A Moment Lost In Time

CHAPTER ONE

By Ebbtide Cheque (aka. Tina c.)

Sometimes a single moment in time is enough to change the entire meaning of the future. What actions happen after that moment are forever affected by it.

(Folsom Prison Blues)

Eyes widen, shock overriding the original distaste that had momentarily lit their smoky depth. A soft echo of reproof never reaches a helping ear, instead echoing on forever between the soulless walls. Unwanted touches, uninvited hands caress a twisting body in throw with unrealized thoughts of escape. No help comes.

A body slumps to the floor, cold merciless unconsciousness claims another of the abused victims. Alone, asleep, a single tear slips down his cheek. After minutes or maybe days, he find the strength to fight through his haze. A blush of shame reddens his face, a badge of honor lost to another's twisted tastes. Hands shaking, knees knocking, thoughts fluttering like a bird in a death plummet, the man forces his shocked body to traverse the hostile terrain. He tries to appear as if his soul had not just been torn in two by the advances of a rapist.

He enters the room so full of blank faces and searches each and every one before his gaze settles. The help he had prayed for, screamed for - the name he had called in the moments of pure terror - comes easily to his lips.

"Dean." He whispers, clears his tightening throat and repeats stronger. "Dean!"

The head turns, the eyes meet those clothed in shame and pain. Sam feels his walls crumble, the internal battering ram unrelenting against his emotional defenses. A single action in time, one moment, had changed everything. He had felt so weak, unprepared for the assault.

A hand touches his arm and he flinches only to realize that his brother had ran to his side. It was a friendly hand, a helping hand, but still his legs shook so bad it was impossible to stand. Legs collapsed beneath him, his tall body supported by those hands. A repulsion grips his heart and he tries to pull away. Dean fights against the bigger man, forcing him down into a chair.

Heart beating too fast, pulse slamming against clammy skin, Sam Winchester dies inside.

Trying to understand what had happened to the man, Dean fights the urge to curse the gods. One simple job, a simple hunt - nothing simple when your brothers hurt. Dean calls out for help amid that sea of closed faces, but all they do is look on, content in watching.

"Deacon!" Dean shouts at the top of his lungs.

A stampede of running feet, yells accompanied by rapid talk. Sam is blind to it all in his shock induced stupor. There is a shuffling of gravity and then a blink later he is in the infirmary. Dean at his side, Deacon not far away, neither willing to speak of what they have learned.

"Sammy." There's a question in there somewhere.

Sad, tired eyes stare at the ceiling no longer caring.

"Sammy?" The question stronger, more pronounced.

The eyes stay open, but they see nothing. Sam has lost another part of himself that he had promised never to give to anyone else. Another promise broken in the sad, tainted life that they live.

"He raped me."

The first words he has spoken in hours, the two men draw closer. Sam shifts then so that he can see their faces not wanting to guess at what pitying expressions may be found there. His body aches and each time he moves it is a reminder of the attack. It had been so fast, so unexpected - he shivers now suddenly cold.

Dean moves, leaning over the bed and almost flinches when his brother shifts away. He pulls a folded blanket from the end of the bed and tucks it around Sammy as best as he can.

"I'm so sorry. This is all my fault." The older brothers voice is broke. "Sammy…" He stops, there are no more words.

"Your getting out of here - forget the ghost." Deacon says with finality. "I should never have asked such a task of you, my friends children. The guilt is on me."

Dean does not argue, there's no reason to now. Sam is all that matters and getting him better somehow. A slack jaw, droopy eyes and then the ending surprise.

"He's unconscious." Dean states with disbelieving distaste. "Now how will we escape?"

"I think I can help you with that." Deacon says with a humorless laugh.

Minutes later they are all outside by the black Chevy Impala. Deacon helps Dean put Sammy inside, laying the tall man across the seat.

"Take him to the local hospital." Deacon repeats. "Don't worry about a thing, I've got some contacts. Just ask for Dr. Hightmeyer and tell him I sent you."

Dean nods his head, bites his lip and mutters. "I'm sorry, Deacon, that the ghost has to wait."

"This is my fault and I'll find another way. I should never have involved you, your brother or this place."

With a shake of his head and a worried frown, Deacon retreats to the jail to raise an alarm. Dean slips behind the wheel of his car no longer thinking about how lucky they are. . .Sam is still unconscious on the seat. Too many bruises are already darkening his cheek.

Wheels spinning, gravel thrown in all directions, the Impala speeds off on the heels of loud sirens.

END CHAPTER ONE

A Moment Lost In Time

By Ebbtide Cheque

BEGIN CHAPTER TWO

Dean looked over at his brother, his little brother. Sometimes it was easy to forget just how young and vulnerable the man truly was. Sure, he had been raised as a warrior since the age of five and for almost as long he had been forced to shoulder burdens that most grown adults could not deal with, but for all of that Sam was still so young. For the first time in years Dean found himself starring down at a sleeping Sam and wondering why they lived the life that they did. What was the point? All it did was cause pain for those that he cared for the most. Sam should have never went through … Dean could not finish the thought, he swallowed hard.

Deep in slumber, Sam was wondering the same questions about himself. In a dream filled, oddly enough, with fields of lollipops and candy canes, he sat and pondered all of the moments in his life that had turned him into the man that he had eventually become.

Sitting on the edge of the hospital bed, in a room set away from the normal patient area of the floor, Dean prayed that his brother would wake up. To see those eyes open, that little half-smile and to hear that voice, it would make everything alright again. A shudder ran down Dean's spine and he ran a hand through his short, blond hair. How could this have happened to his brother? What kind of heartless monster would it take to commit such a brutal act? Dean shook his head, unable to continue thinking about it. He could still picture the expression of shame and pain that had flitted over Sam's face all those hours before.

After five more hours of standing guard over his brother's bedside, Dean was ready to kill something. Better yet, someone. The someone who had caused this all to happen.

There was a polite knock on the door and then Dr. Hightmeyer entered, a clipboard held in front of him like a shield. He was a short, squat man with balding, gray hair and Dean had to admit he might have made a bad first impression when he had come storming through the hospital doors demanding help for his brother. Entering the room with a slightly wary shuffle, the old doctor made his way to the bedside, opposite Dean.

"Your brother was in good shape physically before the attack." He started off, eyes flashing between the form on the bed and the defensive Dean. "You have to understand that what your brother experienced -." He ducked his head. "The rape - it caused some external and internal injuries. I'm sorry, this must be very hard to hear." He apologized softly. "Such a horrible thing."

Dean felt a prick of tears breaking through his tough exterior. "Yeah." He choked out. "What exactly is wrong with him, why isn't he waking up?"

"Honestly?" Dr. Hightmeyer sighed. "I think that he's just tired. Although he is in otherwise good physical condition I did see some signs of insomnia - or what I believe was caused by insomnia - and I think that his body just needs rest."

Dean tried to hide a smile. The doctor did not even know the half of it. Dean knew for a fact that Sam had not slept a full night since Jessica's death, almost two years before. Dean gave a small, half-chuckle at just how true the old saying 'time flies' had been for them. Two years and he still felt like they had gotten nowhere. All of the long miles on the road and sleepless nights in crappy hotel rooms had blended together into a muddle of places and times. It all seemed so surreal now, with Sam's horrible ordeal staring him straight in the face.

He felt an emptiness grow inside of him. It had been at his insistence - and boy had he insisted - that they had entered the jail in the first place. Somehow it had never even truly occurred to him that either of them could be hurt. After all the things that they had hunted, all of the impossible situations that they had lived through it had been almost silly to even imagine that mere humans could do anything to them. He had been wrong, overconfident and cocky. Sam had paid the price for that.

Inside his head, Sam was longing for a time when none of this felt real. His college years, those days spent laughing, talking and cuddling with Jessica. He sighed softly at the remembrance. He lay back on a bed of soft, green grass and looked up into the perfect sky of his dream. The lingering smell of candy made him grin. If Dean ever found out about this dreamscape he would never hear the end of it.

Sam never wanted to leave the stillness of that place, but thinking about Dean gave him a reason to leave. He groaned quietly at the inevitability of it and opened his eyes.

Dean did not believe it at first when Sam's eyes slid open. The elder Winchester blinked.

"Sam?" He asked.

"'ean." Sam croaked out. He cleared his throat. "Dean, where are we?" He tried to sit up but Dean gently kept him laying down. "Dean?"

"Rest for a bit, Sammy." Dean pleaded. "You've been through a lot today."

"Oh. Yeah." Sam's eyes deadened.

It had been easy to forget for that moment, in the brief fog of sleep, what had happened to him. Was it really still the same day? It felt like years before.

"Everything's going to be okay, Sammy." Dean reassured him with a strong, older-brother smile. "Everything is okay."

Sam knew what Dean was doing. It was a tactic that the elder Winchester used whenever he felt overwhelmed by a situation. Trying to make less of it, assure Sam that all was well. They both knew better, but pretending helped. It could not make the hurts and pain go away, but it did help Sam.

He pushed himself up on his elbows, Dean leaned in quick and piled up the pillows so that he could sit up.

"So, what do we do about the ghost?"

"What?"

"The jail - the ghost…." Sam enunciated every word carefully as if he was talking to a five year old. "What about the ghost?"

Dean could not believe his ears. "Are you freakin' kidding me?"

Sam shook his head. Thinking about their hunt kept his mind off of…other things. Things he never wanted to think about again. Dean had other plans.

"You were just - we can't - Sam, what happened to you - ." Dean broke off his stuttered attempt to broach the subject. "Sammy, we just can't, okay?" His eyes pleaded with his little brother to understand. "After what happened there's no way we're EVER going back in there."

Sam shuddered at the thought of entering those gated, guarded doors. "Good." He said. "But we still have to put the spirit to rest."

Dean studied his younger brother for a long moment. "Maybe we can do a little research." He emphasized 'little'. "Only if you're feeling up to it. The doc said you got some…injuries when it happened." He still couldn't say the words, his gaze swept sideways to the wall. "We'll research for a couple of hours, but if we don't find anything we drop it, got it?"

Sam nodded. "Got it."

Sam rubbed his eyes, exhaustion making his mind numb. They had been searching through stacks of old news clippings involving the jail house for the better part of four hours. Dean had given up twenty minutes before and was now chatting coyly with the young, pretty librarian at the front desk. Sam had insisted on staying for another hour at least, now he felt like just going back to the Impala and sleeping for a month.

His senses alert, his nerves frayed, the younger Winchester almost passed out from fright when he felt a hand on his shoulder. The edges of his vision turned gray and an urge to vomit made him swallow quickly - phantom hands traveling all over his body made his tense.

"Sammy, you okay?"

The dark haired man swallowed again as the gray lifted. "Yeah, I'm fine."

"Uh, huh." Dean watched his younger brother worriedly. "That's enough for today, let's get you back to the hospital."

"I found it."

"What?"

"The spirit." Sam looked up at his brother then shrugged out from under the hand before continuing. "I think it was a nurse that worked there - Glockner."

Dean read the articles that his brother pointed to, trying to ignore the fact that Sam had inched away when he leaned over his shoulder.

"Yep, that sounds like as good a candidate as any." He agreed. "It say where she's buried."

"Yeah."

"Good. Then lets go salt and burn this psycho-bitch so we can get you better." Dean flashed his brother a quick, genuine smile.

BEGIN CHAPTER THREE

The tedious salt and burn process complete, Sam collapsed in the passenger seat of the Impala. Dean slid in behind the wheel and shot a concerned glance at his brother, but did not say anything. He had tried to talk Sam out of any digging, but the Winchesters had 'stubborn' fused into their blood. Dean smiled sadly at the thought. It was that same stubbornness that had gotten Sam hurt.

"How you doing, Sam?"

"Mph. Tired."

Sam's eyes were closed and he was leaning against the window, arms folded across his chest in a self-hug. His face was grey and an expression of hidden pain let Dean know just how much his brother was hurting. As the older brother it was his job to keep that look of Sam's face. Dean mentally kicked the stuffing out of himself.

"Well, you just hang in there, we'll be back at the hospital in no time." He offered with forced cheerfulness. "That nice, comfy bed and those hot nurses."

There was no response from Sam except a very soft snore. Dean chuckled dryly. Sam always did fall asleep better in the car. Starting the engine, Dean drove the Impala back to the hospital where he was sure Dr. Hightmeyer would be having a fit with the mysterious disappearance of his patient.

Flipping open his cell phone, Dean dialed Deacon's number to inform the man of their ghost killing. It rang several times before a breathless Deacon answered.

"Yes?"

"Hey, Deacon. It's Dean. We found your culprit and we're pretty sure we've gotten rid of the sucker."

There was a gasp on the line and then frantic breathing before Deacon answered. "I'm sure of it! She just about killed me not ten minutes ago - my hearts still racing - but before she could I saw her burn up. She's gone. I think you did it, Dean." Gratitude laced his words. "How's Sam?"

Dean bit his lip, brow furrowed. "He'll be fine, Deacon."

"I hope so. If you two need anything, ANYTHING, just ask me. You didn't just kill a ghost, you saved my life. So, you let me know if you need anything."

"We will." Dean responded. He cocked his head to one side at a sudden thought. "Actually, there is one thing…"

Sam woke up unsure of where he was at. Someone was breathing softly against his hand, and something warm and heavy was cutting off the circulation to his leg. He jerked backwards, eyes widening at the unfamiliar and unwelcome sensations.

Dean choked on a snore and sat upright in his chair. He wiped a line of drool from the edge of his mouth and looked up at Sam with sleep hazed eyes. It took him a moment of staring into Sam's wide, scared gaze to realize that he had fallen asleep on top of Sam's knee…Dean shook off the visage that conjured up in his mind.

"Sam? You okay? How are you feeling? Do you need anything?" He had been dying to ask those questions for almost nineteen hours - how long his little brother had been out of it this time.

The dark haired man waved a hand in the air to stop the flood of questions. "One at a time, man." He groaned.

Dark, black and blue bruises were spread across one whole side of his face and the outline of a large hand was just visible peeking above the collar of his hospital shirt. Dean tried not to let his focus dwell on the marks.

"How are you feeling, Sammy?"

The tall man shrugged. "Alright, considering…" He blinked, his eyes staring a hole through the far wall. "Everything."

"Do you need anything?" Dean was on the edge of his seat ready to jump up at his brother's command. A compulsion rarely seen in the older Winchester.

"Something to drink would be good. I feel like I've got cotton candy in my mouth." Sam muttered the last.

"Sure thing, kiddo. Be right back." Dean left in search of a pop machine.

"Water, Dean!" Sam specified as his brother left the room.

Relaxing back on the pile of pillows behind him, Sam let his thoughts wander. He still felt scared and vulnerable from the attack, but at the same time it was a little surreal. He almost could believe it had been a very, very horribly-vivid dream. Almost. He hugged his arms around himself and sniffed away the tears that threatened to dampen his eyes.

Sam would not let some psycho in a orange jumpsuit ruin him. There was just no way he would let that happen. . .but it hurt so much to know that he had been that vulnerable. That unprepared. He clenched his jaw and decided then and there that he would never let it happen again. He could allow himself to be caught off guard or unawares like that ever again.

"I got it."

Dean walked into the hospital room, holding a plastic cup of water aloft like a trophy. He slowed, smile dying at the dark, brooding look on his brother's face. Dean knew what that self-absorbed posture meant. He sighed heavily and walked to the bedside, handing over the cup.

"Here you go."

"Thanks, Dean." Sam mumbled.

Dean retook his seat in the chair next to the bed and waited to see if Sam would talk. He knew that the younger man would discuss what had happened in his own time, but Dean needed to know - to hear it with his own ears - that Sam would be okay. Something like…rape. There, he had said it in his own mind. Dean looked at the floor, folding and unfolding his hands nervously. Something like rape could not be passed over or ignored or left forgotten. It had to be talked about and dealt with. Otherwise it would be left smoldering inside, ready to burn away Sam's soul.

"Talk to me, man." Dean pressed after minutes of dead silence.

"I can't. Not yet." Sam's voice was choked. He looked up, his eyes pleading. "I just want to never remember, Dean. I want all these memories to just…" He sighed heavily and dropped his gaze to the bed. "I want them to be gone."

"Okay." Dean did not know how else to respond.

He knew his brother was looking to him for advice - answers - but how could he possibly be expected to know how to proceed? Rape was not something he had ever considered a personal problem, until now. Sam needed him and Dean was prepared to do whatever it took to get his little brother better.

"We could find a doctor, a specialist."

"A shrink?" Sam looked up then with a mocking smile. "Yeah, lets go find a head doctor for your crazy, abused brother." He turned his head away. "No thanks, Dean."

"It's not like that, man." Dean tried to explain, leaning forward, running a hand through his short hair. "I just think that you'll need some help with this one…help I can't give you."

It was so hard to admit that to Sam. Dean kept his gaze averted, not knowing or wanting to know what his brother must think of him. Dean felt he should have just kept his mouth shut, kept on pretending everything would be turn out alright on it's own, but how could he when all he could think about was the fact that his younger brother had been violated by a sadist.

Swallowing the last sip of water, Sam put the cup down on a table beside the bed. He thought over what his brother had just said before making a remark that might be too harsh. He was angry that Dean thought he needed "professional" help to deal with the event. It was not the first traumatic experience - not even the most traumatic - but it had left him feeling more than a little broken inside. Lost was a better word, broken things could be fixed, but something lost could not always be found again. He wanted all of this to be over - better yet, to never have happened in the first place.

"Dean. I'll be okay. It just might take some time, that's all."

The brother's shared a long look.

"I'm never putting you in that position again, Sammy." Dean promised.

"Don't - you can't know that for sure." Sam said quietly. "The job, it's dangerous and we never know when one of us will get hurt. It goes with the territory."

"Not this kind of … not … not rape." Dean's voice was gruff and raw as he forced himself and his brother to face reality. "We see plenty of stuff on the job and a lot of it isn't very pretty, but when something like this happens to one of us. It's time to pull back a little. Stop if we need to. You're more important than anyone else, Sammy. Anyone out there right now who needs saving - they mean nothing to me if you're not alright."

"Dean, I don't know what to say to that." Sam admitted with a blush. "You know that isn't true, though. Sure, right now I need to get better, but all those people mean more than us. We risk our lives on every single hunt - why are things different now?"

"'Cause they are."

"No, they're not." Sam argued.

"You come first!" Dean argued back, his voice raising in earnest. "This family comes first - why can't you accept that? Why couldn't dad!"

He broke off, pushing to his feet so fast the chair spilled over onto it's side with a harsh sound. The elder Winchester paced at the end of the bed, one hand waving in the air as he ranted, the other running through his hair.

"Everything that has happened, it's never enough to make you guys stop. Don't we matter too! Why should we always be the one to sacrifice everything? What's wrong with this freakin' world!"

Further yelling was cut off by a loud knocking on the door. Dean swung around to face the doorway, and Sam turned his head to see Dr. Hightmeyer was glancing into the room with wide, worried blue eyes.

"Is everything all right in here? Several of the nurses complained of yelling." Hightmeyer glanced at Dean and turned his attention to Sam. "Your brother isn't bothering you is he? I can have him removed." He nodded his head subconsciously as he said this. "You need your rest."

Sam shifted forward. "I think I've gotten enough rest, doc."

Dr. Hightmeyer nodded his head towards Dean and raised a questioning eyebrow.

"My brother isn't causing any trouble. I apologize that we bothered those nurses." Sam said, finding humor in the situation. "Everything's good here."

"Hmm." The doctor looked unconvinced, but he left without another word.

"Freakin' midget!" Dean continued on with his pacing once the door had closed behind the man. "As if we didn't have enough problems to deal with at once!"

Sam watched his brother, a small smile playing on his face. He was content to just sit back and let Dean come to terms with what had happened. Sam recognized the pacing, the ranting, the hand motions. This was Dean's way of dealing with something he could not recognize or did not know how to handle alone. Sam would wait until after…then they would discuss their options.

Personally, Sam would have been happy to never mention the subject again. Getting raped was bad enough and the last thing that he wanted to ever, ever do was talk about it. Sure his nerves were a bit on the frayed side and he might be more sensitive to intrusions into his personal space, but he would get over it. Winchesters always 'got over it'. That was how their dad had taught them.

"-You were hurt! Then there's Deacon. O' course, I got him to promise, but still!" Dean kept right on going, getting everything off his chest. "This whole freakin' job was one big mess and it's all my fault!"

That last bit brought Sam up short, the smile melting off his face. "Dean, this isn't your fault."

Dean turned on his heel to face the bed, his shoe squeaking on the linoleum.

"No? Whose brilliant idea was it to go INSIDE THE JAIL, undercover? Who insisted and insisted and insisted? Me! It was all me!"

Sam shook his head. "You're acting like an idiot, Dean. I went in there willingly, you didn't force me to do anything. Neither one of us knew what was going to happen. There is no way that this is your fault."

Dean heaved in a heavy breath and sighed it out slow. "You're right, there was no way we could have know. . . But that doesn't make me feel any less responsible."

"Are you done yelling now?" Sam asked with a half-smile.

Dean grinned back sheepishly. "Yeah, I think so. For now."

Sam nodded slowly. "Good, because I'm hungry and I think I'm in the mood for Chinese."

"What? Really?" Dean squinted. "Chinese, dude?"

"Hell of a lot better than that pizza your always shoving at me. Lets go out and get some food. We can talk about this stuff later." Dean opened his mouth to protest and Sam hurriedly added. "This issue is not going anywhere and I promise you that I won't sweep it under the carpet. I just don't want to go into this starving, that's all."

"Chinese it is. If we can sneak you out past that doctor." Dean smirked. "I think that man has it out for me."

"You haven't exactly been the poster boy for patience, Dean."

Dean just shrugged and helped his brother to his feet. Together they made their way out to the Impala - without sighting Dr. Hightmeyer - and drove to the nearest Chinese restaurant, the Painted Dragon.

Sam tried to ignore the stares that he got, having forgotten in his desire to leave the confining hospital room that he was bruised badly. He pulled up the collar on his jacket and made a straight line for a corner booth far in the back. Dean followed, shooting protective glares at anyone who dared to stare at his brother for a millisecond too long. By the time they'd reached their table the message had gotten across and all the other patrons were minding their own business. Talking in hushed tones over their meals.

"At least it's not one of the buffet places." Dean said when they had sat down.

"Good." Sam muttered, slumping a little in his seat and picking at the pair of chopsticks sitting on a napkin next to a fork and spoon. "That would have been embarrassing."

"Doesn't really matter. So, what are you ordering there, Mr. Starving?"

Sam opened up the maroon and gold menu and leafed through the pages pondering which dish would make the best meal. Really, he just wanted to distract Dean for as long as possible so that when they got back maybe The Talk would be forgotten.

BEGIN CHAPTER FOUR

"That was delicious." Dean said, cocking his head as he watched the retreating form of their attractive waitress.

Sam shook his head. Some things never changed.

The younger man settled back, patting his stomach. He felt full and sore. Contented and anxious. More than a little confused at the confliction and ready for a long nap. He looked over at Dean, who had remained uncharacteristically serious throughout their meal.

"Yeah, it was really good. Thanks, for bringing me here." Sam said.

Dean smacked his hand on the table, ignoring Sam's slight flinch, and breathed deep. "Anything for my little brother." He smiled wide, trying to lighten the mood. Not that it had gotten all that dark over plates of rice and veggie-filled wraps. "Let's get out of here."

"That hospital bed sounds pretty good right about now." Sam agreed, standing to his feet and stretching. He yawned widely, his jaw popping. "I'm exhausted."

Dean chuckled. "With all that food you were chowing down, I'm not surprised. You seem to be packing a few more pounds there, Sasquatch."

"Haha, very funny." Sam muttered with a glower.

Back at the hospital room they settled into their accustomed places. Sam tucked into bed and Dean sitting on the edge of the uncomfortable plastic chair. There was a long silence, broken only by the sound of beeping machines and faded talking from somewhere down the hallway.

"So, the talk?" Sam asked finally, with a heavy sigh.

Dean nodded, a serious expression clouding his face. "The talk." He agreed.

Sam took a deep, steadying breath. He had decided on the way back from the restaurant that he would tell Dean everything. Every last, horrible detail. Because if he had to face them alone he did not know how he would ever get past them. Each memory was worse than the next, but as he sorted through them - trying to prepare what he was going to say - it felt right to talk about it. Not easy, but definitely right.

"He came up behind me in the showers."

Dean sucked in a sharp breath, his hands clenched between his knees, head bent. He did not want to hear this, how his younger brother had been brutally violated, but Sam needed to get it out.

"At first I thought he had just slipped - you know - accidentally bumped into me or something." Sam sniffed, wiping a hand across his eyes. "There wasn't even time to move or react. He had me pinned against the wall and there was nothing I could do - I tried - I called for help." He broke off, tears streaming down his face.

Dean heard the unspoken 'I called for YOU' in that last bit and it an emotional stake through his heart. His stomach knotted up and he almost gagged, forcing his body to relax. Dean looked up at Sam and was astonished not to see any sign of betrayal or anger. He had expected it. Instead, all he saw was sadness tinged with regret.

"I should have been stronger, faster…He never should have gotten me into that. . .position." The last word was barely a whisper.

"Hey, Sammy, you're not weak." Dean knew what his brother was thinking. "You didn't do anything wrong - that monster took you by surprise…"

"So!" Sam snapped angrily. He glared at the far wall through his long, dark bangs. "I should have done something."

"What? Huh? What should you have done?"

"Anything! I could have fought back."

"You did." Dean said with absolute certainty, even though Sam had not mentioned it. "You fought back with everything you had - I know it."

Sam looked away, blinking tears from his lashes, sending them cascading in a cataract of pain onto the white hospital blanket. It was true, he had fought for everything he was worth. Every ounce of strength had gone into his desperate attempt to escape - and yet, somehow, it seemed to be a turn on for his twisted attacker. He could hear the voice in his ear, feel the hands on his body.

Leaning over the bed, Sam threw up all the Chinese dinner he had enjoyed such a short time before.

Dean came around the bed, putting a hand to his shoulder. "Hey, everything is going to be alright, Sammy." He said in a low, soothing voice. "I'm here and I'm not going to let anyone hurt you, okay?"

Sam gagged, felt himself regain control again and sat back, breathing hard. Tears of physical pain smeared across his face. His throat burning, he reached for his earlier cup of water only to find it empty. Dean snatched it out of his hands.

"I got it, you just lay back okay. I'll be just a second." He waited for a confirming nod from Sam before hurrying out the door.

Sam watched him go, feeling more hopeful than he had all day. Dean had been so adamant, so certain. It left Sam wondering about who was really to blame. At first, he had assumed it was his own fault that he had allowed himself to get cornered. Now, after what Dean had said, it left him sure that this was not the case. After all, if he had fought back - tried to escape - then it wasn't as if he had just stood there and let it happen to him. The tears slowed.

"You still with me, Sammy?" Dean asked as he rushed back through the door, button down shirt flapping against his side. "Here you go. A nurse is going to come by in a minute to clean that up." He handed the younger man the cup of water.

Sam drank it gratefully.

"Thanks."

Dean hovered beside the bed uncertainly for a moment before circling around so that he could sit in his chair on the far side. He felt more nervous and jittery than ever before, adrenaline pumping through his system in an instinctual attempt to escape what his body perceived as a threatening situation. Hearing all the things Sam had said had been one of the hardest experiences of his life. Dean swallowed down the revulsion and focused on Sam.

"Then what?" He asked, then added. "You don't need to say anymore right now if you don't want to."

Sam shook his head. "No. No, I should finish. Get it over with."

"Then I think I fainted. Or he hit me in the head. It gets kinda fuzzy after that. I remember getting up, looking for you…then I think we were in the infirmary. That's it until I woke up here." He took another sip of water, his gaze going dark and distant. "I never even saw his face, Dean."

"It doesn't matter who he is, Sammy. What matters is that he can never hurt you again."

"Not me, but what about others. Dean, we have to stop him before he does this to someone else."

Sam threw the covers off his legs and moved as if to stand. Dean raised his hands.

"Whoa, whoa! Hold up there, man. You aren't going anywhere near that place ever again…besides that, I already took care of it."

Sam settled back a question in his eyes. "What?"

"I took care of it, okay." Dean readjusted the blankets, pulling them back up over his brother and lightly tucking them in - Sam was able to resist the urge to wince at the contact.

"How?" The younger Winchester demanded.

"Deacon's taking care of everything."

"Oh."

"So stop worrying about that guy and focus on you." Dean's voice grew deeper, insistent. "This is your time and we need to get you better."

It really struck home to Sam at that moment just how much his older brother looked out for him. Dean had always been there to stand between Sam and whatever danger might be present - at least, he tried to be there. It was the only stable thing in Sam's life. He felt a brotherly affection for the man that had been growing stagnant over the months, with all of their arguments and apposing perspectives. Now it blossomed anew inside Sam.

"Thanks, Dean." He whispered, knowing that gratitude alone would never be enough to repay the older Winchester for all the years that he had been there for Sam.

Dean shifted, running a hand across the knee of his jeans. "Don't mention it, Sam. Just get better."

"I will, Dean. I promise. This isn't going to be the end of me. I'm stronger than that man - he was just a human. It hurts and I'll probably be losing a lot of sleep over it, but I will get over it as long as you're here for me." Sam felt almost pleading by the end.

Dean looked up, pride and love sparkling in his eyes. He smiled. "You know I'm here for you, bro. No matter what."

Sam smiled through the drying tears.

There was a soft tapping on the door and then a short, heavy-set nurse wearing a bright patterned uniform entered with a cleaning cart.

"Good talk." Dean said, slapping his knee. "I think I'm going to go get us something more to drink." He gave the nurse a forced smile as he passed her by on his way to the door.

"Water, Dean." Sam repeated from the bed, his smile widening at the gesture his brother made in response.

Things were going to be alright. Not easy, but then things never were in the universe the Winchesters occupied. It was like they lived on a completely different planet from others. Sam shook his head at the thought of ever being normal. If it meant giving up his brother then he would take psycho and twisted over normal any day of the week.

The nurse began to hum as she cleaned the floor beside the bed.

BEGINNING CHAPTER FIVE - epilogue

A ray of soft moonlight lit up the darkness of the cell, separated into four little groups of illumination by bars on the window. On the lower bed of a shared, jail bunk a muscular, red haired man lay sleeping peacefully.

The gray walls heard nothing as Deacon approached the cell stealthily. He looked in through the barred door on the window and stared at the snoring hulk of a shadow in the lower bunk. It took every good fiber in his being not to march right in there and strangle the bastard, but after many years in law enforcement he had learned how to curb these righteous compulsions. Deacon looked down at the list in his hand and nodded. It was the right man.

With one last glare through the bars, Deacon turned on his heel and soundlessly made his retreat.

Once in his office he made several quick phone calls to close friends who just happened to owe him some pretty big favors. With that finished, he sat back in his chair and smiled grimly.

Dean rode behind the wheel of the Impala, more at peace than he had felt in days. Sam seemed to be doing better as well. Dean looked over at his younger brother who had his nose buried in a book. The older man smiled. He had gotten the book for Sam in the last town they had passed through. The title was: Rape Victims - Recovery, A Choice. Sam hadn't put it down since they started this leg of their journey, his concentration focused entirely on whatever knowledge it contained.

Dean's cell phone started to sing and he fished it out of his pocket. "Hello?"

"Dean, it's Deacon. I did it. It wasn't easy, but that bastard got what was coming to him."

Dean looked over at Sam again and his smile widened even further. "Good."

"I know that I said it before, but the offer still stands, if you two ever need anything just ask me."

"Will do." Dean promised.

Sam looked over then, curious about who his brother was talking with, and he listened carefully.

"You take care of your brother now."

"Of course."

After exchanging goodbyes, Dean turned off his cell phone and put it back in his pocket.

"Who was that?" Sam asked.

"No one."

"Oh, really? Come on, who was it?"

Dean shrugged, glancing out his side window for a moment before refocusing on the road. "Deacon. He just wanted to make sure you were okay."

Sam accepted this explanation and went back to reading his book.

Dean thought about what Deacon had told him and grinned like a kid in a candy store. That sick psycho would never hurt anyone ever again. Dean only wished he could have been there - on second thought, he was relieved to have never known the identity of Sam's attacker.

On a desolate island compound, outside the jurisdiction borders of any civilized country, a prisoner banged against the steel, slab of a door that kept him separated from the world. It was like a nightmare that refused to end. The only human contact he got was from the non-English speaking guards who brought him regular meals. Otherwise he was left completely alone, except for the screams of torture victims floating through a small window near the ceiling.

He would never see the sun again, never be intimate with another human ever again. Kept alive in a living hell.

Behind the wheel of the Impala, Dean Winchester smiled. Justice had been served.

THE END.