The Nutcracker.

Summary. . . . . . Trying to bring an ill Sam some Christmas cheer, Dean unwittingly places his brother in danger.

Disclaimer. . . . . Still only playing with Kripkies toys, but boy am I having fun!

A.N. . . . . . . Thanks as always for reading, and I hope that you enjoy chapter 15.

John collapsed into the stiff plastic chair, his knees buckling as the doctors words registered. "Some second degree burns to Sam's stomach, arms and legs. Carvings etched into his chest, infection settling in. Deep shock and hypothermia combining to aggravate the flu he had been battling resulting in pneumonia taking hold of his weakened system, a fever of a hundred and four raging within his son's body, a fifty-fifty chance he would not make it back." He dropped his head into his hands as the doctor carried on, few words making it past his guilt riddled thoughts. "Aggressive antibiotics for the pneumonia, fever reducers, fluid and nutrient I.V's, intubation to ease the stress on his struggling, debilitated lungs, naproxen to alleviate the burn pain and Mycitracin to prevent infection, a sedative administered to help his body receive the rest it desperately needed. . . . . ." The list went on and on, John's worry and guilt intensifying with each action that was announced.

He stared blankly into space after the doctor had retreated, his chair strategically placed to the side of Sam's bed, so that he could see both the door and the window, his heavy head resting in his hands. Although dewy, he refused to allow the tears that brimmed his eyes to fall, there would be a time and place for that after both his boys were fit and healthy again, right now he needed to be strong. He rubbed a hand through hair that felt dirty, gritty trailing the limb down his head to rest on the back of his neck, his head dropping to his chest, a silent pray sent out to anyone who was listening. He barely reacted as the door to Sam's room opened, in his heart he already knew who was entering, without looking up he spoke.

"You should be resting, getting your strength back."

"Sam needs me here."

"Sam needs you to be strong, that means rest."

"He'd be here if it was me. I'm not leaving Dad, don't try and make me, I'll always find a way back. Sam needs me."

John looked up into the distraught, drained face of his eldest son, the normally cheeky eyes, dull and saddened, a look of pure guilt adorning his features, self-reproach seemingly emanating from his very being. John felt his own guilt rise as he witnessed first hand what a hunters lifestyle had done to his children, an eight year old traumatized and facing a battle for life, and a twelve year old acting more like a twenty year old, accepting almost fatherly responsibility for a child that was only his brother, and blaming himself for something that was beyond his control. Deciding to start making amends for mistakes past from this moment on, John beckoned Dean to his side, pulling the reluctant boy into his arms once he had gotten close enough. He held tight even as Dean struggled to get free, whispering words all the while into his ear.

"It'll be okay. Sam will beat this. It wasn't your fault son, none of this."

As he spoke Dean's struggles gained in strength as he fought to get away from words and comfort he did want to hear or feel, words and comfort he didn't think he deserved, he spat back words of his own as his attempts proved to be in vain. "He was taken on my watch! How can this not be my fault. I should have been more careful. I should have kept him at home. I shouldn't have taken him to the mall." Tears began to fall the more he spoke, until great big sobs wracked his small frame, the rest of his sentences coming out stuttered as he fought against his emotions." He knew something was wrong, but he wouldn't tell me what, why wouldn't he tell me? I should have made him tell me. I should have made him tell me."

John held tighter to his son as he burrowed his face into his fathers neck, his body shaking as his feelings flowed. He gently stroked Dean's short hair, giving much needed comfort to a son that had been denied it for so long. He gently picked his son up and cradled him in his lap as exhaustion and pain won out and he cried himself to sleep, his own body giving out soon after, a worried nurse finding them both that way as she entered in the hope that the missing twelve year old would be in there.

For a week they watched and waited, prayed and promised, begged and beseeched, their hopes rising as Sam seemed to beat his fever, only to fall as infection set in, he'd beat the infection, only for his fever to come back; setting off a vicious cycle that the desperately ill child's body just couldn't seem to break out of. Bobby managed to persuade John to leave for a few hours every now and then as the wait increased, but no matter how hard they tried, Dean refused to budge from Sam's side, crying himself into fitful sleeps every night, talking himself hoarse as he told Sam just how brave he was, how much of a fighter he was, of all the things they would do, if his brother would just wake; yet Sam's weakened body and soul slept on.

Both father and son had been joyous when after ten days Sam seemed to have turned the corner in his fight, his fingers and toes twitching, his eyes roaming about beneath closed lids, his face creasing as he battled to wake, both men encouraging the youngest member of their family to keep trying, both men crying as with one last push, Sam's eyes finally opened; confusion and pain evident in the glassy orbs. Leaning over his baby, John spoke. "Hey son, it's good to have you back." As Dean whispered. "Well it's about time!" Sam responding with a weak smile, blinking tiredly once before succumbing to tiredness once more.

The more often he woke, the more often Sam astounded the doctors with his recovery, his strength returning with a vengeance as both John and Dean mollycoddled him so much, he fought to get back to health, anxious to get away from all the attention. By the end of the second week he was ready to be discharged with strict instructions to take things easy, and a list of medications and instructions, the only concern left was his inability to remember anything that had happened, the doctors informing John that in some cases when a person was a victim of a hideous crime, they would hide their memories so deep, sometimes they would never remember what they had been through, this was what he suspected in Sam. John's heart ached that one day Sam could remember, and be put through all this again.

As they waited for a nurse to bring a wheelchair, John stepped away from his poker playing son's eager to talk to Caleb and Bobby, wanting to know if there was any chance of the nutcracker making a return, and just what his attachment to Sam meant, Caleb answering for them both.

"It's locked up good and tight John, we shouldn't have anymore trouble with it. This is the only key to the storage unit." He said, as he handed over the small steel key. "You'll be the only one who'll be able to get in or out." He paused before adding. "A part of Sam will always be connected to it, but both Bobby and I believe that the ritual stopped the transference of Sam's energy for now, and that as long as he stays away from it, he'll be okay."

"So alls I have to do is never tell the boys about the lock up, and Sam will be okay?"

"Yes."

Sam placed his hand down, his full house beating Dean's two pairs, the seventh straight game in a row he had won. He'd started suspecting Dean of letting him win after the second game but had allowed his brother to continue liking the smile that lit up Dean's face every time he did. He looked over to the far side of the room towards where his Dad, Bobby and Caleb were conversing in whispers. "Dean? What are they talking about?"

"Probably figuring out who's gonna drive us to the cabin, just ignore them. You ready to get outta here?"

"I guess."

"What do you mean, you guess?"

"I dunno, I guess I'm just scared. I really want to remember what happened Dean. Why are you all keeping me in the dark? Why wont you tell me? Please Dean, what happened? How did I end up here?"

"Don't ask me that Sam." Dean replied, hurting inside at having to lie to Sam.

"But. . . . . . . . . ." Sam started, not seeing Dean's discomfort, or his gradually increasing anger at being put in this situation.

"Sam!" Dean ground out, instantly regretting his tone as Sam shrank into the bed.

"I'm sorry Dean, I didn't mean to pry, it's just hard you know."

"I know Sammy, and I'm not mad at you, I promise." Dean answered. He turned away trying to calm his anger back, not realizing how his actions would look to Sam.

Sam's stomach lurched as Dean turned away, he hated not remembering, hated what his constant asking what happened was doing to his brother. Reaching down to the bag he had asked his Dad to bring in, he pulled out the presents he had spent so long lovingly wrapping. Tapping Dean on the shoulder, he waited for him to look his way before handing them over. "I'm sorry they're late. I hope that you like them?"

Tears sprung to Dean's eyes as he looked at the two small Christmas gifts. "I can't take these Sam, I don't deserve them." He spoke as he tried to give the presents back.

Sam's own eyes watered, thinking he had yet again upset his brother. "Why Dean? Have I done something wrong? Why wont you take them?"

"I'm not a good enough brother to deserve these Sam."

"Dean, you're the best. You take care of me, you always put me ahead of yourself. You deserve these, please take them."

Picking up the presents, Dean nodded his head. Slowly opening the gifts he pulled out a brand new ACDC t-shirt, and a cassette for his walkman. He coughed and wiped at his wet eyes before turning back to Sam. "Thanks." He said before adding. "Come on, lets get going." Leading a still unsteady Sam over to the chariot that awaited him, Dean took the handles and led his brother out of the room, a new determination to always look after Sam growing inside him.

He lay bound and waiting, biding his time until he could rise again, his revenge now turning away from the people who had originally changed him, his rage now fixed on a new enemy, one that one day would pay.

The End.

A.N. . . . . . . . Dun, dun, dunnnnnn! Sequel anyone? I'd like to thank everyone who has read, reviewed and added this story to their favs. I hope that the ending was okay? I'll be back soon with a new fic, until then, take care, Peanut x