For Trasan and - neener, neener, neener, I finished first! :P And no it wasn't a competition :) Merry belated Christmas. Special thank you to Red, an awesome beta and wonderful friend, and thank you to every one who has commented. Your words have been very warming. Sorry for the delay. January was not very nice to me.

Bye Baby Buntin'

Chapter 4

Don't move….

The hard edge of his father's voice filtered through the darkness as Sam regained consciousness, his body tense, his memory scattered.

Oh, come off, you're no fun…

Dean? Sam frowned, something wasn't right.

Fun? You call this fun?

Dad?

This? No, this isn't fun. Now little Sammy… Sammy's fun… Lots and lots of fun…

Panic bashed lucidity through Sam. Not-Dean. It was not-Dean!

You sick sonnovabitch…

A distraction. His father needed a distraction.

Fumbling fingers found the knife even as Sam sucked air into his lungs, yelled, "Dad!" and lunged forward, throwing the blankets off his trembling body.

A shot fired –

Dean dropped.

"No!" The word ripped through the room as Sam rapidly blinked through his blurry vision and saw his brother's body drop. "Not Dean!" he frantically gasped, "it's not Dean!" And then his father was there, blocking the shifter and crouching down eye level to Sam.

Strong hands, burning hot, grasped his shoulders and gave him a shake. "Sam?" the older man barked, "Are you okay?"

The sound of feet pounding up the stairs had John spinning to his feet, the gun up and pointed as Bobby burst into the room, hat askew, arms loaded with a shotgun.

"Dean," Sam suddenly remembered, his gaze returned to the fuzzy blob of the shifter's body. His father's shot had been true, the creature was dead. "Where's Dean?"

"Please God, tell me that's not him." The words were blurted out before Bobby thought better.

Sam grabbed his father, his words running together in urgency, "The bathroom! He went to the bathroom!"

Bobby was gone in a blur of color and loudness, John hesitating only long enough for Sam to let him go.

"Stay here," John barked as he thundered from the room but Sam was already half way to his feet.

"Dad," he pleaded, worry for Dean pushing him forwards, but then he froze, the shifter's body folded in front of him.

"Time to go," the creature hissed, hefting Sam up in a bridal carry. The young hunter was too beaten to fight and only whimpered as he was dropped into the trunk of a car. Not the Impala, he vaguely registered and was unconscious before the trunk slammed shut.

Coldness revived him. He was lying in the snow on the side of a road. Slowly, arduously, Sam got to his feet-

"Dean!" His father's alarmed shout startled Sam out of his flashback; fear for his brother overrode fear for himself and the teen tore away from the body and moved into the hallway. "God-damnit, Bobby, don't let go!"

Limping quickly into the doorway of the bathroom, Sam's stomach dropped. He couldn't see exactly what was going on because his father and Bobby were blocking him but the window was open and Sam just knew that Dean was somehow out side that window. And then he saw Bobby pull back, his hands were wrapped around a strong rope. Sam felt all the blood drain out of his face, oh, God, the shifter had hung Dean.

"No, no," he started to whisper as his father leaned further out the window. He wanted to make himself move, to make himself help Bobby hold that rope but Sam couldn't as he grabbed at the doorframe to steady himself. "No, no, no."

---

John cursed under his breath when he heard Sam behind them. Damnit, he'd hoped the kid would have stayed in the bedroom. He had enough to deal with without Sam freaking out being one of them. Dean was outside. Apparently the shifter had thought it funny to string the young man up by his wrists and hang him outside the house in the dead of winter. The shut window and a large knot on the part of the rope hanging on the inside of the bathroom was the only thing keeping Dean from falling two stories to the frigid earth. John had no idea yet how badly his son was hurt but he knew the twenty-year-old was alive and cold; that would have to be enough until they could get him back inside.

"Pull," he grunted to Bobby as he leaned out as far as he could to try and reach Dean's outstretched hands, noticing now that his son wasn't wearing a shirt. "Shit," he cursed, the shifter had been wearing Dean's clothes so Dean was hanging in the cold in just a pair of boxers and a pair of socks. "Bobby!"

Slowly, inch-by-inch, Dean was hoisted up and John was finally able to grab his hands, alarmed by how cold they were and how unresponsive Dean was. "Hold on, kiddo," he murmured as he tightened his grip and pulled. "Just a bit more…" Behind them a litany of 'no's' tore his heart but he didn't have time to reassure Sam yet. They had to get Dean inside first.

John tried to block out the memory of shooting the shifter, of putting a bullet hole in something wearing Dean's face and didn't doubt he'd be having nightmares about this for a very long time. Behind him, Bobby barked at Sam to get blankets and the kid must have listened because when John carefully pulled an unconscious Dean into the warmth of the bathroom, a heavy grey blanket was quickly wrapped around the young man.

"Dean?" Sam's broken whisper made him look up even as he pressed eager fingers against the milk white throat. The steady thrumming of a pulse settled relief over John. It was a bit slower then he'd like but Dean was alive and that was all that mattered.

"He'll be fine," he spared for the white-faced teen before turning back to the younger man. A garish bump on the side of Dean's head had him gently checking for dilated pupils but everything look fine as Dean started to violently shiver.

"We need to git'em warmed up," Bobby offered. John blinked at him dumbly and then gave himself a little shake. Of course they did.

"Put him in my bed," Sam's voice was shaking, "it's warm."

Nodding, and with Bobby's help, John carefully hefted Dean up and they followed quickly after Sam. "Sam," he grunted when the teen faltered, the shifter's Dean-like body suddenly an obstacle and while John understood, oh God did he understand, they didn't have time, not with Dean shaking so hard John was afraid he and Bobby were going to drop him. But John's voice did the trick and with a barely perceptible nod, Sam moved past the body, climbed into his still warm bed and held out his arms.

"Dad?" John started to brush him off, Sam was in no shape, but then relented when pleading hazel eyes, bright with too much emotion, begged for his brother, "Please." Swallowing back the lump that rose in his throat, the man carefully placed Dean in the bed and helped Sam cocoon himself and all the blankets around the shivering hunter. "S'okay, Dean," Sam whispered as he snuggled tightly, grimacing only slightly at the discomfort, "I got'cha."

"John." Bobby's quiet voice drew John's attention from his boys. The man was crouched down next to the shifter. He cast a significant look at the younger Winchesters, let's get this outta here, and John agreed. He knew there were more things he needed to do, properly checking Dean out being a priority, but he also knew his older boy would kick his ass if John left Dean's little brother in the room with a shifter – even a dead shifter – any longer than necessary. And since Dean wasn't in any shape to make Sam feel better right now, John would.

"Sammy?" He moved between his sons and the creature. "We're going to take this outside," he paused and added, "keep an eye on your brother."

Sam nodded, then gave a small smile, "You know I will," and then turned his full attention back to his brother.

John watched them for a few more long seconds, his gaze lingering on Dean's pale face, forcing his suddenly pounding heart to slow down. It hadn't been Dean he'd shot, he knew that, just as Sam knew it wasn't Dean who had hurt him, but by God, it really didn't make it any easier. But, hopefully, with enough matches and a lighter now, and a bottle of Bobby's whiskey later, he might be able to put that memory in a place where it didn't hurt so much.

And then with another blink, he sighed heavily, reached a hand out to give Sam's slim shoulder a gentle squeeze and then grabbed the legs of the shifter. In those few moments, Bobby had gotten a towel from the bathroom and it now covered the creatures face and John had never been so grateful.

"C'mon, John," the other hunter cajoled, "let's get this done so we can get on to more important things."

The oldest Winchester slewed one final glance at his sons and then he and Bobby took the shifter out of the room.

------

Dean woke slowly. He was warm and comfortable, his body resting against something solid but soft. A quiet thumping against his cheek made him smile. He'd know that heartbeat anywhere. It was Sammy. And then memory crashed over him and he jerked away, sitting up, then promptly doubling over with a groan and throwing up.

"Dean!" His brother's voice split his head open, not helped when Sam suddenly yelled, "DAD!"

"S'mmy," The world spun sickeningly around him as Sam pulled him back and away from the mess, "Y'kay?" The irony of the question was completely lost on Dean.

"Me?" Sam snorted softly, as the sound of someone on the stairs made Dean groan again, "I'm not the one blowing chunks in bed."

"Boys?" John's voice as he loudly burst into the room sent Dean into another round of puking, leaving him weak and miserable when he could finally breath again.

"Dad?" Sam's voice was worried and Dean wanted to tell his little brother that everything would be okay once Dean's head stopped exploding, but strong hands manhandled him off the bed and into the bathroom, oh crap, not the bathroom again, before he could get anything out.

He started to shake from the cold and from the effort of throwing up when something warm was wrapped around his shoulders and he was sat down on the closed lid of the toilet. Thankfully the light was kept off and that was the only thing that made Dean brave enough to open his eyes. "S'm," he whispered into the terrified face only inches from his, "M'kay."

"Yeah, Dean." A glass of water was held to his parched lips and Dean drank slowly, afraid that too much movement would have him hurling again as he vaguely wondered where his father had gone since he and Sam seemed to be the only ones in the bathroom now. "You get any more okay and we're taking you to the hospital."

Dean balked. "Not." And was rewarded with a slight huff but Sam didn't press the issue, probably realizing that arguing with his obviously concussed older brother was probably not going to be his smartest move. A sudden violent shiver racked his frame and he groaned at the effort of keeping from throwing up again. It was only then that he realized he wasn't wearing clothes. Just boxers, socks and a blanket.

Sam must have seen the question because, God bless him, the kid answered without Dean having to ask. "Shifter took your clothes."

"Bastard," Dean managed back as he slowly leaned forward, the effort of sitting up suddenly becoming too much. His forehead came to rest against his brother's shoulder as Sam moved in closer. Dean wanted to protest, he really did, after all he was the bigger brother and Sam was hurt worse, but there was just something very comfortable about this right now and until something bigger and badder than a concussion came along, Dean was content to let Sam be the stronger one for a bit. But it didn't stop him from stiffening and readying himself to protect his brother when someone stopped in the doorway. It was just his father though so Dean let himself relax again.

"How is he?"

Dean opened his mouth to answer for himself but Sam beat him to the punch, showoff. "Better… I think." Oh, yeah, Sammy, that sounds convincing.

"Good." Their father sounded odd but the twenty-year-old wasn't up for speculation beyond figuring that whatever had gone down tonight hadn't been pleasant. "We stripped the bed but the room still stinks."

Dean grimaced. I bet.

"So Bobby put an extra cot in my room. I'll sleep on that. You, boys, can have the bed."

Dean felt Sam nod even as his eyes slipped shut, the effort of staying awake becoming too much. There was some more jostling, some mild mumbling from him that was supposed to be a protest and then he was being gently laid down on the new bed. He tensed until he felt a warm body settle down behind him and then blankets were pulled up to his chin.

"Get some sleep," their father ordered, then silently slipped out the door.

Dean was almost asleep when a soft voice tickled the back of his neck. "Dean?"

"Hmmm…" was the best he could come up with.

"I'm sorry."

Dean opened his eyes. "For what?" His head was pounding and he wondered if he'd missed something. When Sam didn't answer, he pressed, forcing hard not to slur, "Sammy?"

"That you got hurt."

Oh that. Dean relaxed, a small smile played across his lips. He'd been worried for a moment but this was just Sam being Sammy. "Yeah, well," he sighed out, "I'm not exactly happy about what happened to you either."

A soft snuffle against his bare back as his brother pressed in closer made him close his eyes. He reached back and gave his brother a little pat. The kid could be such a girl.

"Dean?"

He tried to keep the exasperation out of his voice as all he wanted to do was go to sleep, "Yeah?" but he was tired.

Sam didn't answer, obviously having picked up on it anyways.

"Sam?" The slight trembling from the body tucked in behind him made Dean frown. "Sammy?"

"Shapeshifters really suck."

Dean stifled a laugh at the absurdness of his brother's observation. Oh man, could he love the kid any more than he already did? "Well, if it makes you feel any better," he deadpanned, "they aren't exactly on my Christmas card list either."

There was a pause, almost long enough for Dean to go to sleep this time when –

"Dean?"

Oh God, scratch his previous thought, if Sam didn't shut up right now and let him go to sleep, Dean was going to kill him… or pass out. It really was a tossup at this point which was going to happen first. But before he had to answer, his brother finished, "You don't have a Christmas card list."

"Sam." One word, spoken with so much tolerance and patience Dean was downright proud of himself.

"Yeah?"

"Shut up."

----

But six years later when Dean crouched down next to another dead shapeshifter wearing his skin, and glanced at his once again beaten younger brother, he couldn't have agreed more.

Shapeshifters really did suck.

The end