Slices of Brotherhood

by FraidyCat

Disclaimer/Summary: I bow to Eric Kripke, and thank him for not suing me. This is a tag to the episode "Jump the Shark" (season four).


Four hours.

It was perhaps the longest four hours of his life; or, perhaps not. The hours in hell had seemed to drag on a bit, after all. Not to mention the hours he had spent with Sam's dead body, before he made the deal that sent him there. No, Dean decided, when you looked at the last four hours in context with the rest of their lives -- and deaths -- they might not even make the cut for the Top Ten Worst Winchester Moments, Ever. The hours he had spent dragging Sam's nearly unconscious body back to the Impala, hurtling through space back to the motel, getting him into the room, cleaning him up, watching him pass out halfway through the stitching, sitting on the bed beside him in a hyperventilating panic with one palm on his chest so that he could feel him breathing...hard to believe, right now, that this was not the worst night of their mutual lives.

Except it had been so close.

So close to Moment Number One, when Jake had sliced through his brother's spinal cord and Sam had died in his arms.

He swallowed thickly, and reached a slightly shaky hand for the bottle on the bedside table. He slumped back in the rickety motel-room chair that he had dragged to within a foot of the edge of Sam's bed, and tipped the bottle until the Jack burned a trail down his throat and brought tears to his eyes. He eyed the bottle and sighed -- only a few inches of the amber liquid remained; they'd have to buy another fifth, soon. In their line of work, a good whiskey was a necessity. It was great for numbing the pain -- physical and otherwise. Alcohol also served them well as a pinch-hitting disinfectant, when nothing else was available. It would not be wise to travel without their good friend Jack, Dean knew. Then he narrowed his eyes and switched his focus to Sam, studying his sleeping form.

His brother was still pale, despite the three glasses of water Dean had managed to force down him almost two hours earlier, after he had stitched up his arms. Tomorrow morning, when Dean felt a little steadier on his feet, when it was closer to a decent hour for the average motel manager than it was now, he would call the front desk and beg until he convinced the man that he needed some help. They needed to stock up on electrolyte-rich sports drinks, maybe some canned soups...and Dean wasn't leaving Sammy alone. Not for a long time, anyway, and he needed to rehydrate the kid. That, and sleep; it was all that could be done, now, while Sam's blood supply worked at replenishing itself.

Sam was flat on his back, his arms propped up on pillows stolen from Dean's bed -- so still. Dean shivered slightly, remembering the last time Sam had been this still, this unmoving. Remembering the cabin, the cot in the back room, his little brother's dead body lying in state. He tried to drink the memories away, downing another gulp of whiskey, but in the end he leaned forward a little and jostled the pillow closest to him. It supported Sam's right arm, the one less injured, even though Dean had still put 10 small, neat stitches into it. He was relieved when Sam's lax face pinched in pain. His eyes remained closed, but a small moan escaped his pale lips, and Dean relaxed back into the chair. Alive, then. He could work with alive.

He decided that maybe he should sit the bottle of Jack on the floor when he started to wonder if that blood -- so much blood -- had contained the one drop that the Yellow-Eyed Demon had dripped into Sam's mouth 26 years before. Maybe when he woke up, Sammy wouldn't have his freaky powers and visions, anymore. The hint of a grin teased at Dean's mouth before he sighed again and admitted the truth to himself: Winchester Luck. If Sam had been left with only one drop of blood in his body (and it was a lot closer to that than Dean was comfortable with), it would be that one drop, from all those years ago.

He huffed a snort and shifted in the chair, still staring at Sam. Winchester Luck, it seemed, had even extended to Adam.

He closed his eyes against a sudden wave of despair. Another brother. He had had another little brother out there, for years. It was a revelation, considering that they had never really met, how much it disturbed him that Adam was dead. He slowly opened his eyes again, blinking at Sam. Sam's research had made Adam seem like a decent kid; Dean wouldn't have minded actually knowing him, he thought. His father...their father...had looked so relaxed, and happy, in the photos. It was obvious he treasured his stolen moments with his hidden family, no doubt basking in the normality. Another revelation: In his own way, John Winchester had craved a normal life as much as his son Sam had.

The thought made Dean's heart grow heavy as he reached out to check Sam's forehead for fever, smoothing the long hair as he did. In a way, Dean almost felt as if he had lost two brothers today. His eyes had been opened to just how far Sam had come -- or maybe, fallen. When Dean listened to Sammy educate ghoul-Adam to the calling of being a hunter....God, it was heartbreaking. He didn't even recognize the cold soldier in front of him. What he told Sam later was the truth: Sam was no longer the infant he had carried from a burning house and protected with his very life countless times. He was John Winchester; determined, severe, tunnel-visioned. Hopeless.

Dean slumped back, depressed, and wondered if there was enough whiskey in the world to fix this. To fix Sam.

And yet...

Trapped in the crypt, Dean had been frantic to get back to his brother. After he had discovered the real Adam's remains, he had known that something was impersonating him. Dean hadn't realized they were ghouls -- he'd been leaning toward shape shifters until Sam managed to clue him in -- but he understood that something supernatural had killed the brother he never had, and was even then alone with the only brother he had ever wanted. His attempts at escape became frenzied as he realized that Sammy was in danger. Even having seen Sam more clearly than he ever had before, Dean still wanted to save him.

He closed his eyes in pain again, realizing that he still wanted to save Sam. The enemy now was much more elusive. There were no ghouls to take out with head shots. Now, Sammy had to be saved from himself; the brother he knew, the one he had loved for most of his life with fierce devotion and protective instinct -- he was still in there, somewhere. Dean had to believe that -- because if he didn't, if Sammy was gone, then Dean might as well have stayed in hell.

When Dean opened his eyes again, Sam was staring right at him. His hazel-green eyes, opened unbelievable wide, were clouded with physical discomfort, and something else. "Dean," he whispered, and Dean smiled at him.

"I'm right here, Sammy. Get some more sleep." He leaned toward the plastic bottle of water on the bedside table. "Unless you think you can drink a little more first?"

Sam's eyes strayed toward the ceiling, and he blinked lethargically before his gaze slid back to Dean. "He was really our brother?" he asked.

Dean swallowed down the ache of loss and leaned in close, spoke quietly. "You're my brother," he answered. "When all is said and done, Sam, that truth remains. I will never let you go." He had almost been glaring at the injured man, but now he sat back and raised his eyebrows, unleashing a smile that was all Dean: Cocky and vulnerable at the same time. "Hell, kid, you should know that by now."

A myriad of emotions flashed through Sam's eyes as they started to drift closed again. Relief, despair, grief, hope, "I do," he murmured, wincing as he shifted his arms on the pillows. He fought his rapidly descending eyelids. "Tired," he admitted. His eyes fluttered closed again. "Thanks, Dean."

"Just sleep," his brother answered softly. "I'll be here when you wake up."