

Dean finished out with the swing, his body following through, the blade slicing easily into the vampire's head. It sounded like a picnic watermelon being cracked open.

Blonde locks toppled one another as Carly's head flipped and flopped to the ground below.

They turned from the scene simultaneously, Dean dropping the machete from his hands. He spun on his heels, facing the hollowed out tree, the palms of his hands slamming into his eye sockets. He pressed down deep until stars and stripes blared back to him. His mind raced back to the day before. The day before and Sam, staring at the wolf-boy's body, trembling, crying that he had killed a child. Suddenly, Dean kind of knew what he felt like. Killing the mother wasn't any easier.

"FUCK!"

Sam twirled the opposite way, swaying twice when his eyes traveled to the Evergreens fallen in front of him. He thought of Henry to his left and little Eliza laying not far from him. Father and daughter, werewolf and vampire. Born from love, died mythical enemies. Their souls long sold and forgotten by everyone. His breath caught somewhere in his throat, driving his knees to the muddy floor below. The forest was turning blue and black, coming alive with the sounds of the night critters, the insects, strange birds calling from above. Sensory overload for one night.

The dry heaves started.

Dean heard his brother trying to empty his toast onto the dirty ground. Heard his knees crack as his body landed into the mud. Heard the sigh escape his lips. Heard his heart fall apart inside his chest. Dean's boots clumped against the short grass as he walked around Carly's body to get to his purpose in life. The road he had chosen.

He stooped down in front of his younger sibling. His calloused hands reached out and grabbed a sleeve of Sam's coat. He yanked on it forcefully, drawing Sam's eyes up. "Sam?"

Dry eyes filled with sorrow, haunted by fear stared back and Dean felt something inside of him twist in response. "Why'd you do it?" Sam's voice was so low, so soft, Dean had to lean in to catch the words.

"What?" His face frowned. "Sam, she begged us. You heard her, she…"

"Why'd you make the deal?"

Oh. Dean closed his mouth. Silly hunter. Here Dean had thought the lesson had been with the vampire. The joke was on him.

"Why didn't you just let me stay dead?"

"What? I told you…" Dean's orbs were swimming, tears threatening to fall over.

"You were free."

"Free?"

Sam's eyes were hot and dry which was really funny to Dean because he could feel the wetness running down his own cheeks now.

"You didn't have to choose anymore. You didn't have to save me. You didn't have to kill me. It was already decided. You didn't have to do anything."

Dean swallowed. He felt his body sway and his grip on Sam's sleeve tightened, keeping him from tumbling over. "I had to let you go, Sam."

"Yeah. That was it."

"That was…?" Dean stopped, taking in a shaky breath. He released his air. "Couldn't do that. Couldn't let you go. I have to save you."

Sam shook his head. "It wasn't about Dad or the promise or saving me. It was about you, Dean. You couldn't be alone."

Dean blinked and another tear trailed down his face. Shut up, Sam.

"So now you're leaving me. And I have to live without you. Without anybody."

Dean's eyes fell. Shut up, Sam.

"What can you possibly say to make that all right?"

The words Dean had spoke to his brother regurgitated back to him onto his lap. It was a sticky mess. He felt the tears turn to anger and the anger turn to rage. "What, Sam? What do you want me to say?"

"I don't know… how about you're sorry?"

"Sorry?"

"Yeah."

"Sorry?"

Sam glared at him.

"No."

Sam nodded, his blood fuming as he turned away.

"What about you?"

He looked back. "What about me?"

"I sold my soul for you, Sam. And I don't even get a thank-you?"

"Give me a break."

"I'm serious. You want an apology, fine. I want a thank-you."

"I never asked you…"

"That's right. You never asked me."

Sam pulled his arm from Dean's grasp and pushed away, leaving Dean's body to fall backwards to his legs behind him, sitting with his soul slaughtered on God's green Earth. Sam had the salt can and was spreading white over Carly's remains. He walked to Henry and on to Eliza. Then he reached for the lighter fluid and Dean listened to the gulping liquid as it splashed over the family.

Sam's hand was suddenly in his line of vision. He looked up to his brother, secretly grateful he'd come back to help him. "You got the lighter," Sam reminded him tersely.

Dean's hands almost couldn't find the pocket of his jacket as his fingers fumbled for his Zippo. Sam grabbed it from him and lit the bodies, the woods shining in the fiery light. Shadows played on one another. Tempers cooled, hearts chilled.

Sam looked in Dean's direction. "Come on."

Sometimes the little brother's job required picking up the pieces, too.

They walked back through the forest of trees in silence. They crossed the clearing where Lucas's body lay in a mound of charred ash without speaking. Night fell over them as they reached the cabin, walking in, back to one another. Neither made eye contact. It was another day almost gone.

For that reason alone, they hurt. Both of them.

Sam threw the duffel down to the floor. The cabin hadn't changed, but it felt darker. It felt empty. It smelled musty and old without the sweet scents of the vampires masking it.

It don't really matter to me, baby,

You don't believe what you want to believe,

You don't have to live like a refugee…

Dean marched by Sam and grabbed the iPod in his hands, shaking it violently. Tom kept playing, despite his efforts. "How do you… change the fu –"

Sam reached over and took the music device from his brother. His long fingers glided around the face, pushing the dial a couple of times until a different song came on. He gave Dean a small smile and placed it back on its charger. The gentle music filled the void.

You can take all the tea in China

Put it in a big brown bag for me…

Then he swept by Dean and walked to the hallway, where a dim light was coming from the back bedroom on the left. The door was propped open from Carly's jaunt through the house earlier that day. Sam walked slowly down the short corridor, Dean on his heels, both holding their breath as they approached the room. Part of each of them felt like they were trespassing. Part of each of them thought they may actually find the vampires in the room, alive and giggling.

Sam pushed at the half-open door until both men were both able to peer inside. There was the brown leather chair, shoved into the corner, the side table next to it and the old phonograph, polished, looking like new. And a full sized bed decorated in a white comforter with pink polka dots. The bed frame shot up in a mahogany canopy with a white princess toile hanging down. There were at least a dozen pillows of different shapes and sizes laid at the top.

She's as sweet as tupelo honey

She's an angel of the first degree…

Sam felt Dean sigh against the back of his neck as he mumbled, "Superhuman strength. Superhuman speed."

There was a picture on the made-up bed, the drawing Eliza was working on before she escaped out her window. Or was lured out. Some things would still remain a mystery.

Sam walked over and picked it up. It was a drawing of her family, all labeled with their names. Her mom and herself, beautiful blonde hair in pretty gowns and her dad and Luke. They looked like happy dogs, wagging their tails. Not like wolves or things she should be afraid of. It was always the predator who disguised himself the best to the prey.

Sam tossed it back on the bed and headed out of the room. His stitches were itching him and he really needed to sit down.

You can't stop us on the road to freedom

You can't stop us 'cause our eyes can see…

The living area seemed so much smaller. Dean walked by and picked up the black coffee mug and retreated to the kitchen. He pushed the 'on' button of Carly's coffee machine. It started percolating. He could hear Sam pulling out the sofa bed and he turned around to say something, but he already had it out. And, really, what could he say? Sam had a point. Dean had sold his soul to bring Sam back from the dead but that didn't mean he was saved. It didn't mean Sam was pure.

Just how sure are you what you brought back is one hundred percent pure Sam?

"Want a cup?" Dean held the mug up into the air.

His brother was just sitting down on the side of the bed. He glanced up at the black coffee cup and abruptly shook his head. Dean poured the caffeine mixture in and walked back to the living room. He sat down on the brown leather chair of Sam's dreams and looked around.

Men with insight, men in granite

Knights in armor bent on chivalry…

Dean reached above his shoulder and grabbed the wooden candlestick down from the bookcase. He rolled it in his right hand and took a long look at it. It was a keepsake wedding candlestick, engraved with the marriage of Henry and Carla George. Dated 1929. He held it up for Sam to see.

There are times that with being human, people have a way of seeing others without seeing them. Talking to them without speaking to them. Hearing them without listening to them. It happens in all relationships. Lovers. Parents. Children. Siblings. Not everyone is supernatural. Or even superhuman. Most people? Are just normal.

Dean suddenly saw his brother. And his brother was staring at him like he had seen a ghost.

"Sam?"

Shut up, Dean.

Sam watched his brother drop the candlestick, put the coffee mug on the side table and raise from the brown leather. The room tilted on its end for a moment and then evened itself out. Sam tried to ignore him as Dean walked the short distance to where he sat. Dean's body slanted to the left as he made his way to him as Sam blinked hard, trying to still his world. He opened his eyes back up and saw his brother in front of him, resting on his hind haunches, reaching for Sam's jacket. His lips were moving.

"…don't look so good… take this off…"

You know she's alright

You know she's alright with me…

Sam allowed himself to be removed from his coat.

"Sam?"

A lump had wedged in Sam's throat and he had swallowed numerous times already. It was stuck. "Why is okay with you that everyone can die but me?"

Dean sighed, blinking at him. The kid just couldn't let it go. He had to blame somebody. If it wasn't Dean, he'd settle on himself if he had to. "Is that what you think?"

Sam shrugged. "You'll kill anything, even yourself, just to keep me alive."

"You're my little brother," Dean whispered. "You're my family."

Sam ticked his head. "And you're mine. I'm not worth more than you, Dean. You're just as important to me…"

"I know, Sam."

Sam shut his eyes again, his head hanging low. When did it become so complicated? When did he lose so much? Why was it this? His brother trading his life for Sam's seemed to make everything else that had happened seem so less important.

Maybe because when he lost Jess, when he lost Dad… he still had Dean. God, he missed his brother already. He hated him for what he had did. And he couldn't love him more, either. He wished things could be easier, wished it could go back to when Dean would nudge him and call him Sammy.

"Sammy…"

Then again. Sam's eyes snapped up.

Dean's fingers wrapped around his brother's biceps. "I did it because I couldn't bury you. I couldn't burn you. I did it because all I knew was that I had to save you. If it's the last thing I do, I'm gonna save you."

She's as sweet as tupelo honey

She's an angel of the first degree

Dean blurred against the dark background of the cabin as Sam's eyes filled. Strange how things work out. Two years ago Sam was planning on going to law school. He was going to have a fiancé and later a wife. Hell, by this time, he should have been married and choosing which law firm to join. Shopping for a house and maybe a crib. Certainly not hunting monsters. And killing them because of something they might do in the future.

Just like him. What would have happened to his white-picket life when the black was spilled out? Sooner or later, the demons would have come. The truth would still be told. How would Jess have handled it? Would she stay by his side like his brother? Would she have had the strength to fight? Would she find a way to get to know him as he changed? Would she have loved him through it all?

You almost died in there. What would I have…

In all honesty, it had always been his brother. Dad didn't have the time in between teaching his boys basic hunting practices and running his own life into hell. The "friends" he made through the various schools they attended and even Stanford were all surface valued. No one knew the truth. No one knew him. No one knew he was a mess. That he had secrets. That he was vulnerable. That he was cursed and scared.

No one except Dean. And wasn't it a kick that with everything Dean was willing to give, his life included, that Sam was the one to throw it in his face. He was the one pushing instead of pulling.

Dean's face was drawn into a questioning look as he watched Sam sit in silence, the tears running down his baby brother's cheeks. His hands were clutching the younger man's arms, squeezing, shaking at times, calling his name, but Sam… Sam seemed dazed.

"Sam, come on, you're scaring me." Still no response. The thought of hauling back and slapping him across his face crossed his mind when the hazels behind his brother's lids seem to find their light.

"Dean?"

The older man winced at the soft sound of his own name. He wanted to say something, but he was all out of words. His arms reached around and he roughly tugged his brother to him in a warm hold, his chin resting on the crook of Sam's collar bone and his younger brother tucked into his chest. Dean felt Sam grab at the sides of his t-shirt, fisting the material in his hands, leaving Dean's damaged back free to expand and retract for the both of them.

She's as sweet as tupelo honey

Just, like the honey, baby, from the bee.

This is why he sold his soul for his brother's life. Because Sam had so much life to give. And Dean needed Sam to give him life back. If it worked out, maybe, just maybe, they both could be saved.

Sam sighed into the soft cotton. He closed his eyes and held on tight, letting Dean's shirt absorb his tears. With the empty cabin sheltering them, it wasn't surprising that he felt right at home in his brother's embrace.

WWW

Dean was sitting in the brown leather chair. He was drinking from the black coffee mug and whittling at that damn candlestick. Sam sat up, watching him with narrowed eyes and a heavy heart. Why? Why this dream?

Dean stood up and walked over to his brother, laying on the couch, hoisted on his elbows, looking up. Sam glanced around. No Carly. No tree. Just him and Dean.

"You make a stake, Dean?"

Dean nodded. "Yep."

"What're you hunting?"

The man smiled. It was bizarre. "You."

"Sam!"

The bumps and springs of the thin mattress from the pull-out sofa were being pressed into Sam's back. He opened his eyes and saw his brother through the light of the moon.

"What?"

Dean didn't let go, but he sat back, giving Sam some room to breathe. "I'm not gonna kill you."

The darkened iris's blinked. "What?"

"You were mumbling. Said I was gonna kill you. I could never… I will never kill you." He tightened his grip on Sam's arms.

"Carly… she was… like me. Yeah?"

Dean cursed under his breath. It was never ending. The pain that followed them, the guilt they took, the secrets they kept. The fear. "No, Sam."

Always Dean. Sam gripped back. "Dean…" he felt like the world was still off, spinning faster on its axis than normal. "I killed a boy."

He could see Dean's head bob up and down in the neon light. "You killed a werewolf. You couldn't help it that he changed that way when he was little. You would have never killed a boy. What you did, Sammy… it doesn't make you a monster. And I…" Dean's voice trailed for a second, "I don't see you that way." When he didn't get a response, he went on, "I killed his mother. It's no different."

His mother. Weird. It was odd to hear the sounds of family associated with the hideous evils in the world. Sam nodded as Dean let go. The older brother walking around the sofa bed, passing by the old oak door. They secretly missed Carly. Missed the door opening and shutting. Missed Eliza's giggle. Missed that another family was gone from the Earth. Even if they weren't natural. They had still been good to the world. Possibly even good for the Winchesters.

"What do you think her number was?" Dean asked, thinking of Carly and the door. "You know, when she would rub the oak?"

Sam shrugged. "She counted so fast. Probably in the hundreds."

Dean's arm fell over his head, clutching the hilt of his knife. The cabin was dark, only the wan light from the moon filtered into the windows. He could barely see Sam against the white pillowcase.

"Sam?" He could feel the turn of his brother's neck, knew he was looking at him through the black. He didn't respond, he just waited. Dean swallowed. "I'm sorry."

No more Tom Petty. The iPod was turned off. No more bare feet slapping on the hardwood. The vampires were dead. No more counting days until he would be alone. Until there was no one left who knew him.

Really knew him.

Sam listened for a sign that things would be okay, that things would be better, but everything was so quiet. He didn't hear anything. Just the beat of his brother's heart. And for some strange reason, he noticed his own heart was thumping in perfect synch with it. Maybe there was sign after all.

Huh.

Sam's lashes fluttered, causing the salt in his eyes to burn again. He was hoping he had been all cried out. But his body wasn't quite there yet. "Thank-you, Dean."

They were each just words spoken, simple sentences any child could say in a desperate moment. But each man meant it. For more than one reason. And the other brother knew it and accepted it into his heart. Because in the end people just want one other person in this world who knows who they are and still loves them for everything that comes with it.

Even if that person happens to be your brother.

Playlist: Learning to Fly (sung by Carly George) and Refugee performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bloodletting (sung by Carly George) by Concrete Blonde and Tupelo Honey performed by Van Morrison.

A/N: Thanks for reading – and for those of you who are reviewing, truly, thank-you.

I've been in the fanfiction world now for about six months and I need a beta. This is how I write. I have issues with homonyms and I am not always a winner with keeping with the person point of views when I change to a new person. I didn't know if anyone would be interested in being a beta or have someone to suggest. Most of the people I've talked to already have people they beta for and their plates are full. So, if you're interested, I'd love to hear from you.

Oh, and, K - if you're reading this - you have my email address. Bring it on, I promise I won't be a baby about it.

Thanks again.