A day after Dean came off the ventilator-painful gagging and panic, another memory Sam had sincerely hoped to forget- he woke up. It was a slow wakening, Dean blinking in obvious confusion for a few moments, eyes darting about the room. His eyes first widened, then narrowed when he saw Sam.

"Sam?" He whispered, so quietly Sam nearly missed it. It hurt to see the look of utter shock on Dean's face, even more when he appeared to be suspicious.

"Yeah, I' m here, Dean," Sam answered. Dean shook his head and winced at the movement.

"Whoa," he muttered, clearly dizzy as he struggled to regain some composure. He blinked up at Sam a second later. He mumbled something incoherent, but Sam knew what he was asking.

"I'm here, Dean. I left Ruby and came back, okay? And I'm not going back. I've been doing some thinking..." He trailed off, slightly frustrated, as Dean's eyelids slipped closed and fell into sleep once more, wanting to get the conversation he was dreading out of the way.

The next day, Dean woke up again, this time much more aware of his surroundings. When he saw Sam, he smiled a bit, looked at him with the old smirk he'd used so many times. Sam felt extremely guilty at this quick forgiveness and it must have shown on his face as Dean's smile fell. Holy crap, he still looked weak and vulnerable.

"Listen, Dean-" he started, but his older brother waved him off with a weak brush of his hand.

"No Sam, s'okay," he mumbled. Sam shook his head.

"No it isn't," he argued, but Dean waved him off again.

"Sam, I should be the one saying sorry." Sam blinked, stunned.

"What the hell are you talking about?" He demanded, suddenly somewhat angry with his stubborn, proud-ass brother.

"I never really thought about you," Dean said, as if that explained everything. Sam opened his mouth to argue, but Dean kept talking in that weak, somewhat breathy voice Sam wasn't used to hearing. "I never thought about what it would be like for you, to finally get used to having me dead and get your own life, and then bam! I'm back, surprise, hope you're happy even though you probably just wish I wasn't around to drag you down all the time. I never thought about how you wouldn't know how to react to me just popping out of the ground, suddenly alive and well and as annoying as ever. And I understand how much you need to be on your own, have your own space and be able to do what you want, so...If you want to split up, I understand. Okay?"

Sam had to put forth a monumental effort to keep himself from crying, and could feel tears welling up in his eyes. Of course Dean would blame himself, would try to keep the guilt off of Sam, but thinking that Sam hated having him back...When had he let his own brother think that? What the hell kind of brother did that? He could see the pain in Dean's eyes as he told Sam that he wouldn't mind splitting up, liar, he knew how much the splintered remains of his family meant to Dean. Sam took a deep breath, still felt the wetness pressing at his eyes.

"No Dean. No. First of all, I never, ever, got used to you being gone. I woke up in the morning expecting you to be in the bed next to me, snoring all loud and tangled up in your sheets 'cause you are physically incapable of sleeping still. I expected to find a pot of crappy coffee on already when I woke up because you're always up first. I expected to get annoyed with all the bad, old music you love so damn much, but it was freaking quiet in the car. Dean, I never got used to you being gone, and that...that made it harder to get used to having you back, Dean.

"I was so scared that if I let things go back to the way they had been, I'd lose you again, so I kept myself from getting too close to you, from letting you mean too much to me, from being that person I can't function right without. And I thought that if I took care of Lilith, I wouldn't have to worry about that, but Ruby was the only person-thing- that could help. But I don't care about that anymore Dean, okay? I finally figured out where I should be. I need to be here, with you, because if I'm not, things aren't right, and they aren't okay. So don't ever, ever think that I don't need you, or that I think you're dragging me down, right? It's not true. You're my big brother, Dean. I'll always need you."

Sam was surprised to find that the tears he'd been containing had rolled down his cheeks, even more surprised to see that Dean, Dean had a tear rolling down his cheek. Sam attributed the show of emotion to the pain meds and blood loss, but it still hit him hard. Dean needed him too.

"Damn, Sammy," he muttered, finally. "That was beautiful. You should write cards for Hallmark or something." Sam snorted despite his best efforts, and Dean laughed weakly.

"M' really tired," he said finally, eyes starting to drift shut of their own accord. Sam smiled.

"Sleep then. I'll be here."

And he was.

A/N So I think that's it! First Supernatural fic ever! I'm thinking about maybe writing a sequel. We'll see how it goes.