Disclaimer: They belong to Kripke and the CW. I just like to play in their world every once in awhile.

Author's Note: A big thank you to all who reviewed and liked the story enough to put it on your story alerts. And, I just have to say, my brother showed me the promo for this week's episode (and probably clips of future ones as well). All I have to say is we're definitely in for a ride. I love and hate the writers at the same time. Sad, but true. Which is why my story's only fanfiction!

Anyway, this is the 2nd and final chapter. I hope you enjoy and like it enough to leave a review! My inbox is empty and lonely after all.

Now, on with the story….

Chapter 2

Sam was suspicious. Dean had let him go. "Let" being the key word. Sam hadn't walked out without his brother's consent like usual. No, Dean had let him go.

Maybe the Apocalypse was really doing a number on the world.

He wondered briefly if Dean had hit his head before arriving back at the motel, but his brother had seemed completely conscious of what he was doing.

That was the odd part. Dean hated being alone. Hunting alone. It was partly the reason he had gotten Sam at Stanford to begin with.

But Sam had left. Had taken the keys and willingly gone. Why did he feel so guilty about it then?

"We used to be in this together. We used to have each other's backs."

The words kept replaying themselves over and over in his head.

Sam had no doubt the words Dean had told him under the spell of the siren were any less true in his head than they had been when they were first spoken.

It was hard. They were no longer on the same page anymore. A lot had changed.

But still… did that mean Sam really thought he could do this alone? Find and kill Lilith without his brother having his back?

Yeah, he had Ruby for help, but it just wasn't the same. Dean was, well… Dean. Even at school, there had been an empty space he'd tried so hard to cover. And for awhile, it had worked.

But Dean had always been a large part of his life. He didn't think he was willing to give that up no matter how many Liliths he had to kill.

Sam hit the steering wheel angrily and sped up. He leaned over slightly to turn the radio on. Finding nothing except a replay of some Britney Spears song, he shut the thing off, frustrated. He heard Dean in his head making fun of the fact he even knew a Britney Spears song anyway.

Was Dean right? Was finding Lilith more important than everything?

Maybe he was turning into their father. John was just as relentless in killing the Yellow Eyed Demon as Sam was of killing Lilith.

Sam just wanted to put an end to all that was going on. After all, if Lilith was stopped, there would be no impending Apocalypse. Unless, of course, she was in league with someone no one knew about and that would definitely complicate everything.

Sam tried not to think about that. He would go to Ruby. He would hone his skills, and together they would kill Lilith once and for all.

It was funny how that plan sounded a lot better when he thought he could at least convince Dean to come with him.

Sadly, he knew what Dean wanted. Finding Lilith definitely wasn't one of them. Not at the moment anyway.

Dean wanted them to continue from where they left off before he died. Sam wanted the whole nightmare to end. He didn't want to be doing this when he was older. Sam wanted him and Dean to be able to get old without having anything breathing down their necks.

It was hard to want that when his brother didn't even think he'd make it past thirty-five.

Sam still had hope. It was dwindling, but it was still there.

All of a sudden, a heavy guilt washed over him. Dean's betrayed face played across his memory. His brother had opened up to him about hell, like Sam had wanted him to; and all he'd done was throw the words right back at him.

The past couple of weeks, he'd been seeing surprise marring his brother's features whenever Sam would walk back into the room. It was as if Dean expected Sam to leave at any moment after the events with the siren.

And he had. Again. Willingly.

Sam didn't know why, but each time, his brother took him back. And each time, the wall Dean had built around himself grew a little higher.

The anger had ebbed into a pulsing feeling of dread as he picked up his phone. Scrolling down to Dean's name, Sam hit the call button.

The phone rang. Three, four, five times.

This is Dean, leave a message.

Sam quickly checked his watch. Weird. Dean should've been back at the motel by now. It had been a couple of hours since he'd left. Worry creeping in, Sam dialed his brother again.

This is Dean, leave a message.

"Dammit, Dean," Sam muttered, flipping a U-turn and almost ramming into the railing in his haste.

Once the car was done swerving, Sam floored the gas pedal, and really hoped there were no cops around. He didn't know if he'd stop if there were.

Sam wondered if Howard Mulligan felt at all alone after his brother died. Wondered if Howard would've done anything to get his brother back only to completely forget what he'd wanted to begin with.

It suddenly occurred to him that Howard would've found a way to vent his feelings. There was that leather-bound journal they'd found the first time they were at the house. They'd burned the journal, but Sam remembered there had been a couple of missing pages… and crap. That was it.

Sam was twenty miles out when he dialed Dean's phone, praying to whoever was listening that his brother would just pick up.

This is Dean, le—

Sam cursed and floored the gas once more, blowing dust and dirt into the air as he sped back into Hell, Michigan.

And hoped he wasn't too late.

2222222222

It took him a little less than an hour to make it back. Dean would be proud.

Sam wasn't stupid enough to rush back to the motel. He knew if Dean wasn't picking up his phone, then something had happened inside the house.

Sure enough, as Sam pulled up to Howard Mulligan's withered house, the black Chevy sat on the side of the street across from the old place.

Getting quickly out of the rental, Sam moved to the Impala and looked inside. He didn't know why he was bothering. He knew Dean wasn't inside. Making sure, he tailed back and unlocked the trunk, lifting the hatch and taking everything he thought he'd need.

A sawed-off shotgun loaded with rock salt, check. A bowie knife Sam slipped inside his boot, check. After those, he grabbed and opened his duffle bag. A flashlight, oil, matches, and the first-aid kit were the last to make it out of the car before he closed the trunk and headed towards the front door.

The lock had already been picked by Dean. Sam opened the door slowly, the hinges squeaking loudly in the quiet night. He turned on his flashlight and walked cautiously into the house.

"Dean?" Sam called.

Nothing. In fact, the house was too silent. Sam moved further into the foyer.

"Dean?" he tried again. "C'mon, man, give me something."

Something must have heard him, but it wasn't his brother. The quick temperature drop in the house had Sam immediately reaching for his shotgun.

Howard Mulligan's ghost appeared directly in front of him, his young, innocent features warped into a menacing glare. Taken aback, Sam stumbled backwards. Taking proper hold of his gun, he aimed and fired at the spirit.

It disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. He turned the light right and left, making sure the spirit wouldn't surprise him. Walking forward, shotgun and flashlight poised in front of him, Sam lost his footing near a hole in the floor.

A hole that wasn't there the last time they were in the house.

Realization hit him faster than rock salt as he moved to his knees and looked through the human sized hole. Worry tightened his stomach muscles while he moved the flashlight over the ground below. There was nothing visible but dark and dust.

"Dean?" Sam's voice was hopeful.

There were a few moments of silence before Dean answered.

"Sam?" It was breathy and barely audible, but Sam heard it. He had hoped for a "Sammy", but he would take what he could get.

"Yeah, it's me. You ok?" Well, that was a completely stupid question, but he had to keep his brother talking until he could get down there and assess the damage himself.

A stifled groan was Dean's reply, but it got Sam moving. He turned his head every which way until he found a small set of stairs leading to the basement in the corner of the room.

"Hold on, Dean, I'm coming down." There was no answer, but Sam could hear a slight shuffle and Dean's suddenly loud, panting breath.

Howard Mulligan didn't appear again, probably sensing no danger to his domain and Sam was grateful.

Taking the stairs two or three at a time, he made it down to the basement and over to Dean in record time.

Dean was a mess. He was sprawled on several pieces of wood, his lower left arm was at an odd angle, and there was blood dripping down the side of his head from a gash behind his ear.

But that wasn't what grabbed Sam's attention as he settled himself on Dean's right side; it was the jagged piece of wood sticking out of his brother's right thigh. Blood was slowly seeping from the leg, but the piece of wood was probably keeping Dean from bleeding out. Sam took in a deep breath.

As if sensing the younger man, Dean stirred, turned his head toward Sam, and heavily blinked open his eyes.

"S'm?" Dean slurred, pain lines creasing his forehead.

"Dean, hey," Sam soothed, himself or Dean, he wasn't sure. "This how it is, dude? As soon as I leave, you manage to get yourself into trouble?"

Dean tried to shrug, but grimaced and coughed instead. "It's… a gift."

His brother was sickly pale, leaving the light smattering of freckles across his nose looking dark in contrast. Dean's eyes, when they did open, were glassy and pained. His mouth was in a grim line, holding it all back.

"How… bad's'it?" Dean asked, his right hand fisting just above the wound.

"I'm not gonna lie, Dean. It's bad," Sam said honestly, trying to keep his voice even. He wouldn't panic. He would get Dean through this. "But, hey, we've had worse, right? It'll be ok. You'll be ok."

His brother shifted and clamped down on his jaw, his breathing harsh through his nose.

Dean weakly squinted at Sam as he pulled out the first-aid kit, his gaze unfocused. "You… came back?"

It was the first time Dean had looked at him directly in the eyes since the siren. Sam didn't stop what he was doing, only continued with blurred eyes. "You thought I wouldn't?" He sniffed softly, finding the medical scissors and gauze. He wiped the slightly oozing blood off.

Dean closed his eyes and shrugged with his right shoulder. "Not… the first… time." He breathed heavily, swallowing convulsively. Sam would add concussion to the list.

Sam wondered if Dean had stopped giving him second chances and had just given up.

"I called your phone. You didn't pick up, and well, y'know…." Sam began cutting Dean's jeans from the bottom up. Knowing it would hurt, he took his brother's hand and placed it on his ankle. "I hope you weren't fond of these jeans, Dean, 'cause they've gotta come off."

"Fine… but you've… gotta buy… me… new ones, you… frisky bastard."

Sam choked off a laugh and continued cutting, trying his hardest not to jar Dean's leg too much. Dean's breathing was fine until Sam got to the area closest to the wound. As Sam began cutting through the fabric nearest the wound, Dean began taking in sharp, staccato sounding breaths.

"Hey, hey, take it easy, Dean, I'm almost done, alright." The grip on his ankle tightened considerably as Sam cut around the edges of the wood. It was a good thing they'd both gotten tetanus shots recently.

When Sam was finished, Dean was practically gray, sweating, and slightly flushed. Sam himself felt sick at the sight of the large wood splinters peeking out of the flesh. Leave it to his brother to impale himself on a jagged piece of wood.

The skin was slightly puffy and red near the edges; and because Sam knew he had to eventually move Dean to get him to the hospital, so the top part had to come off.

"God, Dean. The whole thing went straight through." Sam suddenly wished he hadn't left. This would've never happened if he hadn't.

"Never do… anything… half way… Sammy," Dean breathed raggedly.

Sam laughed. He didn't care if it sounded hysterical. He was "Sammy" again, even if Dean wasn't completely aware of it. He placed a hand on Dean's shoulder. Sam knew the hard part came next and his brother needed a hospital. He left his hand there momentarily, frowning at the heat.

Dean's eyelids fluttered as he tried to shift his leg. "Dean, hey. You've gotta stay with me, man. Just a little longer, okay?"

Dean didn't reply, but blinked owlishly until the pained green eyes settled on Sam. They were still glassy, but relatively lucid, if a bit unfocused due to the concussion. He pulled his knife free out of his boot and moved it to the wood, but Dean's voice interrupted him.

"You… burn the… pages?" Dean rasped, his chest heaving.

"How'd you know…?" Sam held the piece of wood from the top edges and placed the knife slightly above the leg.

Dean let out a pained gasp at the slight movement. "Figured it… out too… late…anyway."

Sam began slicing through the wood. The hand on his ankle clamped down hard and Sam wished the stupid process wasn't taking so long.

Dean had his eyes screwed shut, and was taking in quick gulps of air. Halfway through, Dean stifled a groan, but tightened his hand on his brother's ankle so hard that Sam couldn't feel it anymore. His other hand flexed convulsively.

He wished he could take the pain from Dean, but he just resorted to hurrying the process along without causing any more damage to his brother's leg.

Sam was almost finished, when Dean began muttering, "I can't, Sam. I... can't."

"Yes, you can, Dean," Sam reassured. "I need you awake. Almost done, alright? Then you can sleep, ok?"

"It… hurts…" Dean cried out.

Sam worked faster, his forehead beading with sweat. "I know it does. You just gotta hang on for me, Dean. Almost there."

Dean's jaw worked. "Sammy, I…"

The next three things happened simultaneously. The last top piece of wood was harshly removed from the rest still embedded in Dean's thigh.

Sam gasped.

Dean screamed.

And then there was just silence.

Sam leaned forward and panted heavily, dropping his knife next to him on the floor. He felt like his brother's scream was still reverberating in his mind. He looked down at Dean who was far too pale and too still.

Sam's eyes burned, but he still had a job to do. Grabbing a good amount of his outer shirt, he tore it and began wrapping it securely around the wound. He made sure it was firmly in place and that the piece of wood was secure until he could get Dean to the nearest hospital.

Dean didn't stir once.

Sam didn't know whether he should be worried or grateful. Slowly, he peeled Dean's slackened hand away from his now throbbing ankle. There would be bruises there in the morning, but he could care less. There were more pressing issues to deal with.

Sam took that same arm and placed it around his shoulder. He used the leverage to lift Dean's upper body. It wouldn't be easy. Dean was no light weight, but Sam didn't feel up to the more practical fireman's carry.

Sam tucked Dean's head securely under his chin so it wouldn't roll. He sat there for a moment listening to his brother's labored breathing and felt the heat radiating from his skin. Gathering strength from his unconscious brother, Sam gently placed his hands behind Dean's back and under his knees.

Sam groaned and swayed under the weight, but remained upright. Glancing around, he spotted the weapons and the other things he brought with him. He would come back later. Dean needed a hospital, and Sam was wasting time.

Thankfully, there was a side door leading outside and Sam was suddenly grateful for small favors.

Making sure Dean was secure against him, he leaned his chin down to brush his brother's sweat covered hair.

"It's not too late for anything, Dean."

Walking out of the house and into the chilly night air, Sam was sure he'd never been more grateful that Dean hadn't let him take the car.

222222222

Sam was tired and beat. He'd been sitting in the same chair the whole night and most of the day, only getting up to get some food or use the bathroom. And only after the nurses assured him that Dean wouldn't wake up in his absence.

Twice, his brother had woken up groggily, mumbling something incoherent and just as quickly going back to sleep.

But Sam would wait. He closed his eyes and recalled what the doctor had told him after Dean's six hour surgery.

"Your brother's a lucky one, Mr. Cogsworth," the doctor, her nametag read Marie Rodriguez, had said. Sam didn't think luck had anything to do with it. "Any closer, and the wood would've cut through a major artery." Sam had paled at that. The doctor hadn't noticed and went on, "Still, it did take awhile to take out. Tricky things. There was some extensive bleeding, bruised ribs, and a concussion but your brother seems to be the fighting kind. With some antibiotics for infection and plenty of rest, he should be on his feet and flirting with our nurses in no time."

"I'm sure he'll be happy to hear that," Sam had said. "Thank you."

Sam had been allowed to see him a half hour later and hadn't stopped keeping watch since. In the afternoon, he'd taken a nap and called Bobby, telling him what'd happened. He'd just needed someone to talk to and Bobby was the closest the thing they had to family.

A day and a half had passed and Dean still hadn't woken up. Sam was beginning to get anxious and fidgety. A nurse named Heather (for which Dean would say "I told you so") must've picked up on this when she walked in to check Dean's vitals.

"He's gonna be ok, honey," she soothed. Heather was an older, motherly looking nurse, whose features were nothing but kind.

Sam's head went up sharply. "Oh, yeah, I know. It's just… is he still supposed to be asleep?"

Heather waved her hand dismissively. "Oh my, yes. Your brother's in a lot of pain right now. With that, antibiotics and a hefty dose of painkillers, he'll be out for awhile." She patted his knee reassuringly. "Don't worry though, dear. Just give him a little time and he'll make it back to you."

Sam nodded, his throat thick. Nurse Heather gave his shoulder a squeeze before leaving him alone with his thoughts again. Was it wrong that he just wanted Dean to wake up and say something, anything so his brother's voice would replace the pained scream still ringing in Sam's ears?

A few hours later, Sam was starting to fall back asleep when Dean stirred. He opened his eyes quickly and waited while his brother slowly woke up.

Dean's heavy lidded eyes finally fluttered open and focused tiredly on Sam. There were still pain lines creasing his forehead, and he was still pale, but he looked a lot better than he had when Sam had first brought him into the emergency room.

"Hey, Dean, how you feelin'?" Sam asked, feeling a sense of relief at seeing Dean awake. He leaned forward in his chair and brushed his thumb over Dean's knuckles. If his brother thought it was too touchy-feely, he didn't let on.

"Like a freakin' elephant walked over me," Dean answered, blinking drowsily. He shifted and groaned miserably. "More than once."

"Yeah, well, just promise me you won't get yourself impaled on anything else, ok." Sam mustered a tired smile.

"You know I can't make promises I can't keep," Dean stated, turning his head and swallowing heavily.

Sam immediately reached for the sick bag next to the bed. Dean waved his hand dismissively.

"Don' need it. 'M fine." Dean patted Sam's hand weakly.

Sam nodded. "What happened, Dean?"

Dean squinted against the light. Sam noticed and leaned over to turn some of them off. "I got screwed, Sam, tha's what happen'd. Stupid Howard didn' even lemme make it to the room 'fore he attacked. Jus' landed on the wrong part of the floor an' fell through. Stupid freakin' Hell."

"You landed on the wrong part of the basement, too, you jerk," Sam said thickly. He wouldn't let Dean know how scared and worried he'd really been.

"I never was the graceful type," Dean put in, attempting to shrug and failing miserably. "You should," he shifted uncomfortably, avoiding Sam's eyes again, "get back to the house an' burn the missing pages, then head out."

Dean's shuttered, "I don't care" attitude was not going to work this time. Sam shook his head. He'd been thinking about their situation a lot. Hurtful words had been said, and they couldn't be taken back. But Sam thought Lilith could wait since he'd made the decision to come back.

"You're not getting rid of me that easily, Dean. There's plenty of time to take care of the ghost." Besides, the hunt and anything else had stopped being important as soon as Dean got hurt.

The confused, half-lidded look Dean was wearing told Sam his brother was falling back into the clutches of unconsciousness. He would make it quick, but it had to be said.

"I'm staying, Dean," Sam stated firmly, picking at his brother's calloused fingers.

"What abou'…?"

"That's not important right now." Sam sighed. Whatever had been broken between the brothers couldn't be fixed with a few assuaged words. They had to start from scratch. And Sam was going to start now. "Look, there's a lot going on, but we'll deal with it when we get there, alright?"

Sam didn't know if they were walking the same path anymore. But the panic Sam had felt when Dean hadn't answered his phone brought some things into some sort of warped perspective. They were still brothers and he wasn't willing to throw that away and lose Dean again. Sam just hoped that Dean would be able to forgive like he had so many times in the past.

"So, yer not gonna go all emo on me…" or leave? Somehow, Sam heard what Dean wasn't saying, too.

"I'm not the only one anymore." Sam smirked. "Apparently I'm rubbing off on you." Dean had bared his soul more than once the past few months.

"Whate'er, dude. Yer still the girl of the fam'ly an' you know it." Dean shut his eyes, then blinked them open quickly. He repeatedly kept startling himself awake, peeking at Sam and then closing his eyes again. "Get some sleep, Sam. Ya look like crap."

"Have you seen yourself lately, Dean?" Sam shot back, amused at his brother's concern.

"Still look be'er'n you." Sam rolled his eyes, but smiled. When his brother was well enough to leave, they would get the hell out of Hell. Dean wasn't the only one with a dislike toward the town.

Dean closed his eyes, turning his head towards Sam and sinking into the pillow. He smiled sadly at the trust Dean still held on to.

Sam watched him until the pain lines smoothed out and Dean's breathing grew heavy. Sam picked up the folded newspaper he'd been reading, not letting go of his brother's hand, and opened it.

Things were still far from ok. The broken bridge was still spewing water and he had no clue where it would take them, or if they were even ready for the ride.

But when Dean woke up a few hours later, Sam was still there.

The End.