Note: This is sort of a continuation of Nothing Else Matters, but you don't really need to read that first, basically Dean was kidnapped and assaulted and this is set about a year later. It's not as dark as the last one but still not very pretty. Anyway thank you so much for taking the time to check it out, I hope you enjoy and please let me know what you think so I can improve.

Warnings: References to prior non-con, self-harm.

Summary: A year after his kidnapping, Dean is moving on with his life, but a chance encounter and an unusual hunt could jeapodise everything he and Sam have worked for.

xxx

You knew it was bad when your shoulders were so cold they hurt. The thought flashed madly into his mind, he was sure he was dying. If he could just get warm, just find some modicum of heat to warm his freezing body. Then, once he had the feeling back in his hands, he'd use them to kill his brother.

He cursed Dean for ditching him at the bar to hook up with some girl and conveniently forgetting to leave him the key to the motel room. Leaving him huddled against the door, waiting for his jerk of a brother to return and occasionally kicking clumps of snow off his boots when his feet disappeared under the growing mounds.

He knew he shouldn't really complain though, it was good to have Dean back to his old self, granted there were times when the past would rear its ugly head and remind them of the horrors that had plagued Dean last year, but for the most part he was back to normal and the trauma of his kidnapping was where it should be, in the past.

Sam was snapped from his reverie by the familiar sound of the Impala pulling in to the parking lot, he squinted against the glare of the headlights, but remained seated, shivering against the door. Dean had that shit eating grin on his face that Sam had missed so much, and he had to remind himself that he was angry right now. By the way Dean was whistling (man he totally didn't want to think about the reason) he was fairly sure he wouldn't dent his ego but damn it he was going to try.

"Aw waiting up for me Sam? You shouldn't have." Dean ruffled Sam's frosty hair as his brother glared up at him.

"I waited in the bar till it closed. Then I walked around for TWO hours and I have NO idea how long I've been sat here, but I do know I am cold, so open the freaking door Dean."

"Whoa! No need to get snappy little bro' you should get yourself some shore leave it'd do you the world of good." He winked down at his brother's shaking form.

Sam was so not happy at how long Dean was taking, so he snatched the key from his hand, his clumsy, numb fingers however didn't seem to cooperate and eventually Dean shoved him out of the way and smoothly clicked the door open, pushing it wide and giving Sam a mocking bow as he scurried into the room.

Having rid himself of his sodden clothing, Sam shivered in sweat pants and a t-shirt.

"Well I hope she was worth me nearly freezing to death?"

From the look on Dean's face Sam knew that the answer was yes, so he shot his brother a glare and dove under the covers, covering his nose so that he could continue the death stare while trying to warm up. But Dean looked happy and confident and he couldn't help but remember when he was traumatised and scared, the nightmares waking him every night, and even though he was paying the price, he didn't mind too much for Dean's happiness, but he sure as hell wasn't about to let him know that.

It had taken a long time, and a lot of Dean having to get used to sharing things that he'd normally keep bottled away, he'd tried that tactic at first but it had ended badly to say the least with Sam having to drag them both out of the river when it had all gotten too much for Dean. There had been many nights when they'd stayed awake till dawn, talking, usually after a vicious nightmare reminded Dean of what he thought was behind him, and Sam had reminded him repeatedly that he had to deal with it, talk to someone, and that someone was Sam.

So Sam was relieved that Dean was walking around with a swagger and a cocky self-assured grin and had to paste his angry expression on his face, turning swiftly away to hide his smile when Dean ruffled his hair again, making him feel like a little kid, as he drifted off to sleep.

xxx

Dean made a nose dive into his pillow, curling his arms around it and burying his face deep, it had become his new favourite sleeping position, having something to hug comforted him, and he sure as hell wasn't getting a stuffed animal. He was exhausted but his mind was still whirring, going over the nights activities, it hadn't exactly been explosive, but it had been good, she'd made him feel wanted and safe, he was still getting back into the swing of things, but it was going well. The first time after it happened they didn't actually have sex, they'd been getting down to it and he'd had a flashback or something and had a minor freak out, where he'd ended up confessing everything which he felt guilty as hell about, some messed up freak wasn't what this girl had been looking for, but she'd listened and held him in her arms then kissed him softly and they fell asleep together. She was the only person apart from Sam that he'd told, not that Sam knew, and after that was when he started feeling strong again.

He knew it wasn't the first time since his ordeal that something had happened with a girl, but he didn't count that one. The first time after it happened did not go well, he'd been drunk and scared and everything had gone too far and he almost hadn't stopped before he... he shook his head fiercely to rid himself of the memories, when he thought about what he almost did he wanted to throw up or drag a blade up his arm just to give him something else to think about.

That was something else he'd tried, he'd only done it a couple of times and it wasn't deep, but it gave him a temporary release, something physical to focus on, he didn't like doing it and he didn't want to do it again, but sometimes when the memories would creep into his mind it was all he could do to keep from grabbing his knife and locking himself away in the bathroom, it made him proud when the moments passed and he'd managed to stay strong.

Snapping his eyes wide he huffed out a breath, unhappy that the thoughts were killing his buzz and making it hard to sleep. He listened to Sam's heavy breathing, matching his own to the slow rhythm, hoping to be lulled off to sleep.

After another half an hour of failed sleeping attempts in a variety of positions he resigned himself to the fact that he wasn't going to get to sleep yet, padding softly over to the table he flipped open Sam's laptop cursing quietly at the beep that sounded ten times louder in the silence of the motel room and, plugging his earphones into the speaker, began to check out YouTube.

Xxx

And that's how Sam found him the following morning, the Potter Puppet Pals frozen on the screen. Sam gingerly touched his brother's shoulder to wake him and Dean bolted up with a start, Sam had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing at the keyboard impressions on his cheek.

"What time is it?" Dean blinked and looked around, the confusion clearing from his eyes.

"11.30. We slept kinda late." Sam ran a hand through his tousled hair "I'm gonna get a shower, then what do you say we get out of here, grab some breakfast and hit the road? Bobby called with a pretty straightforward hunt a couple of states over."

"Sounds good," Dean stretched the kinks out of his back "I'll start packing the car."

xxx

A day on the road had them both itching to get out, neither of them wanting to stay cooped up in the motel room, and so they headed to the bar they'd seen a couple of blocks away, leaving the car so they could relax and enjoy their drinks.

Dean smiled to himself as he watched the effects of the alcohol spread quickly over his brother. Sam was never very good at holding his drink, and though he would never admit it, he always tried to keep up with his big brother. Dean felt the comforting warmth spread through his body, he was happy like this, a few drinks with his brother was all he really needed.

After a few hours Sam was pretty much wasted and Dean had to admit that he too was really feeling it. His vision was swimming slightly and he couldn't stop laughing hysterically as Sam who was apparently mesmerized by the size of his hands compared to a bottle of beer.

"Seriously Dean look! You know what?" He smiled smugly to himself and leaned forwards to whisper "I'm so strong that I could smash this bottle with my hands if I wanted to!" He bounced back in the booth, smiling like he'd just divulged a massive secret.

Dean raised an eyebrow and tried to look stern "We don't want anybody calling the cops though, 'cos you were drunk and disorderly do we?"

"Who?! Tell me who Dean cos I'll smash them too!" Sam looked wildly around the bar, taking in few remaining stragglers, most of them old drunks. Dean took this as their cue to leave.

"Ok Sammy, I think it's time to go, you've scared these people now, they're not gonna call the cops."

"Oh no. I'm sorry. I'm really sorry." Sam proceeded to apologise to everyone they passed on the way out the door, while Dean dragged him by the arm as he loudly announced that the next round was on him.

By the time they got out to the parking lot Sam was leaning heavily on Dean and talking about the beauty of the stars and then the beauty of the snow, if Dean needed any more proof that Sam was a girl, that was it.

"I like it when you talk to me."

Oh, wait, now he's a girl.

"I mean it Dean, you've done so...so good this last year, I'm so proud of you man."

Dean immediately put up the road blocks that would stop him thinking too hard about the meaning of Sam's words. "Yeah yeah, you are such a chick dude."

"No I'm not, I'm a boy!"

Dean snorted a laugh.

"I am, but I love you." Sam kissed the top of Dean's head and Dean groaned loudly.

"Remind me to never let you get this drunk again."

"No, I like being drunk and I...Dean look at the snow it's so white and clean! I have to pee!"

"Well it's not far now."

"NO! Dean I mean it! I have to pee noooooow."

Dean rolled his eyes and dragged his brother over to a nearby alley.

"Just get a move on. I'm so not helping you and if you get busted you're on your own!" he turned his back to give his brother some privacy, smirking as he listened to Sam singing Barry Manilow's Mandy quietly to himself.

"What's up with the singing Sammy?"

"Shhhh! Helps me concentrate!" he immediately recommenced singing while Dean pretended he was a tightrope walker on the edge of the sidewalk, falling swiftly off when he heard a strangled cry from down the alley.

He switched instantly into hunter mode and made his way as stealthily as he could in his current condition, towards the sounds of scuffling, wishing he was packing.

As he got closer he could make out more noises, terrified whimpering, harsh words, panicked breathing. He saw the man first, he wasn't a particularly big guy, but Dean knew that didn't matter, the girl was pressed against the wall, tears streaming down her face, her voice muffled by his hand over her mouth, pushing helplessly against him.

Dean could see the fear in her eyes, see her silently begging to be let go, but he could see there was no chance of that. His gut clenched when he saw the way the man was touching her, he knew what he was trying to do and saw red.

Then everything was a bit of a blur, all happening too fast, Dean felt strangely disconnected, like he was watching a movie and wasn't the one delivering a fast punch to the guy's temple, wrestling him away from the girl and smashing his face into the wall repeatedly. He didn't feel the way his knuckles connected with the man's face again and again, didn't realise when he lost consciousness, was still engrossed in the movie where he kept on punching the prone figure, everything becoming a mess of blood and skin and teeth.

He wasn't quite aware of anything until he felt Sam drag him off the bastard, pulling him backwards and away before running to check for a pulse and phoning for an ambulance, while Dean sat on the concrete and stared numbly down at his bloodied hands. And then Sam was dragging him to his feet again, which refused to cooperate, he just stared at what he'd done until Sam grabbed his face and yelled that they had to leave and he let himself be pulled along.

He wasn't really aware of getting to the motel room, and dimly wondered when Sam who was now peeking out of the window at the sound of sirens, had sobered up.

"What happened to the girl?"

Sam finally turned to face him "She ran. She's ok Dean, she got away."

Dean just nodded dumbly and stared down at his hands which Sam only just seemed to notice. He grabbed the first aid kit and knelt at Dean's feet, not meeting his eyes as he clumsily tended to Dean's hands.

"You're shaking Sammy."

"You could have killed him." Sam still didn't meet his gaze.

"Didn't. Besides, he deserved it."

"That doesn't matter; he was still a person..."

"He was a rapist Sam." The words carried no emotion, and Sam knew, even in his drunken state that Dean had trained himself not to feel.

"I thought you were doing better." Sam instantly regretted his words when Dean's eyes flashed with anger.

"That has nothing to do with it Sam." Dean growled out, "He was a monster and I kicked his ass, end of story." He snatched his hands from Sam's and pulling the covers up, curled on his side in bed, fully dressed with his back to Sam.

Sam continued to kneel by the bed, the alcohol still running through his system making it difficult to think straight. But one thought was coming through clearly, that this could end up being a huge step back for Dean and he really didn't want that. Realising that Dean's hands were still a mess, he got unsteadily to his feet and stood over his brother, reluctant to touch him and be shot down.

"Dean? Dean I need to clean your hands." He remained staring at his brother's unmoving form. "Please, they could get infected."

He took it as a small win when Dean awkwardly threw his hands over his arm, allowing Sam access without any interaction.

Sam resolved to keep watch all night, but the feeling of sobriety soon faded and he passed out cold on the end of Dean's bed.

xxx

It didn't take too long before Dean felt Sam slump at the bottom of his bed and the soft drunken snoring to start. He stayed curled on his side not wanting to move and wake him which would surely result in more questions.

He was freaked out, he was very happy to admit that to himself but Sam was another matter, he didn't want Sam to worry even more, his brother had started relaxing more now, he seemed to be settling back into a more normal routine, in fact they both were, and Dean didn't want to ruin it. But the night's events had shaken him, and he just wanted to crawl back inside himself just for a little while, just until the worst of it went away.

He didn't think sleep would have been possible, not with the way his mind was racing and the quiet irrational fear that had wrapped its icy tendrils around his heart making it impossible to close his eyes and the strong need to protect Sam and make sure he never had to go through what Dean did. But Sam's breathing was soothing and he found himself fighting harder and harder to keep awake before he gave in and let sleep drag him down into disturbed dreams of monsters with human faces.

xxx

Sam's stomach rolled at the strong smell of coffee that invaded his senses and put his head in his hands as Dean placed a steaming mug in front of him on the table he was currently slumped at.

"Come on, drink up, it'll help."

The look Sam shot him was scathing and Dean couldn't help but chuckle to himself as his brother grimaced his way through the coffee. Sam really wasn't very good at handling his drink, but he had to sober up for the hunt and it was quite entertaining.

Sam glanced up at his brother "You ok?"

Dean had seriously hoped to avoid this conversation, he'd held on to the tiny hope that Sam would be too drunk to remember or even better would just get the freaking hint and leave it!

"I'm fine."

The silence hung in the air.

"Talk about cutting the tension with a knife." Dean quipped.

Sam gave a half hearted laugh before the silence settled over them once more.

"Dean can you just..."

"Look Sam..."

They simultaneously started and stopped talking, Sam trying to catch Dean's eye and Dean trying even harder to avoid it, before Sam sighed.

"Dean, you really freaked me out last night. I just want to make sure you're ok. It's totally understandable if you need some time, or to talk or whatever."

"Seriously Sam, were you born with girl parts and these facts were just not mentioned to me?"

At Sam's puppy dog expression he prepared himself for just the right amount of lying and a tiny bit of truth to satisfy his brother.

"Ok, I'll admit it, I was a little freaked, but mainly cos I just wasn't expecting it...obviously." He tried a joke but Sam's expression was just as tense so he continued. "I just got caught up in the heat of the moment, and he got off easy, but it wasn't about me and seriously I'm ok. I promise."

He seriously hated lying to his brother but also hoped that Sam wouldn't see straight through him so he flashed him his most reassuring but yeah-it-was-a-weird-night-but-thanks-for-being-there bullshit grin. Which Sam seemed to accept and dragged himself off to the shower while Dean dug his nails into his palms and hoped it was just going to hurt for the day.

xxx

tbc

thank you for reading, please let me know what you think :)