It's Just How You Look At It

"Never! No! Not in a million years!" Dean Winchester scoffed as he turned his attention back to the road. He skillfully made the purring '67 Impala speed up. "I can't believe it, Sam. You really expect my baby…" He gently patted the dashboard. "… To play that?" With horror, the older hunter pointed with a gasp to the CD his younger brother Sam held in his hand.

"What?" Sam said with innocent hazel eyes. "I'd bet you anything that you haven't heard of anything by Miranda Lambert, Dean."

"Doesn't matter," Dean immediately replied back. "It's country music. Country, Sammy!" he laughed, using his little brother's nickname. "Do you really think she wants to play some singing hick-chick with a banjo?"

Sam bit his lip in frustration, but no anger was found in either Winchester. "What does it matter? This chick rocks, Dean." Sam put the CD back into the glove compartment. "Mark my words, if you listen to this, you'll love it."

Dean reached over to shut the compartment with a slam. "I'll told you once, Sam, and I'll tell you again. I don't do Country!"

Giving up for now, Sam, leaned back against the passenger seat. "Fine. Whatever, dude," he sneered. After a few moments of comfortable silence, Sam started to talk again. "So, where are we headed anyway? You seemed really anxious to get out of Yorkton."

"Oh, well, you know how it is…" Dean replied in an effort to try to brush off his brother's concern.

Once Dean had been rescued from Hell, he'd become extremely restless. This wasn't the first time he'd left a town out of haste when a hunt was finished. For decades, Dean had been complete restrained, not to mention tortured. Restrain was one of the worst things in Hell for Dean. He always was a free spirit.

Sam didn't verbally respond to Dean. All he did was look down at the car floor. He wanted to understand what Dean went through down in the Pit, but knowing and understanding were two different things. Although it was Dean who was in Hell, Sam suffered greatly, too. What could be worse than having to live, day after day, knowing that your brother was burning and rotting in Hell for you, and there wasn't a damn thing you could do about it?

With the laughter and banter that was gone from before, the two hunters continued to drive to the town of Byhill, Arizona in silence.

**********

"This place isn't half bad…" Dean admired while nodding his head and looking around the motel.

"Oh yeah," Sam said with disgust. "It's Caesar's Palace." He sat of the bed with a thump and dust particles came flying up into the air from the impact. Sam expelled an exaggerated cough as he started to unpack.

"You hungry?" asked Dean, although he didn't particularly care what Sam's answer was. He was hungry, and even if Sam didn't want any, Dean was going to get some food.

"Uh, yeah," Sam said after a moment.

"I'm going to grab us something to eat," the older of the brothers announced as he shoved some cash into his wallet. "Any preferences, Sam? A medium-rare filet-mignon, perhaps?" The only answer to Dean's tease was Sam throwing a shoe at him. Dean skillfully dodged out of the way. "If you want to hit me, you're going to have to do a lot better than that!"

"Jerk!" Sam smiled back with an edge.

"Bitch!" Dean winked, slamming the door on his way out.

**********

As Dean entered the fast-food restaurant, he quickly stepped up to the counter to order his and Sam's food. Casually, he leaned over the counter and started to order. "Lemme get four burgers, two with extra onions, and a side of large fries, sweetheart. To-go," he coyly smiled with a trademark glint in his eyes.

"Sure thing," the female cashier sweetly nodded, punching numbers in the register. "You like onions?" she innocently asked Dean.

"Well, let's just say I like a little kick in my life. You know, a little spice." Dean always was the flirt in the family. "I'm just that kind of guy."

"The blond cashier started to twirl her pin-straight hair in a desperate attempt to give it a hint of volume, without success. "Oh, I'm sure you are," she smiled between popping her gum. "It comes to $6. 78. Will that be cash or credit?"

"Cash," he quickly informed, placing the money on the counter.

"I'll have that order out for you in just a minute," she assured Dean. She reached into her back pocket, and showed the card to Dean. "My number'll be in the bag, too. Give me a call," she encouraged, then walked into kitchen.

"You like a little kick, do you, Dean Winchester?" she wickedly grinned in a soft voice so none of the other workers heard her. The girl rifled through the to-go bag and unwrapped the bag with onion on it. With a quick glance to make sure no one was watching her, she lifted her tongue and sprayed venom onto both burgers with onions.

"Well here's a little kick in the pants," she hissed, wrapping the burgers back up.

**********

As Dean walked back to his black Impala, he could've sworn he heard his stomach growl. When Dean slid into the driver's seat , he immediately, he dove into the bag and grabbed a hamburger. Once it was unwrapped, Dean turned on the ignition, biting into the greasy sandwich. Soon enough, Dean reached the motel and made his way up to the room that he and Sam were renting.

"Catch!" Dean greeted Sam as he tossed the bag to his little brother after taking out his food.

Without flinching, Sam stuck out an arm to catch the oily bag. He didn't take his eyes off the laptop while doing so.

"So wha'd'ya figur' ou'?" Dean asked between mouthfuls.

"Well, in the last month, there's been six murders, and six suicides," grimaced Sam. "All the victims were male, married, and happy as fast as anyone knew. But, for some reason, they all killed their wives in a fit of rage," he reported with a sigh. "Once they realized what they did…"

"They killed themselves out of guilt…" Dean finished.

"Yeah," Sam confirmed.

"You know what we're dealing with here, don't you?" Dean bitterly spit out. Without waiting for Sam to answer, Dean got up and started to violently pacing the room. "A Siren! A Goddamned Siren! I hate those freaking bastards. This one…. ugh… mark my words, Sammy… This one is going to die by us… I swear to it…"

Sam could see the distress Dean was going through at the mention of a Siren. He felt those same emotions, too. Not long ago, or at least not long ago enough, a Siren had put both Sam and Dean under its spell. Bobby had come to the rescue in the nick of time, but before that, both Dean had exchanged some words that shook each other to the core. Since then, more than once, each Winchester had been wondering the same thing.

Did he really mean it?

Sam snapped out of his thoughts. "I know, Dean. I know," he nodded solemnly. "First things first, though. We need to find out who it is. And fast."

"You're right," Dean agreed as he ran his hand through his short hair. "Let's check out the town tomorrow."

"Yeah. I'm gonna look on here." Sam motioned to his computer. "For something that will protect us from the Siren's spell. And Dean?"

Dean looked up and made eye contact with Sam.

"No, and I mean absolutely no girls," he winked.

**********

Dean woke with a start in a cold sweat. His eyes darted back and forth, adjusting to the darkness. He looked at the bed beside him, and upon seeing Sam's sleeping form, breathed a sigh of relief. When he tried to go back to sleep, a voice kept ringing in Dean's ear, and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't shut the tantalizing voice out.

Give me a call…

Give me a call…

Give me a call…

Give me a call…

It was all he could hear.

After a minute of struggling to get a free-willed thought in, Dean subconsciously got up from bed and walked over to his cell phone. AS soon as he found the card with the girl's number on it, Dean couldn't make his fingers dial the number fast enough.

"Hello?" Her voice made Dean's heart skip a beat.

"Yes. Umm, hi. This is Dean, the guy who you cashed out earlier…" He fought to find the right words.

"I know who you are Dean. Oh, and you can call me Nikki," she whispered. "You know what I've done to you, don't you? With those burgers? Tsk Tsk Tsk. I thought hunters were more cautious than that."

"Uh-huh," he gasped. Don't let this bitch take control of you. Come on! Fight it! Fight…

"Would you do something for me?"she asked him pleasantly.

"Of course," Dean answered quickly, immediately biting his lip. With gross fascination, he listened closely to Nikki's precise directions.

"Can you do that?" she finished with. "You'll do that for me, won't you Dean?"

"It'll be done," Dean affirmed.

"Alright. And don't worry. I know where you're staying. I have since the moment you came into town. I'll be there in the morning. I do need my beauty sleep, you know. But, when I arrive, the task will be done, yes?"

"Yes," was the quiet answer.

"Good."

Click.

Turning back to the bed where Sam was sleeping, Dean quickly pulled out his gun. With tears of frustration in his eyes, he raised the gun barrel up high in the air and slammed it down onto Sam's unprotected head. Quickly, before the unconscious Sam woke up, Dean carried his brother to a chair and wasted no time in tying him down tightly.

"I'm sorry, Sammy…" he whispered into the night.

**********

A knock at the motel door dragged Sam out of a hazy sleep. As he started to regain full consciousness, Sam became aware of his pounding headache. When the throbbing pain eased off to a dull ache, he opened his eyes to find himself restrained, both hand and foot, to some cheap kitchen chair. If that wasn't surprising enough to Sam, Dean was within his reach, with some girl, staring at him intently.

"Well, it's about time you woke up, Sam," the girl smiled. "I was getting tired of waiting."

"What…?" He squinted at the girl, then at Dean. "Dean, what is this?"

"Don't answer," she ordered as soon as the words were out of Sam's mouth. Dean's mouth clamped shut at the command.

She's a friggin' Siren! And Dean's caught in her spell! "Look here, bitch," Sam stated. "Let him go! You can have me instead!" he pleaded with an edge with hopes to make his offer sound more like a threat.

Without warning, the Siren backhand across the face, hard. Dean didn't flinch.

"First of all, I give the orders around here," she made known. "And I don't answer to 'bitch'. You can call me Nikki. It's… one of my names. It's the one Dean knows me by." She flaunted her blond hair in the elder Winchester's direction. "And if that's good enough for Dean, it'll suit you, as well."

"What did Dean ever even do to you?" Sam raved, still trying to futilely undo his bonds. Still, he couldn't find his way to freedom.

"Me? Nothing. But my sister…" she trailed off. "Once she got wrapped up with you… she was killed? And for what?"

"She was a murderer!" Sam cried out in frustration before he could squelch his words.

"She's dead, and you and your brother killed her. I know all about you… hunters," she spat out in disgust. "And I know how you two are such good brothers to each other. Like me and my sister are. Were…" she sadly trailed off. "I went through pain, and sadness after she died. I still am But you,". She gave Sam a sharp glance. "You got your brother back. Why? That's what I wanna know? What makes him so damn special?" Nikki scoffed. "Well, sure he's back. But after Dean here tortures you, how much of him will actually still be here?"

"Ha! Good luck with that," Sam protested with much more confidence than he felt. "Dean would never do that!"

Nikki mocked innocence and hurt with a pouty look on her face. "You don't believe me?" Turning to Dean with a look of enticement in her eyes, Nikki jutted her head towards Sam. "Dean, are you ready to have some fun?"

Dean silently nodded.

"Sam, what about you?" she coyly, but evilly laughed. "Dean, pick up that knife." She pointed to the sharp instrument, and Dean. "Now, I want you to start cutting down there. On the bottom of Sam's feet. Not deep enough to strike a vein and kill him!" she gasped. "Just enough to bleed and hurt. I would love it if you'd do that."

No… Sam… I swear, this isn't me. I don't want to hurt you! Not again! Not ever, Sammy! I just… I… can't…

Before he knew what was happening, Dean heard Sam scream out in pain from the cut he was making into the soles of Sam's feet. Blood dripped down onto the floor. Every muscle in Sam's body tensed with every miniscule move of the blade.

"Gahhh…" was all that escaped Sam's lips.

"Just let your emotions guide you…" Nikki whispered soothing as she steered the knife up Sam's chest and let it rest on the right side of Sam's chest. "Do as you feel… Deep down…" The Siren was careful in her word choice.

My emotions! What I'm feeling? I'm feeling anger! What do you think I'm feeling?! I'm letting myself become some Siren's bitch-boy, and I can't stop it! I don't want to do this! How could I? Sam, I don't mean it… I don't… That's it! That's it! My emotion is anger, and I'm taking it out on Sam. And that just gets me even madder… Deep down… And I speak and act without thinking, to hurt Sam! That bitch! Why can't I stop this…?

The blood from coming from Sam's wounds dripped freely down his chest and torso. A couple drops of the red liquid landed on Dean's hand and he was immediately sickened.

"No, Dean. Please… Dean, don't," Sam beseeched. The plea wasn't out of pain. Sam knew that if… or when… Dean snapped out of the spell, he'd be consumed with guilt. Sam just didn't know what Dean would do when he realized what he'd done. Sam didn't blame Dean, but Dean was going to blame himself… And Sam was scared. Just plain scared at what would happen after that.

"You can fight this, Dean! Please…"

Dean's eyes darted over to Nikki, who was smiling sickly as her plan began to unfold, just as she had anticipated. She threw the hunter a look that went along with the words she mouthed. 'Yes… Go on… Flow with whatever you are feeling.

"No! No, Dean, don't!" Sam's voice cut through. "You're stronger than this, Dean. I know you are! You can fight this!" he cried.

Dean could only speak in anger, just as he was told.

"You're right, Sam," he said calmly, but full of hate. "I can fight this." Dean made another quick slash through Sam's chest.

"But I don't want to."

**********

Nikki gasped in mock-surprise at Dean's words. Her revenge plan couldn't be going more smoothly. "Did you hear that Sam?" she taunted. "I guess now we all know how Dean really feels about you."

Sam closed his eyes so he didn't have to deal with Nikki's hurtful words along with the pain that made his vision that started to go grey around the edges. "This… isn't… D… Dean talking…" Sam managed to weakly protest.

The Siren laughed even more cruelly this time as she fingered through Dean's dark hair. "Dean, why don't you go and lie down in the other room? You must be exhausted after today. Besides," she winked, turning to Sam. "You're brother and I need to have a little… heart-to-heart…"

Leave Sam alone? With her? No! Never! How could I? I'd never… I can't… I have to protect Sam… Not abandon him!

The sound of a door slamming jarred Dean out of his thoughts. He looked around, and saw that he'd obeyed Nikki's words and left. He left Sam… His feet took on a mind of their own as Dean walked over to the bed he had been sleeping in before this whole dreadful episode started. With a whirling mind, Dean somehow drifted off to sleep.

***********

In the other room, Nikki was keeping a close eye on Sam. "Maybe you didn't hear the command I gave Dean," she informed him once Dean left. "I told him to use his emotions. Let them guide him." She sighed in disgust at Sam. "Apparently his real emotion for you is hate."

"No… never…" Sam denied. "It can't be…"

"Oh, yes, Sam. It can, and it is. But, then again, who could blame Dean? You blatantly and openly defied his dying wish! What if he hadn't been brought back, Sam?" she questioned. "Dean was there, in Hell, for you. And what do you do to repay him? To let his name live in honor?" she raved. "You let him die in vain, Sam. Dean knows it, you know it. Everyone knows it."

Sam bit his lip, trying to block out the mental anguish that he felt from Nikki's words. His wounds, still open and painful, had weakened him, but Nikki's little… speech. It was almost more than Sam could bear.

"How could he not hate you?" rang in Sam's ears all night.

**********

"Dean… Dean…"

The voice was familiar to Dean, and he tried to think of whom it belonged to. For a moment, Dean couldn't remember what had happened, but in time, memory hit full force. When he finally found the strength to open his eyes, Dean sat up abruptly, only to find Castiel in the bed next of him.

"Ugghh," Dean groaned. "I'm dreaming this?"

"Yes, Dean," Castiel faithfully answered. "It was the only way we could talk without your thoughts and feelings being hindered."

"Cas, I… Why can't I just stop doing what she says?" he questioned, torn between his pride and his embarrassment.

"Sirens are tricky creatures, Dean," Castiel solemnly informed, as if Dean didn't know. "I can't help you in this, because the only solution to this situation has to come from within." The stern look of the angel didn't waver. "Look within yourself to save Sam."

"What?" Dean asked confusedly. "Inside myself? Cut the metaphor crap, will ya?!" He was infuriated at Castiel. "Cas, give me a break…"

"Look inside yourself, Dean. The answer is quite simple. Right in front of you… Trust yourself…" he advised. Castiel hated to leave Dean with only that, but those were the only words he could tell Dean. After all, much was at stake, but above all, Castiel knew he couldn't disobey orders. Well, not these orders at least.

"Look within," he repeated one more time. With that, the angel touched Dean's forehead ever so lightly, bringing Dan back to the present to full wakefulness…

"Dean…" The voice was bone-chilling. It made Dean's skin begin to crawl, and his hair stand on end. The voice belonged to Nikki.

"Dean…"

***********

Dean jumped off the bed, rushing out and re-entering the room. One look at Sam confirmed Dean's worst fears. Sam had noticeably deteriorated overnight. He sat there, pale and sick, tied up… Dean inwardly cringed.

"Dean," Nikki purred. "I'm so glad you've decided to join us!" she squealed in malevolence. "I was just about to make Sam wake up, but now you can do it for me!" Dean didn't move, and for a split second, Nikki became worried. Quickly composing herself, Nikki annunciated every syllable of her order, so Dean wouldn't mishear her. "You can do that, can't you?"

"Yes…" Dean's answer was clipped and short.

"Then do it!"

With a heavy heart, Dean took the bucket of ice water that was oh-so-conveniently by Nikki's side. He didn't give any warning to Sam, but instead casually threw it onto Sam, jarring him into consciousness.

"Ugghh…" Sam groaned, trying to lift his suddenly-heavy eyelids.

"Wakey, wakey, Sam," Nikki called to him. Sam's eyes started to droop down again, she backhanded him to startle Sam.

Sam looked around with side hazel eyes and slumped with disappointment.

"Continue with your fun, Dean. Now that he can feel it." Nikki strutted confidently to Dean, handing him her knife. "Use that," she instructed, placing it in his hands. "Along with those emotions welling up deep, deep down when your… you know," she trailed off with a wink.

Sam saw Dean walking towards him, and feebly started to fight against his bonds. He was afraid, just plain afraid of Dean. It was an odd feeling to have towards his brother. A low-grade fever had already developed from his wounds. It made Sam's thoughts unclear and jumbled. When Sam saw Dean raising his knife again, Sam knew what was about to come.

"No… no please!" he begged as Dean pricked the knife on the side of Sam's neck. Sam held onto consciousness only by a thread. All he wanted was for it to be over. He wanted his brother back. "Dean, don't hurt me anymore… please?" Sam's head slumped down onto his chest. "Just, no more. Please, Dean…" He hating begging, but it was impossible for Sam to hold his tongue any longer.

Oh God! This isn't right! Sam's begging, pleading for me to stop hurting him. And I still don't. I don't want to do this, Sam. I swear to you, I don't mean it.

Dean felt the heat radiating off Sam as his head lolled in an attempt to escape the all-consuming pain he felt.

Little Brother, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.

"What's the matter, Sam?" he sarcastically asked. "Can't take the pain?"

"It's not you, Dean…" Sam muttered, trying to make the idea reach the farthest corners of his mind. "This isn't you talking."

Yes, keep thinking that, Sammy. Yes!

"Then who is it, Sam?" Santa Claus?" Dean spurted out with a vehement edge. "This…" he growled through clenched teeth. "Is all me, Sammy. Time for some pay back." The older Winchester mad another cut into his brother's body, whose shirt was in tatters. "For deserting me all those years ago. For lying to me today. And everything in between."

"Dean, I'm sorry…" was all Sam could produce.

"You're sorry? You're sorry?" Dean scoffed. "And just because you feel bad, does that mean I should forget everything? The world doesn't revolve around you Sam!"

"I know… It's all my fault… I know…" Sam sobbed softly.

No, Sam! It's not true! Don't let her break you! This isn't me! No!

"Well, finally, you got the picture, Sam," Dean taunted. "It's about damn time

Nikki laughed so cruelly, so sadistically that she made Dean physically shudder. "I've done it, Winchester!" she cackled. "I've just stripped you of everything. "Your dignity, your self-respect, and the love of your precious little brother!"

For a moment, Dean was so enraged, he could think for himself. He tried to block out the Siren's voice as he screamed at Nikki with a sense of pure fury.

"You bitch! If it's the last thing I do, I'm gonna kill you! For Sam, and for me!" Dean clasped the blade in his hand turned to Nikki and started to walk towards her.

"Don't. You. Dare," Nikki sternly commanded, and made Dean stop in his tracks. "I won this game, Winchester, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. So, I want you to kill your brother. Now! Stick that knife right through his heart."

Her order echoed in Dean's mind non-stop. It was impossible to ignore it. Biting his lip in utter frustration, Dean faced Sam with a look of hate in his eyes. "My pleasure," broke out of Dean's lips before he could stop it. Dean slowly, trying to stop himself, inserted the knife in Sam's left shoulder.

"Dean…" Sam choked out. "I'm sorry for all of it. Really… I'll always love you…"

Suddenly, a new voice entered Dean's mind. Castiel's.

Deep down, Dean. Look inside yourself.

"I love you, too, Sammy," he said sadly.

In a flash, Dean knew what Castiel meant. Inside, deep inside Dean was an undying love for Sam. No siren, no demon, no one could ever break that bond of brotherhood they shared. That love, though, could break anything else. Including the Siren's spell.

As quickly as he could, Dean pulled the knife out of Sam's chest. A steady flow of blood started to ooze from the hole, but Dean ignored it for right now. He took his chances, and started to confront Nikki.

"Stay back! Stay back!" she shrieked, and it, too, filled Dean's mind. Ignoring the pounding headache he felt, Sam jammed the knife straight through Nikki's heart. With one last gasp, she fell down. Her human form disintegrated and the true, hideous Sirne body showed. Dean didn't waste a second getting over to Sam. He quickly fumbled with the knots to free Sam of his bonds and pulled him into an embrace.

"Sammy… Sam, I'm so sorry. I'm gonna patch you up. Okay, Sammy? I swear it…"

**********

Ring Ring Ring

Dean nervously paced back and forth near Sam's bedside as he waited frantically for Bobby Singer to pick up his cell phone on the other end of the call.

Sam's condition wasn't improving. Some of the wounds needed to be stitched up, and all of the slashes needed cleaning out, especially the infected ones. His brother was sleeping peacefully now, but once Sam woke up, Dean could only imagine what he'd think… What he'd do… What he'd say…

"Hello?" The gruff answer was like music to Dean's ears.

"Bobby?" Oh, thank God! Dean cried in relief. "Look, me an' Sam ran into a little trouble on a hunt-"

The phrase caused Bobby to immediately spring into action. "What happened? Where are yas?" he demanded of Dean.

"Byhill, Arizona," Dean tiredly answered as the past events started to take its toll on him. He quickly rattled off his coordinates over the phone. "Bobby, it was a Siren… Sam… He's hurt bad…"

"Hang on. I'm only about an hour away from there," Bobby assured Dean. "Stay right there. Take care of yourselves."

Without bothering to reply, Dean shut his phone and shoved it back into his jean pocket. He grabbed the medical kit he and Sam always kept on hand. His heart truly ached for what he was about to put Sam through, but Dean knew he had to clean out Sam's wounds.

"Sam? Sammy?" Dean gently asked as he softly clouted his brother in order o et some kind of reaction. "Sam, hey, can you hear me?"

Out of instinct, Sam stirred. As soon as Dean saw Sam waking up, he took his rightful place in the chair next to Sam's bed. Sam's reaction to seeing Dean tore the elder Winchester's heart I half.

"No… No!" Sam yelped, trying to rise up and away from Dean. "Please… no more… no more…"

It took every ounce of Dean's self-restraint to resist breaking down right then and there. On the contrary to what his intuition screamed at him, Dean did not reach down and pull Sam into an embrace in an attempt to comfort him. As much as Dean hated to admit it, with Sam in such a state, it would probably to more harm than help.

"Dean... Don't hurt me anymore…" Sam half-sobbed as his eyes flickered open.

"I'm not gonna hurt you, Sammy," Dean soothed. "Never, you hear me? Never again, Sam."

Sam didn't seem to hear Dean, still caught in a fever dream. He brought his hands to his hair and balled up his fists in a desperate attempt to block out either the physical pain inflicted upon him, or the taunting words Dean had related to Sam. Each option still added to Dean's guilt, which multiplied as he watch Sam thrashing back and forth.

"No… No! No! No more, Dean! Please," he rambled desperately. "Dean, I'm sorry… I know it's all my fault our life is like this… I'm so sorry. I wish I could be the man you wanted me to be… I'm sorry…"

"Sam," Dean stated with teary eyes. "don't say that, Sammy. I'm proud of you, Little Brother. More than you know. And I don't blame you for this mess… It's my fault."

Sam's fever-ridden eyes locked with Dean's but Dean, try as he might, couldn't find any recognition in the dilated orbs.

Dean bit his lip in utter sadness for what he was about to do. With determination, he pushed that sickening feeling away and again tried to jar Sam into consciousness.

"Sam? I'm gonna clean out your wounds now, stitch you up. It'll hurt, but it'll help you get well. Sam? Sammy? Are you listening to me? I promise…" Dean whispered, unable to know if Sam really comprehended his words.

Sam just laid there, dazed and confused, moaning in fear.

Dean took off the sheet that was covering Sam's body in preparation of sterilizing his wounds. He cut away the tattered remains of Sam's grey shirt so he could survey all the damage that was inflicted upon his brother.

"Just take it easy," Dean said slowly while patting Sam's arm. He went on to slowly pour the rubbing alcohol over Sam's injuries.

Still not totally aware of what was going on, Sam tried to twist away from the burning sensation of pain. In his mind, all he could comprehend that there was pain, and Dean was the cause of it.

"Please… Dean, stop!" he mumbled, wincing in pain as he tried to weakly fight off Dean's hands.

"Sam, come on, dude…" Dean tried to say with a straight face. "Stay still, Sam. You're just making it worse."

"No more… Oh God! No more!" he whined. By the sound of Sam's voice, Dean could tell the excruciating pain Sam had gone through, though whether it was mental or physical torture Sam was screaming about, Dean didn't know.

"Dean… I'm sorry," Sam said pitifully as he began to cry. Dean saw the salty tears trail down the fever-ridden cheeks that were colored brightly. He wanted to cry right along with Sam, but Dean knew he had to hold strong.

"Shh… It's okay, Sammy… I'm here. Nothing's gonna hurt you. Not while I'm around."

Dena felt Sam's body go lax, and was relieved by the fact that his little brother couldn't feel the pain anymore. As neatly as he could, Dean stitched up the rest of the wounds, hoping that along with the fever, the infection would clear up soon.

"Dean! Sam!" Bobby's yell erupted through the motel as he banged on the door. "Let me in! It's Bobby!"

***********

Dean couldn't unbolt the door fast enough to let Bobby inside the motel room. They didn't waste any time with small talk, but instead, went straight to the room Sam was in.

Sam was still in a tangled mess of sheets. As soon as he reached Sam's room, he slumped in the chair and rested his head in his hands.

"Dean, you're beat," Bobby stated matter-of-factly. "Go to bed, and I'll wake you in the morning."

"No," Dean argued. "Sam… he needs me…"

"Well, he don't need ya dead!" Bobby said with a little more force than he intended. "Dean, I'm here now. To help you. And if smacking you in the head so you get some rest will help you, I'll do it!"

Dean barely heard Bobby as he began to drift off. The tone of Bobby, however, was one that Dean recognized and knew there was absolutely no room for compromise. Before he left, Dean put his hand on Sam's forehead to gauge the fever.

It's still way too high…

"I'm sorry, Sam. Oh God, I'm sorry," he repeated.

"Dean, it ain't your fault-"

"Yes, it is, Bobby! It is my fault. I did this to Sam! All of it!" he vented. "That damn Siren, made me torture him. Do and say things I never…" Dean blinked beck the tears. "And I couldn't stop it."

"Then why ain't he dead?" Bobby knew he was being blunt, but if blunt was what Dean needed…

"I don't know!" Dean stood to face Bobby. "I had the knife in him almost halfway, but something came over me. I don't know what. I couldn't kill Sam, and then I just… snapped. The Siren couldn't control me anymore."

Bobby nervously adjusted his greasy baseball cap. "Dean, it sounds like you fought the Siren, and saved Sam."

"Then why didn't I do that before, Bobby? Huh? Why couldn't I have stopped all this from happening in the first place?" Dean viciously demanded to no one in particular. "How could I have done this? It was like I was there, in my head. But my body was hers."

" He's gonna be fine, Dean. You have nothing to blame yourself for," Bobby reiterated.

"Do you know what he'll think after this?" Dean looked down at Sam's pale face. "God, the things I said to him."

"Sam won 't blame you, Dean," Bobby informed him. "He knows you didn't mean it. You know that, don't you?"

Dean bowed his head stared at the ground. "I don't know what I know anymore," he admitted. "I just don't know about Sam and me."

"Sam's different," Bobby mused. "We both know that. But, you're different, too." Bobby hoped he wasn't over-stepping his bounds, but he couldn't let this go on any longer. "You went to Hell and back. Of course you're going to be different."

Dean raised his eyes to make eye contact with Bobby.

"But that ain't any reason why you boys can't trust each other," he finished.

"I know that," Dean said. "But does Sam?"

************

The night passed and Sam didn't wake at all. His fever, remarkably, was starting to decline, and Dean was becoming much more confident of Sam's prognosis. Although, he still sat vigil near his bedside, waiting for him to wake up. Dean just wanted to see those green eyes looking up at him.

He had even convinced Bobby to leave, just so he could talk to Sam alone. Dean knew it would be hard to explain his actions to Sam. This experience, it was going to be hard for Sam to understand, Dean knew that much.

Sam's eyelids flickered slightly, and Dean bent over him. "Sam, come on, Sammy. Wake up. You've been out of it for way to long buddy."

Dean waited a couple more seconds, and Sam sighed deeply and opened his eyes and stared at Dean intently.

"Dean…?"

**********

"Yeah, Sam," Dean quickly declared, laying his hand on Sam's shoulder. "I'm right here. You feeing okay?"

Sam broke into a spasm of coughing before he could find his voice. Then, apprehensively, he made eye contact with Dean and tried to force words out of his throat. "Dean? Are…?"

"I'm back, Sammy," confirmed Dean. He made sure to convince Sam of that simple fact.

"Th-the Siren?" Sam choked out.

"Dead. She's dead, Sam." Dean could still make out the fear that was hidden behind Sam's eyes, and it cut him to the core. For Sam's sake, he didn't press that issue any further. "Sam, I'm sorry. For all of it. I didn't mean it, any of it, Sam. I swear it."

"I… I know you didn't," Sam hoarsely whispered. "Not your fault."

"Don't start in with that," Dean scoffed. "I know what I did to you, Sam. And what I said. I didn't want to, but I couldn't stop…"

"Dean, it's alright," Sam lied. Guilt was weighing Sam down ever since Dean had proclaimed he blamed Sam for their lifestyles. "I know it wasn't." Sam was being quiet, too quiet for Dean's liking. Dean tried to muster a slight smile for his brother, but to his horror, when he looked at Sam, Dean saw he was about to cry, valiantly fighting back tears.

"Sammy? What's wrong?"

Sam closed his eyes and Dean saw a single tear in the corner of Sam's eye.

"It's just… I'm sorry." Sam bowed his head low in regret.

"For wh-?"

"For our lives, Dean! For making us be hunters! For making you go through Hell! For… everything…" Sam burst out. "I'm the reason we are like the way we are. I'm the reason you went to Hell!" Sam was working himself into hysterics now, and Dena tried to calm him down. "All that suffering! All that torture! The Apocalypse! Because of me!"

Dean grabbed Sam at his shoulders and pushed him down to the bed in an effort to make sure he didn't hurt himself.

"Sam… Sam! Breathe, come on. Calm down," Dean repeated until Sam obeyed and regained control of himself. "Sam, don't say that. None of this is your fault."

Especially the Apocalypse. That, Sam… It's not you to blame for that…

"Yes, Dean. It is. If I had just killed Jake all those years ago, I wouldn't have died. You would've never gone to Hell. And then Lilith wouldn't be able have pushed you to break the First Seal. That's not your fault. It's mine. Don't you see, Dean? It is my fault. I had the chance to end it all. But… I didn't…"

"Sam, it's not like that."

Sam didn't acknowledge Dean as quiet sobs racked his weak body.

"Listen to me, Sam," Dean said as he cupped Sam's shin, forcing his brother to look him in the eye. "None of this is your fault. None of it, you hear me?"

"How can you say that?"

"Easily," Dean snapped back. "Sam, if you had killed Jake back there, it would have been you who opened the Devil's Gate. Could you have lived with that?" Dean queried.

"I wouldn't've opened the Gate," Sam argued. "I couldn't."

"What if Yellow-Eyes threatened you? Huh? Using me?" challenged Dean. He didn't wait for Sam to answer. "You would've and you know it, Sam."

"But-" Sam was cut off by Dean.

"But nothing, Sam. This Seal thing… It happened. There's no escaping it, but together… we can handle it," Dean told Sam slowly. "If you had killed back then… who knows what we'd be facing now? Or what would have happened to you?"

Sam blinked slowly, trying to absorb Dean's words.

"This… the whole damn war, it could be worse," mused Dean. "But it's not your fault. At least we've got each other while we are fighting."

"Or yours," Sam cut in.

"Yeah. It's just how you look at it, Sam. We could be facing worse," Dean smiled.

Looking up at Sam with conniving eyes, Dean instantly recognized the message that lay beneath them.

"Aww, come on, dude! No chick flick moments!" he sighed.

**********

The next morning, Dean awoke to a sound that made his heart skip a beat. Sam was shivering and moaning. He swiftly jumped out of bed and rushed over to Sam.

"Sam? Sammy?"

A slight moaning sound was his only answer as Sam turned back around. Sweat poured off Sam's clammy face, and Dean could feel the heat radiating off his body. Dean put both hands on Sam's face, only so his fears were confirmed.

Damnit! He's having a relapse!

**********

"Sam?" Dean asked hesitantly. "Sam, it's just a nightmare. You're okay. Easy, buddy."

Dean quickly rushed into the motel room's kitchen and wet a couple of plush washcloths with cool water. Although to Sam, the cloths felt ice cold. When Sam felt the frigidness sink into his sink, he gasped in pain and surprise, trying to pull away from it.

"No, no, Sam. It'll help get your fever down," Dean told him calmly. "I swear, Sammy, I'm not gonna let this beat you. Don't give in."

Sam peered at Dean intently, searching his face with such an intensity Dean almost turned away. Almost.

"Fev'r?" he slurred softly. Sam shook his head and forth, trying to disagree with Dean's last statement. "No fev'r, 'ean. C… cold… It's t-t-to cold," Sam shivered. "I'm so cold, Dean…"

"Shh, Sam… Just leave everything to me, Little Brother. I'm here. I'm gonna take care of you," vowed Dean, taking a seat near the bedside. "Everything's gonna be okay…"

God, I hope so. Sam, come on, don't let this beat you. There's so much more you've got left to do in life, Sam. Don't end it all now. Like this.

"Where 'r' we, Dea'?" Sam whispered. Dean opened his mouth, about to answer, but Sam continued to ramble on, unaware of his environment. "W'ats hap'ning, Dean? I don't feel too good. My chest hurts. Why does my chest hurt, Dean?" Sam pestered, sounding like a little kid.

"Never mind, Sam," Dean tentatively answered. He wiped down Sam's sweaty brow, only to see more perspiration forming on Sam's skin.

"How come, Dean?" Sam mumbled, twisting and murmuring otherwise incoherently.

"What? What are you saying, Sam?" Dean's brow furrowed, trying to understand Sam.

"Why are you still here? Dean, why haven't you left, yet?" Sam's eyes found Dean's and started to pool up with tears. "Please, Dean. Don't leave me. I… I-"

"Calm down, Sam," Dean instantaneously said, puzzled. "I'm not going to leave you. Never, Sam. Why would you think that?"

Sam stopped thrashing about, trying to gather his jumbled thoughts together. "How can you stand to look at me? I was the reason you went to Hell. Don't I remind you of all that?"

"Sam, you're the reason I got out of Hell," Dean confided in his brother, hoping he wouldn't remember the conversation after the fever broke. "There's something about Hell that I never told you. It was you that made me stay human."

"Hmm? Never tol' me? What 's it?" Sam wanted to know.

"If you go to sleep, I'll tell you when you wake up," Dean promised, hoping against hope that Sam wouldn't remember any of this. "Okay, Sammy?"

"Do yo' promise me?" Sam said innocently, as he would when he was a child. "Dean?"

Dean sighed sharply and closed his eyes. "Yeah. I promise, Sam."

***********

Thankfully, Sam's relapse was just that. Overnight, his fever didn't only lower; it broke in a drenching sweat. Dean knew that although Sam was sleeping now, it was a healing sleep. A sleep that would help heal Sam.

Sam blinked sleepily, trying to make his vision clear. Once that was done, Sam gingerly hoisted himself up so he was sitting up at an angle.

"Oh, waiter!" he called loudly to Dean. "I'm ready to order!"

At Sam's voice, Dean smiled for the fact Sam was up and coherent. At Sam's words… well, that was a different story.

"I'm sorry, sir. We don't serve ugly people here," Dean responded. He walked over to the chair near Sam and felt his forehead.

Thank God. He's cooler…

"So, am I pregnant, Doc?" Sam laughed as he pushed Dean's hand away from his face.

"God, if nature hasn't stopped you, Sam," Dean teased. "The government will."

"Shut up!" Sam spouted off.

"Here." Dean shoved a plate of food in Sam's lap and handed him a fork that Sam gratefully accepted. "Eat this. All of it."

"Sure," agreed Sam, and began putting the food into his mouth. Over idle conversation with Dean, he eventually, he finished the entire plate, bite by bite. The moment of stillness passed when Sam cleared his throat to break the silence that enveloped Dean and him. "So, how bad was it?"

"What? The food? You're the one who ate it, Sam. I only prepared the poison." Dean knew where the conversation was headed, and did his best to steer it away from that destination.

"No. The relapse," Sam clarified unnecessarily. "How bad was it?"

"Do you remember anything?" Dean cautiously asked.

"Not much…"

Dean inwardly breathed a sigh of relief. "You were just mumbling nothing. You were so out of it, dude," Dean winked.

Sam paused a moment before going on. "But there's something I do remember," he admitted.

"Dean, what didn't you tell me about Hell?"

**********

Dean inhaled a sharp, ragged breath at Sam's question. "Sam…"

"Dean!" Sam cut off sadly, but with curtness. "Please, tell me. You've never, ever broken a promise to me, Dean. Don't let the one be the first."

Try as he might, Dean couldn't think of a way to discontinue this subject from Sam, other than answer him direction.

"Okay, fine," concurred Dean. He waited a moment, breathing slowly before continuing. "You know how Ruby told us all demons were previously humans? It's true," Dean confided. "And, I don't know how, but… in the Pit, it's easy to become a demon. All you have to do is just… let go. Not care anymore. Not care who you hurt. Not care about your own hurt. Just, not care about anything anymore, " Dean shrugged. "It was so hopeless in there, Sam. And once a soul let go of every emotion he had, that was it. Poof. You were a demon."

"Oh my God…"

"Yeah. And I… I didn't, Sam. Because back here, in my mind, I remembered you. And us. And what we did. I just couldn't let myself become one of those things," Dean said with disgust. "I wasn't going down like that. So, I stayed a soul, until the Angels grabbed me out. You know the rest…" he finished. "You were my link to reality, humanity, Sammy. So, thanks."

"I… I… Dean…" Sam stuttered.

Dean found a small, amused smile. "I had you to hang on to, Sam. All that time."

Sam sat there, staring his hands and idly tracing his hand against the crease of the sheets. "I always thought you'd hate me after…" he confessed softly.

"Hate you? I couldn't, Sam. Why would you think that?" Dean squinted his eyes, as if trying to look through Sam.

"Down there. I thought you'd blame me. And keep thinking about me while… well, I didn't know what was goin on down there. But I knew it wasn't going to be good. And that I was the reason for it all," he admitted.

"No. You were the only reason I'm not the one thing I'd hate to become. You're the reason I'm me, Sammy," Dean said victoriously.

"Hmm," Sam pondered. "I guess it was always the opposite of what I thought."

Yes, Sam! Now you're finally getting it!

"Yeah, when you look at it like that," Dean agreed. "The things I saw in there, Sam." Dean shook his head to clear the memories that threatened to creep up on him. "God, I wish I could just forget. But as bad as all that was, I knew being a demon was a worse fate. I can handle torture, but Sammy, I can't handle knowing I betrayed you, Sam." Dean pressed his right hand to his temple.

Sam yawned without meaning to, Dean noticed the action.

"Am I boring you?" he derided playfully.

"Not ever," Sam answered back. "Dean, what you had to go through, I'm sorry. But I'm glad I was here to help you."

Dean lightly punched Sam in his shoulder, a place without a scratch or bruise. "Me too, Sammy. Me too." Sam put his arm on Dean's opposite shoulder and winked. Taking the younger man by surprise, Dean was the one who pulled Sam in a quick embrace. They both stayed there for a second, enjoying the comfort and security they felt right then. Simultaneously, the brothers pulled back, tears in both of their eyes. Both were too stubborn to let them fall.

Again, Sam yawned, and for a moment, his eyelids swooped closed. Reacting immediately, he made his eyes snap back open, but Dean was having none of it.

"No, no, Sam. You must be tired anyway. Go to sleep," he ordered without need. "I'll be right here."

"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" Sam challenged.

"Be careful, Sam," Dean warned. "Or else you'll be waking up to a pillow suffocating you."

*********

A couple hours later, Sam was still sleeping peacefully. Dean was up and around. The radio was tuned into whatever station came in the clearest. He really hadn't been listening as he surfed Sam's laptop aimlessly until he heard the otherwise annoying radio DJ spout off the upcoming set.

"And that was the incredible Lady Antebellum with their new hit, Things People Say. Now, here's Miranda Lambert's Gunpowder and Lead!"

Dean's brow furrowed and he thought hard, trying to remember where he had heard that name before.

Lambert… Lambert… Oh, I know! That's that country girl Sam wanted me to listen to. Pshh… As if. No hick-chick like that can rock out to my standards!

Out of curiosity, Dean turned up the volume on the radio, just to hear what it sounded like. He sat there, just taking in the music.

County Road 233

Under my feet

Nothing on this white rock but little ol' me

I got two miles 'till

He makes bail

And if I'm right we're headed straight for Hell

I'm going home, gonna load my shotgun

Wait by the door and light a cigarette

He wants a fight?

Well, now he's got one, and he ain't seen me crazy yet!

He slapped my face, and shook me like a ragdoll.

Don't that sound like a real man?

I'm gonna show him what little girls are made of

Gunpowder and Lead!

As the song continued, Dean felt himself bobbing his head along with the beat. The shredding guitar solo at the end also took Dean by surprise. As the song came to an end, Dean clicked the radio off and smiled at the sleeping form of his little brother.

"Huh. Imagine that. Sam must have my good taste in music," he proclaimed proudly. "Halleluiah!"

**********

The days progressed, and Sam steadily improved. Still, because of the slashes on the bottom of Sam's feet, Dean would only allow Sam up and around for a short period of time. If he could keep Sam in bed, that is.

"Come on, Dean! Gimme a break! I'm fine!" Sam said, obviously annoyed. He swung his legs around the bed and started to put his feet on the ground.

"Sam, for crying out loud, you're not! Just stay off your feet! Sheesh! Stop being such an ass about this. I'm not about to let you walk around with feet that are being held together by some of my stitches." Dean scoffed, directing it at Sam. "We all know I'm an amazing doctor, but no one is that amazing!"

"Fine." Sam awkwardly shifted his position so he was sitting up at a near-ninety degree angle. "You know, there's one thing I don't understand. How did you kill that Siren, anyway? I thought you needed a bronze dagger covered in blood of someone under the spell."

Dean opened his mouth, and then abruptly shut it. His brow curled in thought as he pondered Sam's question. "I… I don't know. I never really thought about it. All I remember was just concentrating on how I could save you. And I snapped. When I put that knife through her heart, she died. I'm sure of it. Bobby even salted and burned the body. Hyacinths and all."

Sam just shrugged and made a quizzical face.

"You know, that's a good question," mumbled Dean. His eyes strayed to his cell phone sitting there on the table. "Maybe Bobby would know?" he added, dialing the number.

Keeping quiet, Sam looked at Dean expectantly. The conversation between Dean and Bobby was short, and from Dean's grunting in response, Sam could tell that no conclusion was made.

Dean closed the phone in defeat. "He's got no idea."

Sam pinched the brow of his nose, but still couldn't come up with an answer. "Me neither."

"What if it wasn't a Siren?" Dean proposed. "But I could've sworn…"

In a split second, Castiel was sitting on the edge of the bed, startling both Dean and Sam. He arose from his seat and said, "It was a Siren," he answered in a very reserved manor. "You were correct."

"Cas, what-"

"You still don't get it," the Angel remarked. "Dean, it was your determination and your love for Sam that killed the Siren. That feeling inside you is what saved your brother."

"This was staged? Are you kidding me? Are you friggin' kidding me?!"

"It wasn't planned, if that's what you're asking me." Castiel's words were short, bitten off. "But I did make you aware of how you could save your brother. And yourself." The look Castiel gave Dean sent chills down his spine.

"You did that for me? Why?" Dean said in a small, sheepish voice.

"I did it for both of you," he corrected without changing his facial expression, which was hidden and hard. "I know you've been looking at many things differently, Dean. Try looking at me differently. And what I stand for."

With one feld swish, Castiel was gone, and left Sam and Dean there alone in the motel.

**********

Weeks later, when both Sam and Dean had come to terms with the past events, they decided to head to Las Vegas. The air seemed clearer to both Winchesters.

"I don't know about you, Sammy, but I'm so hitting the crap table the minute we get there!" Dean informed Sam for the millionth time. "I'm gonna win big time. I know it. I just know it."

"Yeah, you and a thousand other people, Dean," Sam countered.

When the song on the radio changed, Dean was instantly pleased and started singing along with the words.

I'm going home, gonna load my shotgun

Wait by the door and light a cigarette

He wants a fight?

Well, now he's got one, and he ain't seen me crazy yet!

He slapped my face, and shook me like a ragdoll.

Don't that sound like a real man?

I'm gonna show him what little girls are made of

Gunpowder and Lead!

Dean matched every word and almost every pitch as he made the Impala speed up. Amazed, Sam stared at Dean with an open mouth.

"Dude! Wh-what happened to your no Country music policy?" he asked in shock.

Dean looked thoughtful as he looked at his little brother and at that moment, was so thankful that they both were safe and happy. It was his love that saved Sam, even though it had been Castiel who helped Dean find that out. One thing was for sure, though. No matter what happened, Dean and Sam were going to face it together.

Dean's answer was simple, and yet to both he, Sam, and Castiel watching from afar, it meant so much to all three.

"It's just how you look at it."

The End