A/N: I know, I know. I'm not the first to write a story tag to 'Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things', but it seemed to me that Sam didn't seem to hurt his hand all that bad when he said that he thought he broke it, so I decided to add a little more hurt on him. Why? Maybe because I'm a little bit of a sadist. Anyway, I also felt that Sam and Dean would have had a lot more to say to each other at the end of that episode and this is my take on what could have been. Let me know what you think whether it's good or not. :D

Handling It

By Mamapranayama

******

"Hey...How's the hand?"

"Huh?" Sam had become so accustomed to the sound of silence in the car, that he was surprised by the sudden question as it jerked him out of the thoughts that had consumed him the last few hours.

"Your hand, genius, or did you forget that you hurt it?"

Actually, he had pretty much forgotten about it. The pain in his right hand after he was tackled by that crazy, zombie bitch had been pretty bad at first, especially after he and Dean spent all night re-burying her un-dead ass. But, as he flexed his fingers and tried it out, he realized it had subsided considerably.

"Oh...It's not too bad. A little sore, but I think it'll be okay."

"Ya sure? There's a town not far from here, I'm sure they'll have a little medical center, we should get some x-rays."

"It's fine...really. Not even swollen. See?" He held it up to Dean as he shot him a concerned but 'I-guess-I'll-have-to-believe-you-because-you're-a-big-boy' kind of look.

Dean turned his eyes back towards the road and drove on. The uncomfortable silence returned, stretching on for miles and for once, Sam actually wished that his brother would turn on the radio or pop a tape in the cassette player. At least then, there would be something besides the cold void between them. He'd even settle for Guns 'n Roses if that's what it took.

But Sam knew that his big brother was still trying to deal with the things he had finally opened up to him about after he pulled over to the side of the road, apologizing for the way he had been acting since their father died.

"Dad's dead because of me"

"I never should have come back"

"I should have stayed dead"

"You wanted to know how I was feeling, well that's it. So tell me, what could you possibly say to make that alright?"

Deans bitter words and the memory of his tears were still bouncing around inside Sam's head and he felt bad now for constantly pushing him to talk about Dad's death. He thought that getting his brother to talk about what he was feeling would help him and allow him move on, but he couldn't remember a time when Dean had seemed so vulnerable and so close to a total breakdown.

It took a lot for Dean to expose himself that way, yet Sam knew there were still things he was holding inside and who could blame him? He was right, what could he say to make him feel any better? Dean's anguish over being brought back from the brink of death in exchange for his father's life had affected his older brother in ways he couldn't even fathom and while Sam had loved his father and missed him dearly, he never had the kind relationship that Dean and Dad had and he knew that he was more than just brokenhearted, he was devastated.

Dean nearly worshiped the ground that their father walked on. He did everything his father told him to like a grunt would to a general. He acted like him, dressed like him, even followed in his footsteps chasing after the supernatural, but he never saw himself as being worthy of that kind of devotion himself. But, if Sam had to point to one person in his life that he looked up to the most while growing it had to be his big brother, hands down. It had been Dean that practically raised him, who made him do his homework, that fed him, watched out for him, told him things would be okay when they were left on their own for days at a time. He just wished that Dean could see his own life as being just as important as their father's. To Sam, his biggest problem was he didn't think himself worth the sacrifice his father made. He truly believed that his life was worth less than that of their father.

So the miles slipped by and they hardly spoke more than two words to each other and it felt like the silence was going to eat the two if them alive.

"Looks like we need gas." Sam shattered the quiet, pointing out the gas needle to Dean.

"I know. We'll stop off at the next town. It's getting late, we should get something to eat and a place to sleep anyway."

"Sounds good."

A dozen miles later and they were pulling into the first gas station in town. Sam climbed out of the car and stretched, his body sore from sitting for so long long while Dean went to the pump then swore.

"Goddamn pre-pay and no credit card reader on the pump." Dean shook his head and grumbled as he fished out his wallet. "Shitty, ass-backward towns, hasn't anyone heard of pay-at-the-pump?"

"I got it, Dean." Sam pulled out his own wallet and found a couple of twenties. "I'll go put forty dollars on it, that should hold us at least until we get to the next town."

"Whatever." Dean mumbled then turned from him and went to open the gas tank. Sam sighed and headed for the store to pay. It was going to be a long night if Dean was going to keep up the moody silence.

Before going to the counter to pay, Sam browsed around and grabbed a couple of sodas and two king-sized M&M bags to tide them over before they found a place to eat and stay for the night.

"I need forty dollars put on the pump." Sam informed the cashier that reminded him of a grisled Charlton Heston.

"Which car?" The cashier asked gruffly. Sam had thought they were they only car at the station at the time, but he looked up to see that a large, old, rusty Ford pick-up truck had pulled up to the other side of the pump.

"Oh, the black one." Sam kept an eye on the truck outside as a small posse of young men hopped out of the back and the cab, making a racket that could be heard through the walls of the store.

"Damn college kids." The cashier growled to Sam. "They come down here to hang out at the lake, get shit-faced drunk then drive around town like they own the place. If I was twenty years younger, I'd give them free tickets to the Bubba and Mac show." The cashier held up both of his fists and Sam wasn't sure what to think of a man's sanity when he named his fists.

Sam watched from the corner of his eyes as the kids approached Dean and circled around the Impala. Growing concerned, especially considering Dean's state of mind at present, he worried what a confrontation with them might entail. He swiftly paid the cashier and hurried to join Dean outside.

As soon as he left the store, Sam heard one of the boys whistle then exclaim: "Sweet ride, man."

"That she is, Dude." Dean replied coolly, keeping his eyes on the gaggle of guys as they walked around the car.

"Impala, right? What year is it?" A dark-haired guy, no more than twenty and the apparent leaded of the group asked as he looked over the highly polished paint job, the shiny, new hub-caps and bright, chrome trimmings that Dean had worked tirelessly to restore after the accident.

"'67." Dean replied. " Hey...don't touch that." He called out to one of the kids that had dared to run his hands along the trunk of the car. In snarky response, the boy just bent over to rest both of his elbows over the trunk, putting his chin in his hands and grinned. The other boys laughed along at the sight as Sam watched Dean's fists clench tightly and the muscles of his jaw locked together, grinding his teeth.

"I'd love to have a car like this, man." The dark-haired leaded told them. Sam came up to Dean's side, letting him know he was there and crossed his arms, providing his brother with a silent back-up.

"Get your own then." Dean came back, his breaking point just about ready to explode.

"But I like this one." The dark-haired boy insisted as if Dean would just hand over the keys to his baby because some punk-ass kid got in his face. Sam saw the tension in Dean's jaw as he ground his teeth together.

"Too bad." Dean stood his ground as the leader kid walked up and came nose to nose with him. That's when Sam noticed that one of the kids had a baseball bat in one hand and has begun to smack it into his hand threateningly.

"You little shits better get out of here now or things are gonna get real ugly, ya hear me?" Dean continued with a malice and hostility in his voice that nearly equalled the fire in his eyes. No one messes with his car. No one.

"That so?" With a quick flick of his head towards his friends, the leader signaled for his gang to move in on Sam and Dean. "Looks like there's more of us than there are of you."

It was five against two. Hardly fair odds, that is if the brothers hadn't learned how to fight before they could even read. They had faced tougher opponents and deadlier creatures than a bunch of drunk college kids before, so neither one of them was expecting this to last long.

Dean reacted before his brother by only a fraction of a second as he pulled back and swung a fist, connecting it to the face of the leader. The boy fell to the ground, cupping his bleeding nose and letting out a string of expletives.

"Get 'em!" He yelled to his friends.

All hell broke out after that as the boys ran in to attack the brothers. Dean took on two while Sam took on the other pair. One kid came at Sam and threw a wide swing, but he ducked and dodged, his reflexes too fast for the guy to do much more than fall over himself. Sam wasted little time punching him square in the nose, feeling the crunch of cartilage under his knuckles. As the kid fell to the ground, writhing around in a world of hurt, he himself registered a sharp pain through his already sore hand, but it was swiftly pushed aside by adrenaline and the need to go after the guy on his other side. Angered by seeing his friend felled so easily, the next kid came at him like a raging bull, but Sam simply swung out with his feet and swept the other kid's legs out from under him, dropping him to the ground in a matter of seconds and landing a swift punch that no doubt left him seeing stars.

Sam glanced over at Dean, he had laid his two opponents out as well, but was still working over the snotty boy that dared to touch his car. From the corner of his vision, Sam saw that the ringleader had grabbed the baseball bat that had fallen to the wayside during the melee and was hefting it angrily, heading for his brother's back.

There was no time to call out a warning to Dean and sensing that the kid was now so incensed by having his nose broken, that he was intent on killing his big brother. Sam launched into action and dove for Dean just as the kid swung the bat. If Sam had been just a few fractions of a second faster, he and Dean would have been clear of the impact, but all Sam managed to do was push Dean out of the way before the bat came bearing down on him. Acting on pure instinct, he raised his right hand to protect his head from the bat's force. It came down hard, landing on his wrist, crunching and cracking bones along the way. He couldn't help but cry out from the pain, falling to the ground to cradle his now definitely broken hand and wrist.

With a guttural howl, Dean was back in the action and drove himself head long into the kid's stomach like a demon-possessed line backer. Both men fell to the ground with Dean straddling the guy's chest, raining blow after blow into his once nice looking face. The other kids watched in horror as he brutally assaulted their leader.

"DON'T!" *punch* "TOUCH!" * punch* "MY BROTHER!" *punch* "OR MY CAR!" Before he could throw down another fist into the kid's face, a shot-gun blast exploded through the night air.

"That's enough!" Yelled the old cashier from the gas station store as he walked towards the group, the shot gun aimed and ready to fire again. "You punks get out of here before I call the cops and have you all arrested."

Dean breathed heavily, coming down from the adrenaline rush then rolled off his opponent, who lay moaning and bloody on the ground. The kids in the group that could stand again were hauling their weaving and barely conscious buddies up and back into the truck, defeat evident on their faces before they took off with a sqeal of the tires.

Sam barely noticed them leave as he lay on his side, holding his hand to his chest. Groaning with his eyes squeezed shut against the pain radiating through his wrist and hand, he shook from the effort it took turn over onto his back and a moment later, Dean's face was hovering over his, as was the gas station attendant.

"You okay, Sam?"

"Whadya think?" Sam managed to ground out between breaths and tightly clenched teeth.

"There's a hospital 'bout ten miles south of here." The cashier began, his face deeply lined into a scowl as he loomed over Sam, obviously still upset and angered from the fight near his store.

"I suggest you two get moving before I make good on my threat to call the cops and don't you dare come back here." The old cashier turned and headed back inside the store, grumbling beneath his breath as he walked away. "I don't need this kind of shit at my age."

"C'mon, Sammy. You heard the man. Let's get you to the hospital."

OOOOOOO

Several hours, many x-rays and some light sedation to set the bones in Sam's hand and wrist back into place, saw the two brothers heading into their motel room with the younger one sporting a heavy, white cast over his right hand and forearm.

Sam flopped down on the nearest bed as soon as they crossed the threshold, exhausted from the fight and the meds that had been pumped into him. He didn't even notice the creepy decorating in the old motel room, until Dean was quick to point out the unique taxidermy creations surrounding them as he turned on a stuffed squirrel that had been turned into a lamp.

"Yikes...Welcome to the Bates Motel. You can definitely have the first shower, little bro." He laughed as he pantomimed the the shower scene from Psycho complete with invisible knife and accompanying shrieks.

Sam looked up into the underside of the deer head trophy above him and rolled his eyes with a little smile, he was still swimming a little in his head from the pain medicine, but it was still good to hear Dean joke a little.

"You go ahead...I'm too tired. I'll take one in the morning."

Dean sat down on his bed with a little groan, taking off his shoes. Sam knew he was a little sore from the fight as well, but was too macho to admit that sort of pain.

Sam was almost asleep as Dean grew quiet again, but startled awake when his brother's suddenly angry voice cut across the quiet room.

"Goddamn it! What the hell were you thinking, Sam?"

"Huh? What are you talking about?" Sam asked, now fully alert and taken aback by his older brother's outburst.

"You. Taking on bat boy. That's what."

"So?" Sam came back, sitting up, and looking to Dean, his expression darkening. "He was gonna hit you."

"So, you decided to take the hit instead?"

"I just reacted. I tried to get us both out of the way. Jeez...what's your problem?"

"My problem is that I'm getting more than a little sick of this, Sam. You don't need to be throwing yourself in front of me and getting hurt. I don't need to be protected."

"That's where you're wrong, Dean. Sometimes you do!" Sam shouted back. "I'm supposed to have your back and I wasn't about to let that guy hurt you and the way he was aiming for you head, he could have killed you!"

"Then you should have let him. Then he'd just be doing what should have happened weeks ago!" Dean's voice rose even louder, no doubt waking anyone sleeping nearby.

Sam was on his feet, his blood pressure sky-rocketing, face reddening in anger as he whirled on Dean, aiming a pointed finger in his face, ignoring the soreness it caused his hand by just performing such a simple action.

"Don't you ever say that!" Sam voice cracked as he shouted, wanting nothing more than to throttle some sense into his thick-headed brother and shake the living bejesus out of him until he realized just how much he hated it that Dean didn't see himself as worth the sacrifice. Instead, he stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him, knocking over a stuffed beaver along the way.

OOOOOO

Sam just walked around for a while, trying to cool down and get his head back on straight before going back to his brother. He wasn't sure how long he had been out and when he came back, the Impala was still parked out front, but Dean was gone. Figuring that he too just needed some time to blow off a little steam, Sam laid down on the bed again and decided to wait for him to come back.

He was completely drained and he tried to sleep, but found it elusive despite his exhaustion. There was just too much going on in his head for it come. He had already lost Dad and now it felt like he was letting Dean slip through his fingers as well. Truth be told, he was so tired of all of this, of losing people he cared about and he didn't think he could survive any more losses. His brother was all that he had left. And while Dean was rightfully justified in being royally pissed off that their father made some sort of deal in exchange for his life, but if all of this 'I should be dead' crap continued for much longer, he would be gone soon as well.

Sam wasn't about to let that happen.

There had to be a way to get through to Dean. He just wasn't sure how. So far, talking hadn't helped a whole lot.

Glancing at the clock on the nightstand, he figured it had been about two hours since he got back after their fight and Dean was still gone. There was a bar across the street from the motel and if there was any place that his older brother was most likely to go, it was where his two favorite escapes were: beer and women.

Giving up on sleep and feeling the need to seek out Dean and drag him back, Sam swung his legs over the edge of the bed and headed for the door, but not before he heard a key being slid into the lock and the door swung open.

Giving the pungent smell of beer that floated into the room, an obviously drunk Dean stumbled in and almost fell over. If it hadn't been for Sam grabbing him around the waist and pulling him towards the bed, he would have fallen on his face.

"Hey, Sammy..." Dean slurred. "I wen' lookin for ya, but didn' find ya..."

"But it looks like you found the bar." Sam pointed out as he laid Dean down. Dean tried to sit up and unlace his boots, but couldn't get his fingers to cooperate with his intoxicated brain, so Sam pushed his hands away and took them off for him.

"Had a good time, did you?" Sam asked.

"Oooh yeah...here." Dean produced a wad of cash and thrust it into Sam's hands. "Won a few games of pool. That place's packed with suckers." Sam sighed and tossed the money onto the nightstand before he helped Dean take his jacket off too.

Dean looked up with droopy eyelids to Sam, his expression softened and that vulnerability that Sam saw earlier on the roadside came back to his eyes.

"Dean, about earlier...."

"Let's just forget it, 'kay?"

"How about we don't for once and we actually talk about it? I'm sick of just letting things fester like this. You finally open up to me and tell me how you feel, but you won't let me help. you just keep pushing..."

"I'm tired, Sam." Dean groaned and rolled onto his side, making it clear that he did not want to participate in this conversation.. Sighing, Sam sat down on the floor beside with his back against the bed and pulled his knees up to his chest. He wasn't going to drop this and he was going to speak even if Dean wasn't going to respond. One way or another he was going say what had been weighing most heavily on his chest and if his brother didn't like it, then that was just tough.

"I'm tired too, Dean. I'm tired of you thinking that you aren't worth protecting, that Dad made some sort of terrible mistake by bringing you back...But, if you want to know the truth, I understand why he did it. When I wonder about what life would have been like if you had died, I know that it would have been so much worse. Dad wouldn't have lasted long without you around, he'd be bitter and angry and it wouldn't have been long before we were fighting again. You're the one thing that made living with Dad bearable when we were kids and you were the one thing that kept us both from killing each other. Without you around, we would have had to go our separate ways eventually. Dad knew that and I think he couldn't stand the thought of losing you and being stuck with having me as his only remaining son. It was too much for him to lose."

It was quiet in the room and Sam wondered if Dean had fallen asleep.

"Tha's Bullshit." Dean mumbled back without moving a muscle, confirming that he was at least listening and was still awake. "Dad loved you, Sam. He would have done the same for you and so would I."

"Yeah? Then why is it so wrong that he did it for you? What would have made it okay for him to sacrifice himself for me, but not for you?"

"'Cause I'm not worth it." Dean whispered after a moment of silence.

"Now who's talking bullshit?"

"Seriously? You're smart, special, and you can still do so much....Me? I'm just an uneducated, ghost- chasing, grease monkey without much of a future."

Sam turned to look Dean in the eye.

"God, Dean...you don't really believe that, do you? 'Cause I sure as hell don't. I'll tell you one thing and you can hate me for saying this if you want- I don't care. But, I'm glad it was you that lived, whether it was because of that demon or not, I don't give a damn, because you're still here and that's all that matters to me. I hate that Dad had to die in order for that to be and I wish I could have you both, but you..." Sam nearly choked on his words as he tried to get them out past the lump growing in his throat. "you've always been there for me, even when Dad wasn't and I don't know what I would do without you around."

Dean rolled onto his back and flung an arm over his face to avoid any further eye contact, a typical tactic Sam was familiar with as it kept him from showing his little brother any of the emotion playing across his face. Sam turned away from him and sighed.

"God, this whole thing is pretty f****d up, huh?" Sam asked quietly as he tried to reach inside his cast and scratch an itch on his palm.

"Yeah" Dean replied with a snort. "There's the understatement of the year."

The itch on Sam's hand intensified, especially now that he couldn't reach it and he growled in frustration. Hearing the grumbling and string of curses flowing from Sam's lips as he tried to dig his finger under the cast had Dean sitting up to see what the matter was.

"Oh for Christ's sake-" Getting up off the bed, Dean bumbled his way over to the closet and pulled out a wire coat hanger, bending the hook until it was straight, then passing it over to Sam so he could use it slide under his cast and scratch his palm.

"Ahhhh-" He threw his head back in relief as his itch disappeared. He looked up at Dean in thanks.

"See what I mean...what would I do without you around?" Sam grinned.

"Oh, probably take a lot of bubble baths, watch beauty pageants and sing show tunes." Dean cocked a half-smile, his eyes giving it away that he was still buzzed from his visit to the bar. Sam took advantage of that and grabbed his brother's legs, sweeping them out from underneath him so that he would land on the bed, flat on his back

"Son of a bitch!" Dean laughed from the surprise physical assault "You better sleep with one eye open, Bitch. Because you are so gonna die."

"Right, as if you'd be anywhere near sober enough to take me on tonight, Jerk." Sam laughed getting up off the floor, relieved to see Dean at least smiling a real smile again. He knew that neither of them was even close to being okay and 'normal' had left the building long ago, but for the moment, it was enough to let each of them know that they'd get back there one day.

The End