Notes(Please Read)

Alright so once again I missed my posting window with this story because I'm a freakin' perfectionist, but too bad, I'm posting it anyway. There are a few things ya'll should know though.

1. The first half of this story was written the day after Jump The Shark aired. I had this idea in my mind after a second watching of the episode, plus I was just SO unhappy that they cut the patch up scene short (Also, that was just unrealistic).

2. The second half was written after The Rapture.

3. It was completed before When The Levee Breaks.

So yeah, that's not all too important, but just keep it in mind that I approached this story line theoretically.

Also, this is a oneshot, but I did something at the end of this chapter that I've never done before: I'm letting the readers choose: )

I will say that this story, like so many of mine are, is rated E for EMO. But hey, that's what happens the writers deprive me of my oh-so-adored broness.

Anywho, I'll stop yammering now. I hope y'all enjoy this. Let me know! :D


Not Gone, Dormant

Dean wiped disgustedly at the blood speckling his chin. He examined the soiled sleeve briefly before dropping his arm and regarding the decapitated body lying on the floor beneath him. Ghouls. Dean had seen the bodies of Adam and Kate Milligan at the mausoleum, but could not push aside the thought "Get back to Sam" long enough to figure out what Big Bad they might be dealing with. Sam, however, had been more successful and it had only took his ground out warning for Dean to change up his game plan and start aiming for heads.

The "mother" had been easy, brought down with a quick round of buckshot, but Adam—or rather the thing stealing Adam's appearance—had put up more of a fight.

Dean knelt hunched for a moment, breathing hard, contemplating the universe's sick sense of humor that had forced him to bash in the head of the being that he'd come to know as his long-lost brother. Actually, considering the sharp turn his life had taken in the time since his return from Hell, the universe's sense of humor was quickly becoming less sick and more typical.


Dean blinked and immediately looked up at his brother's strangled call. He hadn't had much time to examine Sam when he had first rushed into the room, but now as Dean got to his feet and moved back through the living room, he was able to take in the extent of Sam's bondage. The tied wrists and feet. And the viciously slashed forearms. Dean's steps faltered momentarily when his eyes cut to the two bowls on the floor and the fair amount of blood pooling in them, more steadily running from Sam's arms with each passing moment.

Sam's face was pale and lax and his eyes watched Dean's approach under heavy lids. "Too much blood." Dean took up a small, bloodied knife from off the floor and cut Sam's right arm loose, then his left before turning and snagging a few napkins off of the nearby chest of draws and returning to Sam's side. After sawing through the strap of ducttape secured across his brother's stomach, Dean gripped Sam's shoulder, slid the other hand under his back, and lifted him up into a sitting position, wincing at Sam's choked sounds of pain.

"Alright, here we go, here we go." Dean kept up a hushed stream of reassurances as he quickly wrapped a napkin around Sam's left forearm. He squeezed the makeshift bandage tightly around the wound and shot a sympathetic look up at the spike in Sam's protests. Dean could already feel the cloth starting to soak through with warmth as he moved to Sam's other arm and repeated what he had just done with the first.

"Thank you." Sam breathed out between pants. Dean looked up, a bit surprised by the gratitude. Of all the times he'd looked out for Sam, patched him up after a hunt gone nasty, watched over him when he was sick, or saved him from some supernatural nasty, not once did Dean expect a thank you. It wasn't as if watching Sam's back was a simple act of charity, it was Dean's responsibility. The self-employed job he'd had since the day a baby Sam had been brought home from the hospital and Dean had met and held his little brother for the first time.

Needing to just say something, Dean recalled what Sam had been talking about earlier and replied, "That's what family's for, right?" Dean finished off the comment with a forced smile, almost glad that Sam wasn't exactly focused on him to see the tightness behind it. "Keep pressure on that." Dean nodded at Sam's wrapped forearms as he moved around the table to work on the bonds still securing Sam's legs.

Sam remained quiet. His breathy inhales and exhales were the only response he gave and they harshly filled the sudden silence of the house. Dean cut the band of ducttape and started in on the feet. He was on the last curl of rope when Sam's heavy breathing suddenly hitched. If that wasn't enough to pull Dean's attention back up to his brother, then the breathy plea of his name did the trick.

Dean's head shot up just in time to see Sam's unfocused eyes roll a little before he slumped backwards onto the table with a jarring thud.

"Sam?" Dean demanded loudly. With one, swift jerk of the small knife, Dean cut through the rope and rushed around the table. "Sammy?" Dean reiterated just as loudly, gripping Sam's right shoulder tightly. He swept an appraising gaze over his little brother again. Sam's face had paled even more, the skin taking on a translucent effect. The completely soaked through napkins wrapped around his wrist explained why. Panic gripped Dean as he watched thick trails of blood run down Sam's forearms towards his elbows. How much blood had he lost? How much blood could a human lose before hypovolemic shock set in? Dean's racing mind couldn't remember if it was three pints, or just two.

"Dean." The quiet rasp once more pulled Dean back to focus on the shiny, sea-green eyes staring drowsily at him and looking young and lost in a way that Dean hadn't seen since...well, it had been a long time. Too long and Dean found it actually hurt a little to realize how desperately he missed that innocent look. The one that had always regarded him with such faith and confidence, though normally under less dire circumstances.

Swallowing over the sudden lump in his throat, Dean reached towards Sam's arms. "We have to stop the bleeding, Sam." It was an apology as he wrapped his hands around each of Sam's forearms and squeezed tight. Sam immediately tensed. An almost suppressed groan rumbled from deep in his throat and his feet pushed against the table top, as if attempting to scurry out from under the pain.

The gashes continued to bleed. Despite their firm grip, Dean's hands were not able to span and encompass the entire length of the wounds. "Damnit." Dean bit out, frustrated. A pained sigh stuttered out through Sam's lips. Dean looked up at the sound and watched Sam's eyes roll weakly before fluttering shut. Dean tensed and he gave Sam a quick shake. "Don't do that, Sam. Stay awake, alright? Sam!" Dean reached up and jostled his brother's shoulder when Sam's eyes started to close again. Sam managed an uncontrolled nod and blinked his eyes wider.

An idea suddenly came to Dean. At the least, it was a temporary fix, but at the moment that was good enough for him. Dean bent Sam's arms up and crossed them over his chest. "Hold that compression, I got an idea." Sam blinked at him. Dean reached back and pulled his Colt—admittedly useless for this particular hunt—from its hiding place at the small of his back and put it on the table before unbuckling his belt and pulling it from the loops. He took back up his soft stream of reassurances as he carefully unfolded Sam's right arm and laid it by his side. Dean then slide the belt under the arm, slipped the leather strap back through the buckle, and pulled it tight, just above the elbow and the opened skin. Sam's fingers twitched a few times, but otherwise he let on no protest.

"I'd like to remind you of our 'if it saves our lives, we're not allowed to be a smartass about it' rule." Dean warned, keeping his eyes and the awkward factor as low as possible when he swept aside his brother's shirt and removed his belt as well. Sam did as he was told and kept his mouth shut, whether by choice or not, as Dean secured the belt on his left arm in the same fashion he'd done with the right. Dean watched intently for a few moments and puffed out a quick breath when the bleeding appeared to significantly slow.

With one crisis abated, Dean quickly moved on to the next. Sam's slitty eyes were slightly dulled as they stared now at the ceiling, looking drained. The irony of that didn't go unnoticed by Dean. A blood transfusion was definitely in order, but hospitals grew suspicious of, closely monitored, and sometimes restrained patients admitted with Sam's type of injury. Dean was, however, more than willing to deal with breaking Sam out of the hospital after the proper amount of blood had been administered if need be.

"Update, Sammy. How ya feelin'?"

The dim blue/green eyes blinked sluggishly and Sam swallowed thickly. "Ad'm was our broth'r, Dean." Came his quiet reply after a raspy-sounding breath. Not quite what Dean had meant, but he concluded that if Sam were lucid enough to feel remorse about Adam's death then he was alright for the moment. Dean dropped his eyes down and made himself busy carefully testing the tightness of the tourniquet he had just made around Sam's forearm, saying nothing. Dean couldn't quite bring himself to mourn the death of Adam Milligan any more than he did the death of any other innocent on any other hunt. Adam had shared the same father as he and Sam, that was true, but that was all. Blood is not absolute. Dean and Sam had been building their brotherhood for most of twenty-five years and they had both just learned of and who they had thought to be Adam Milligan a few days earlier. Sam had immediately accepted Adam as their brother, Dean...had thought it through more. He'd seen his father's carefully concealed secret. John had many secrets, Dean was sure they all had yet to be revealed to him, but they were all kept with reason. A son with another woman was not exception. Half brother or not though, Dean did fully intend to go back to the cemetery and put Adam properly to rest. Because regardless of anything else, it was what the kid deserved. But for now, Dean had the little brother he had spent most of his life with to take care of.

"Come on." Dean scooped one arm under Sam's shoulders and wrapped the other hand around his right bicep in a mirrored hold from before and levered Sam once more into a sitting position. "There's gotta be a more comfortable place for you to crash in this creepy, old house."

"They killed him." A flame of strength returned briefly to Sam's voice as he ground out the words. Dean paused and looked over at Sam's drooping profile.

"I know." Sam blinked and pulled his head up to look at Dean with slightly unfocused eyes. His brow furrowed a little in a confused look. "That mausoleum I checked out earlier..." Dean paused to worry his bottom lip between his teeth. He looked hesitantly back up at Sam after a moment. "I went back and...found him." A ghost of the kicked puppy look that Dean used to kid him for so often flickered across Sam's face. Dean searched the hazy but still soulful gaze for a moment. "I'm sorry." He slid his hand up Sam's back and gripped reassuringly at the back of his neck.

"But, I'm still here." Dean wished he could point out but didn't, considering he wasn't entirely sure how much weight it held anymore. "You haven't forgotten that, have you, Sam?" Dean would only admit to the most secret places in himself that it had hurt him how quickly Sam had been to accept Adam as their brother. As his very own little brother, as if Dean wasn't good enough for him.

"H' was ya' brother too, Dnn." Sam said quietly, swaying a little. Dean chose not to share his personal feelings on the matter. Instead, he carefully lifted Sam's right arm, slowing the movement when Sam hissed, and looped his own arm around his brother's back.

"Think I saw a bedroom down here earlier." Dean mumbled, saying anything to change the subject. Unable to grip Sam's wrist like he usually would have done, Dean reached across his chest instead and fisted the shirt of Sam's opposite shoulder in his hand. Sam slid his legs heavily off the edge of the table and Dean eased him the rest of the way.

He had anticipated the immediate buckling of Sam's knees and he quickly braced himself to take on the extra weight. Sam had definitely packed on a good twenty pounds of muscle in the four months he had been on his own, but Dean was able to adjust easily to the change, staggering only a few steps in the process.

They skirted the decapitated corpse at the head of the table and slowly moved through the opened double doors into the kitchen. Sam craned his neck around to look behind them, no doubt towards the other body in the living room. Dean noted the hesitation before looking resolutely ahead again.

"So ghouls, huh?" He chimed, deliberately distracting yet reminding Sam of the true nature of what it was that he was looking back at. It seemed to work and Sam turned his head forward again.

"Onl' thing that-" Sam stumbled and, once righted by the strong arms guiding him, bunched his fingers tightly in the back of Dean's jacket. "Only thin' that can...can take someone...else's shape and be immune the usual tests." Sam finished, slurred and breathy. Talking apparently wasn't the best idea, Dean noted. Sam's head was lolling, dipping towards his chest before bobbing back up again with each step. Dean glanced over for the billionth time at the fluttering eyelashes and pinched features.

"Just a little further." Dean promised when each step put more and more of Sam's weight under his care.


The quiet whisper of sound stirred something in Dean, a variation of the pang he had felt moments before when he had looked into Sam's unusually unveiled eyes. A puzzled line pinched between Dean's eyes as he glanced again at his brother's down-turned profile and considered what was suddenly occurring as strange to him. Sam hung limply in his arms, his feet dragging in an attempted walk, but he had not urged Dean away or protested his help as he had done while hurt so many times in the past year. Something was different. Actually, if Dean thought about it a moment longer, something was...familiar. Dean earmarked the thought and focused on getting Sam to the bed across the room he had correctly remembered from their last trip to the Milligan house.

Sam's knees gave way again halfway across the room. Dean quickly slid his hands down, grappling for a hold to halt Sam's descent towards the floor. He hooked his left elbow under Sam's shoulder, his right arm reaching across Sam's waist. Dean felt his palm slip over something slippery a split second before a whimpered cry broke from Sam.




"Please, Dean...jus' stop." Sam whispered tightly. Dean let a controlled fall take him down to one knee, the other bent and propping Sam's back up.

"Okay, stopping. Got it." Dean said softly, suddenly handling Sam as if he were made of glass.

"M'good." Sam slurred.

"M'sorry?" Dean ducked his head closer to catch the weak voice.

"M'good...righ' here."

Dean couldn't fight the tug of a smile at his mouth at the reminder of the first time Sam had gotten genuinely sauced when he was seventeen. He had insisted then too that he was just fine with sleeping on the floor. Which had actually been a good call, considering the amount of beer he'd thrown up not long after curling up right next to the television.

"If you insist." Dean carefully snuck an arm around the middle of Sam's back and dropped his knee down before lowering him to the floor. A silent wince furrowed Sam's brow and he let out a heavy breath once his head came to rest on the floor. Dean's eyes flicked down and caught immediately on the softball-sized sphere of blood he hadn't noticed before on the left side of Sam's shirt. He grabbed a pillow from the bed and eased it between the hardwood floor and Sam's shaggy head before kneeling back at his injured side.

Dean winced at the tear in the flesh just below Sam's ribs. It appeared to be a shallow stab wound. The opening wasn't too big, but the edges were torn and puffy and red with evident abuse. Dean rolled Sam's nearest arm over to check the gruesome sight there. The bleeding had all but stopped, but the deep slices required a lot of stitches. Both injuries warranted immediate attention. Dean would need the medical kit from the Impala's trunk.

"Sit tight." Dean gave Sam's leg a pat. "I'll be right back." Dean got his feet under him and started to stand. The firm and sudden hold on his wrist stopped him short.

"No." The whimper was a raw plea and it successfully upgraded the pangs Dean had felt earlier to a full-on kick to the gut. "Don' leave." Sam's closed eyelids fluttered and his brow furrowed.

Dean felt the air suddenly clench out of his chest as he looked down at the almost pathetic expression on his brother's face. "Not different. Familiar." Dean's features softened, his tightly clenched jaw going lax. He was finally able to put his finger exactly on it, the change in Sam's demeanor that had struck him as odd earlier. Swallowing over the newfound and suffocating tightness in his throat, Dean gently encircled the wrist below the hand latched onto his arm.

"Two minutes, Sam. I promise." It seemed to appease the younger Winchester somewhat and, when Sam's hold loosened, Dean gave the wrist a gentle squeeze and placed it down on the floor. He stood up quickly and walked stiffly past Sam and out of the room.

The walls felt too close, the air inside the unfamiliar house insufficient and stale. Dean needed to get out. Just needed to get outside, to the Impala, and think for a minute. His heart had reached a painful string of fast beats as his hand clenched around the knob on the front door and jerked it open.

Sam was acting different.

Dean stalked down the sidewalk leading away from the house. Ten, nine, eight paces away from the Impala.

Something had shifted. Sam was acting...

Three, two, one, Dean jolted forward onto his hands, arms braced straight against his car's trunk. He gulped in deep breaths as he stared at the shiny black surface through swimming eyes.

Sam was acting Sam. The Sam he had left behind over a year ago. The Sam he had practically raised himself and shadowed for most of his life. Not the Sam he had come back to in Pontiac, Illinois. Not the Sam who kept secrets from him and disappeared for hours at a time, thinking Dean didn't notice when he snuck out of their room at two and sometimes three in the morning. This was just Sam. Sammy.

Dean rubbed the back of his hand hard over his mouth. Why he chose now to break down when that was exactly what he'd felt like doing for the past ten months, he didn't know. His brother was finally his little brother again and Dean had fled. He realized the irony of it, but this, it was too much. Overwhelming and...God, just so relieving. Just as suddenly as the urge to get away had come, it was gone, leaving Dean with only desperation to get back to his injured yet perfectly fine brother.

Dean scrubbed a hand quickly over his face, clearing his vision in the movement. He dug the keys out of his back, jean pocket, opened the trunk, snagged the medical kit, and closed it again all in the span of ten seconds. Tucking the kit under his arm, Dean rushed back up the sidewalk and into the house, not slowing his fast-paced gait until he had rounded the corner into the bedroom and was able to see his brother again, some unbelieving part of him worrying that the last ten minutes had been another bout of "typicalness" from the universe.

Dean let himself breathe again when Sam was exactly as he'd left him. The ever-too long head of hair rolled weakly towards Dean as he approached. Slits of sea green appeared and the face encompassing them seemed to relax once their unfocused gaze fell on Dean.

"Missed me, huh?" Dean snarked, his smile cautious as he knelt back at Sam's left side. A low sound, indiscernible as a negative or an affirmative, rumbled from Sam. His head swiveled to follow Dean's movements even though his eyes had slipped closed again.

Dean opened the med kit and dug through it for the supplies he would need. He found each item and lined them up on the floor. Suture kit, sealed alcohol pads, sterile bandages. Dean placed them all lightly on the hardwood, throwing frequent glances at Sam, checking, as if afraid that the slightest wrong move would cause a chain reaction leading to Sam suddenly switching back on to quiet, distance mode. Dean had no idea what had caused the change, but at this point he wasn't willing to look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth. But...he couldn't help it. He wanted to be sure.

Dean set down the roll of medical tape he was holding and moved his hand up to gently pat the side of Sam's jaw. "Sam?" Sam made a quiet sound of protest and scrunched his brow. "Open your eyes. Just for a second, okay?" The pale face lolled against Dean's hand before turning towards him. Sam's eyelids scrunched and fluttered and Dean stilled his breathing as they started to lift.

Pain and hurt, sorrow and loss. A lifetime of hardship and four months of personal Hell greeted Dean once the sea green gaze finally met his and for a moment, his hope started to dwindle and crack. But then, strong enough to mostly overshadow all that, was love. Was trust. And a little brother who looked up to his older sibling. Who went to him for refuge and faith. Staring back at him was someone who had seen too much and been able to hold on to too little. Someone was was, wholly and completely, Sam Winchester.

Dean blew out a heavy breath quickly followed by a sharp and shaky inhale. Pressure built in his sinuses and at the back of his eyes. The fissures in his hope melded back together as he finally found what he had so long been searching and waiting for and for what he had hoped to see. Dean's throat bobbed as he worked to swallow, to find the words. He nodded his head lightly.

"There you are."

It was a broken and choked whisper, but it was the first thought that came to Dean's mind and yet the words were somehow able to completely sum up the desperation that had gripped him for the past year.

"Dnn?" Sam breathed quietly. Concern and confusion scrunched his nose a little, but Dean could swear that there was some level of understanding in his eyes. A lone tear slipped lazily down Sam's temple and disappeared into his hair. His right arm lifted heavily and fell to grasp at Dean's elbow. Dean smiled shakily but genuinely and gripped the side of Sam's neck.

"Sam." He answered, just wanting to say the name, affirming it. The moment stretched out long enough for the house to become quiet again, for Sam to curl his fingers a little tighter around the jacket sleeve clutched in them, and for Dean to wonder if just maybe the universe had finally decided to cut him a break. Finally, he gave Sam a gentle shake and focused back on the task at hand, his movements more confident and more comfortable than before.

The next hour and a half was spent swabbing wounds clean, applying sterile gauze and medical tape, and threading many, many stitches. By the time 1 A.M. rolled around, Dean's back and shoulder muscles were taught and achy from his continued slouch on the floor and Sam was long since asleep. The fact made Dean uneasy, but with going to a hospital for a blood transfusion out of the question, there was no other choice but to let Sam rest and let his body replenish what it had lost.

Dean carefully wrapped and secured gauze around Sam's right arm, successfully covering the last step of his patch job. Falling back off of his aching knees to sit heavily on the floor, Dean took a moment to assess Sam's condition again. Lines of pain had added a bit more gnarly character to his pale features, but the even breathing and strong, though still slightly sluggish, pulse promised that Sam would pull through with plenty of rest.

Dean retreated his fingers back from their feel at Sam's neck and propped both arms in front of him on his knees, letting them hang wearily in between. He just sat and watched his brother as he slept. Sam always went back to looking about five years old when he was asleep; the soft expression, the often haunted eyes shielded from view, the always lengthy hair rebelling and falling in his face. Caught in a moment of nostalgia, Dean reached over and brushed the bangs out of Sam's closed eyes. Sam stirred briefly then stilled again. Dean smiled and shook his head fondly when the bangs he had just tucked away skittered back down to fan over Sam's brows.

Dean still was not interested in questioning a good thing, but he couldn't help but wonder what had spurred Sam's sudden return to...himself. It wasn't simply because his defenses were down and he was helpless. There had been a few hunts over the past ten or so months that had found Sam in a similar, though perhaps slightly less critical, state and bravado had always been so tightly laced into his demeanor that Dean was surprised it hadn't suffocated him.

Perhaps it was the hunt? Maybe everything that had gone on with Adam and the ghouls had caused some sort of revelation for Sam, had showed him what truly mattered. Even though to Dean it had seemed like the only think that had mattered to Sam was that there was another potential hunter to be introduced to the nightmarish world of truth they lived in, but he pushed the thought aside. That didn't matter now. Adam had been spared their life, even if it had been at the cost of his own. He was probably in complete peace right now, resting safely.

Dean envied Adam for that. For Dean, that particular light at the end of the tunnel was lost. Obscured by uncertainty and shades of gray. Before Dean had learned that he'd been the one to break the first seal on the door holding back the apocalypse and that he, and he alone, would have to stop it, Dean thought that maybe God had chosen him for a second chance. For redemption. Now, he realized he'd been raised out of necessity. Castiel had said it, plain and simple, the man who starts the apocalypse is the only one who can end it. Dean wasn't at all certain that he deserved it, but he dared let himself hope that just maybe necessity could lead to redemption.

He had never had much faith throughout his life, only able to recall a skimpy handful of times he felt compelled enough to consider a Higher Power's existence. After the freak accident he'd witnessed in Rhode Island during the Father Gregory incident, more faintly after meeting Layla and witnessing the strength of her faith, and another time when Sam was just a kid. Sam had been kidnapped by the subject of their hunt and had been missing four days before, to this day, Dean inexplicably knew exactly where he and John should look next. All those moments of faith were long in the past, but Dean had been trying lately to get them back. He was trying really hard.

Dean blinked as Sam began to stir. He rocked forward onto his knees again and put a hand on Sam's shoulder. "Hey." Dean gave a gentle squeeze and Sam hummed an inquiring sound. "Ready to upgrade to a mattress yet?" Sam's face scrunched and he pushed weakly at Dean, drawing a chuckle. "I'm gonna take that as a yes."

Dean stood and moved around to Sam's head. He leaned down and hooked both arms under Sam's shoulders. "Alright, Sammy. Let's try this one more time." Dean grunted as he heaved Sam to his feet and secured a hold with Sam's right arm across his shoulders and his own wrapped around Sam's back. They completed the journey that had stalled nearly two hours earlier and made it to the bright, floral-printed bed.

Dean plucked back the comforter before carefully levering Sam onto the pastel pink sheets lurking below it. Despite his earlier grumblings, Sam let out a contented-sounding sigh as he settled heavily into the plush bed.

"If only you could see the bedspread your snuggling up to." Dean grinned as he pulled the fluffy comforter up under Sam's shoulders, the injured arms out on top. He stood and watched until Sam quickly fell back into an exhausted slumber. Dean knew it wasn't exactly the best idea to squat in a house that was a sealed crime scene. But it was just that: a sealed crime scene and he didn't expect any cops or detectives to come poking around, definitely not at 1:30 in the morning. They just needed to stay long enough for Sam to get enough rest and strength back before Dean hauled him back to the motel. Besides, there were a few things out in the living and dining room that needed to be taken care of. Dean brushed his fingers lightly over the comforter covering Sam's chest and turned out of the room.

The ghouls were first. Sometime during the past few hours, the two corpses had morphed back into their true forms. Tucked in between the layers of clothing, practically drowning in the fabric, was a much smaller, gangly-limbed, rotted-looking creature with skin having a similar appearance to that of smoked oysters. Salting and burning would call too much attention, instead Dean removed the clothes and piled the bodies in the pantry. Yes, the cops may still find them, but it would be up to them what to make of the situation. The clothes, Dean burned carefully in the bathtub, rinsing the ashes down the drain afterwards. Next he wiped down his and Sam's fingerprints. Dean considered cleaning up the splattered tissue from his well-placed headshot and the candlestick he'd used to waste the ghouls, but it too had changed back to a foreign substance and wouldn't matter in the long run. Last, purposefully, was the bloody kitchen table and the congealed crimson filling the bowls beneath it. Sam's blood. Dean had ignored it and avoided looking at it during his entire clean up session, but now it was the only thing left to dispose of.

He pulled in a steady breath through his nose and proceeded. Dean emptied the bowls in the kitchen sink and rinsed them clean. He turned on the garbage disposal when he was done and stashed the bowls under the sink. He then cleaned the thankfully small amount of splattered blood off the table and floor and burned the cloth in the sink, the ashes joining Sam's blood down the drain afterwards. All done. All evidence—or the important stuff anyway—destroyed. Dean finished up by scrubbing his hands clean using half the bottle of Palmolive lotion plus handwash sitting on the sink's edge.

It was almost 2:20. Time to check on Sam. And not a moment too soon. Dean heard his name softly called when he was four steps from the bedroom door. He covered the stretch of floor remaining between him and Sam and sat down on the bed by Sam's hip.

"M'here, Sam." Sam's left eye pried open briefly before falling closed again.

"W'were you?" Sam breathed.

"Making sure all evidence of our existence is kept to a bare minimum." Dean breathed out a quiet laugh. The corners of Sam's mouth tugged up a little before softening again. Dean quickly checked Sam's bandages and smoothed the blanket back when neither his forearms nor the stab wound on his side had bled through the gauze. "Get some more rest." Sam didn't need much more convincing apparently, and fell back to sleep.

3:15 found Dean slouched in a chair pulled up to the bed to keep watch over Sam.

At 4:10, Sam's sleep took on an edge of restlessness. His eyes started to dart about beneath their lids and he would twitch occasionally. Dean noticed a fine sheen of sweat on his forehead as well and he leaned forward to reach a hand out, fully expecting a fever. But Sam's skin was cool under the palm of his hand, albeit a little clammy.

Dean's concern deepened at Sam's strange reaction to his injuries and at 4:58, he woke him and insisted they return to the motel. Sam complied and ten minutes later, he was slumped in the passenger's seat of the Impala, Dean behind the wheel.

Back at the motel, Sam's rest continued to grow increasingly agitated. The film of sweat had grown to a line of beads along his hairline. His heartbeat was no longer sluggish, instead pounding along hard and fast. Dean kept a worried bedside vigil as long as he could before sheer exhaustion from a night of breaking himself out of a mausoleum, wasting two creatures of the unnatural, and taking care of an injured little brother caught up with him.

Finally at 10:00 A.M., Dean leaned forward in the chair he'd situated himself in next to the bed, and rested his head by Sam's elbow, his hand wrapped loosely around the pale wrist to gauge heartbeat and so he might be easily alerted if Sam needed anything. He fell sleep before he could decide whether or no he was perpetuating a chick flick moment.


"D-Dnn?" The stuttered voice woke Dean immediately. And made him quickly aware that the pulse in the wrist his fingers were still wrapped around was racing, the arm itself shaking. Dean sat bolt upright, all his senses immediately snapping from sleep to full alert. Tremors racked Sam's body. Glassy eyes looked desperately up at Dean.

"Sam?" Alarm spiked in Dean's voice. "What...what's wrong?" Sam's lips moved silently a few times over chattering teeth. "Sam, what is it?" Dean moved over onto the bed and leaned towards Sam, hands ghosting over his chest and arms, not sure what to do.

"N-need my...I'nnneed..." Sam paused and suddenly looked away from his brother. Dean shook his head, not understanding, his eyes darting desperately over Sam's face.

"You need your what?" Sam shook his head weakly against the pillow. "Sammy, talk to me, what do you need?" Dean dropped his voice a little, his tone stern with worry.

"N-nothin'." Sam breathed finally. Sheer concern made Dean let it go and move on to another tactic.

"Wha-...Are you cold?" Sam looked back at him finally. He started to shake his head but stopped.

"I'don' know." He whimpered. Dean immediately nudged Sam over on the bed and moved up to sit by his shoulder. Dean pulled Sam up and leaned him against his side, Sam's head resting against the side of his chest. He pulled the blanket up, carefully over Sam's mummified forearms, and wrapped his arms around him to secure the blanket around Sam's shoulders. It was a proximity that Dean allowed and offered freely under only the most appropriate of circumstances. Most likely able to appreciate this fact, Sam did not protest and actually leaned willingly against Dean. Gradually the tremors lessened and receded to a low tremble. Dean could still feel Sam's heart racing against his side, but it had slowed somewhat since its previous, frantic cadence.

Dean had begun to drum his fingers lightly where they still cradled around Sam's shoulder, tapping out one of the drum solos from Inna Gadda Da Vida onto the fabric covering Sam's bicep. The action was habitual and absent as he stared pensively ahead, confused yet thinking anyway. Dean had never known blood loss to cause symptoms like Sam's. He himself had suffered from it more times than any one person should in their lifetime, and not once had he been stricken with tremors or his heart reached such a frantic rate. Quite the opposite, what little Dean could remember from those times, his heart rate had stayed almost scarily calm and he recalled not moving for hours at a time, not having the strength to.

Dean suddenly wondered if the ghouls had dosed Sam with something. Perhaps in order to be able to restrain him and now the after effects were becoming evident. But Dean dismissed the thought. If Sam had been sedated, he wouldn't have woken up from the initial dose yet, and if he had been poisoned with something, the effects would have been evident much earlier.

"M'sry." The slurred apology caught Dean off guard. Sam had fallen so quiet, Dean had suspected he'd drifted off to asleep again. Dean had dropped one arm from around Sam, but his right still curled around his brother's shoulders as Sam rested against him.

"What for?"

Sam was quiet again for a few moments. Dean looked curiously down at the awkward angle he had of Sam. Sam's sleep-tousled hair was in his direct line of sight and he could see the lashes of his right eye and the tip of his nose, but couldn't make out his expression.

"F'r e'rything." Sam elaborated quietly. Dean blinked, again surprised simply because he never thought he would hear it. He had expected a lot of apologies over the past year. After he'd caught Sam for the first time exorcising, after the siren, for all the shady phone calls and late night rondezvous. For Adam. And there, in one fell swoop, an apology for everything, in total. Dean had often pictured himself being hesitant if Sam ever apologized. Perhaps tearing Sam a new one for doing all the things that warranted apology in the first place, but all Dean felt was relief. And forgiveness.

For his own, different reasons—for Jessica, for Dad, for his own crossroad deal and leaving Sam alone to become different—Dean said, "Me too."

Silence stretched again. Some sort of foundational shifting caused a creaking noise to sound loud in the room, but for the first time in a very long time, the quiet wasn't deafening. Wasn't painful. It was...easy. Dean looked down when he felt his shirt pull and watched as Sam twisted his fingers gently in the fabric covering his right side. Dean's mouth curved into a peaceful smile. This was familiar. An action that was once so frequent a very, very long time ago, brought on whenever Sam had a nightmare or was scared by the decidedly unreal monster under his bed.

"Go back to sleep, Sammy." Dean said softly, echoing the same gentle comfort from hundreds of stormy nights and tear-drowned sea green eyes. A deep exhale a few minutes later signaled that Sam had obeyed and Dean found himself quickly following suit.


Brightness against his eyelids lured Dean back up through the veil of sleep. He was rolled onto his left side at the very edge of the bed and the sun was shining blindingly through the window he was facing. Dean grumbled as he immediately clenched his freshly opened eyes against the brilliant glare. He pushed himself up a bit and twisted to squint over his shoulder. The bed was empty, as was the one across from it, but the bathroom door was closed and a line of light punctuating the bottom signaled the presence beyond it.

Dean grunted quietly as he rolled over and reached for the digital clock on the nightstand, turning it towards him. 7:15 A.M. Dean's eyebrows immediately arched. Damn. He'd been asleep for close to twenty-two hours. He wondered how much of that Sam had slept for. As if on cue, the bathroom door opened and Sam stepped out. He looked up and seemed to startle a bit as his eyes fell on Dean looking back at him.

"You're awake." Sam said coolly. Dean felt a slight sinking feeling in his chest at the tone in his voice. He pushed himself up against the headboard as he rubbed a hand over his eyes and face.

"Either that or we're both still sleepin'." Dean mumbled tiredly. He dropped his hand back in his lap. "How long've you been up?" Sam shrugged and shifted his weight between his feet.

"Not long. Maybe twenty minutes." Dean nodded slowly, eyes discretely sweeping over Sam. He looked steady on his feet, he wasn't shaking at all, or sweating, and his face had lost some of its pallor. Sam looked...fine, actually.

"How are you feeling?" Dean asked cautiously. Sam nodded and ducked his head, eyes dropping to look at the floor. Dean felt himself tense at the obvious evasion and he felt the sinking feeling continue in his chest.

"I feel fine." Sam looked up and nodded at Dean. "Better." He gave him a curt smile. "Thanks." Dean continued to look steadily at him.

"Anytime." He said in a measured tone. Sam nodded again and moved over to his duffle, unzipping it...

Please continue to ending 1 or 2. Your choice; )