There was a crack on the ceiling.

Sam didn't actually care about that. A crack was just that: spindly black tearing through white. It was a natural part of life; things fell apart, the center could not hold, and so on. It was fate. But everywhere else he turned, there was Dean. Dean's coat, Dean's bag, Dean's guns—


Dean himself. Maybe that was fate too.

Sam shut his eyes, begging sleep to come and mumbled a quick "Mmm." He hoped he sounded tired—he was tired. They'd been hunting for a week straight, barely having time to breathe never mind sleep. The only reason Dean was still upright was that beard that kept him bitching and itching for the past two days.

It was the beard that saved him now, as Dean grumbled a quick "Whatever" and stepped into the bathroom. Sam counted the steps as he shivered, tried not to shiver as he focused his attention. One, two, three …

God, he was hungry.

Well, not hungry. There was soup on the nightstand if he was that and he couldn't stand to even look at it. Tomato red, blood red. Not red enough.

He shivered. Fate.

It was too early for this, for hunger. It had only been days since he last saw Ruby. He shouldn't need it like this, not yet. Though it had been getting quicker; he had noticed that, vaguely. He'd gone for months without it, desperate to do right by Dean, and it hadn't been more than an annoyance. Months. When did months become weeks? Days?

He couldn't say but he shivered again, turning on his side. When didn't matter. Getting his phone mattered; making sure Ruby did what she was supposed to and got a room at the motel five blocks down mattered.

Knowing what time it was definitely mattered.

He pulled his arm slowly from underneath the pillow and checked his watch: 7:20. Damn. He still had hours before Dean slept. Couldn't make a dinner run either, they'd done that. Damn, damn, shit, shit, would he really have to wait? Maybe he could just go. It wasn't like Dean didn't know something was up already. He probably wouldn't ask, would just try and sigh and turn away.

But if he does, then we're all fried potatoes.

No, he couldn't go. If Dean tailed him … he couldn't stand another argument-but-not either.

But could he stand this?

He shivered again. More than shivered. Convulsed, as his knees snapped up to his stomach and his teeth clenched together. Blood. There was blood, faint but fresh, right but wrong, so wrong. Human, he could tell—there was no burn of sulfur. Nothing but a mocktail, but enough to bother him now.

"Freaking razors." Dean. The smell got stronger as his brother came into view, napkin smudged with it crammed into his hand before he tossed it in the can between their beds. It had to be between. Dean had to shave. Dean had to cut himself.


Dean faced him and continued, "Maybe I'll just keep the beard next time. Or would that be too Unabomber?"

It was a peace offering. Who knew why, but he'd be damned (ha) if he wasn't going to take it. "Already halfway there."

No smirk on Dean; just a tight, quick upturn of the lips before settling back into a frown. "You look like you just got your ass handed to you in pieces."

Damn. It wasn't a peace offering; just a set-up. "Just tired."

"Uh-huh. And that whole sickly, ghost look is just a new thing you're trying."

Sam didn't respond. Bad decision, as Dean's hand shot out to his forehead and God it smelled like it; he must have wiped it off with his palm first, it was so strong. Sam shivered again, cursing himself for it. Like Dean needed more fodder.

"Dammit, Sam, you're like a snow cone."

Yes. There. Salvation. "It's cold."

"A melting snow cone—it's cold so you're sweating?"

No response. Finally (too soon) Dean's hand retreated.

Dean himself did not.

"Are you high?"


"—Well, actually I guess the question is are you not high—"

"—Dean. I'm not on drugs."

Pause. "Yeah, I guess not."

"I'm just tired. Or sick. I don't know what, but not that, okay?"

"Sure. Fine."

Sam got up—or tried. Big mistake, as he crashed back into the mattress, hiding it as well as he could. He settled for raising his voice, tone mock-offended. "I'm telling the truth, Dean."

"No, you're not."

Just that, matter of fact, the tone as tired as Sam felt. At some point, Dean moved; when, Sam didn't know, his eyes having shut on their own accord. At some point, he slept, till the light switched off and his body convulsed itself awake. Just like that, shiver shiver NIGHT. Night and Dean was asleep.

He moved. He stood. He even walked, the cheap carpet coarse beneath his feet and white walls circling around his head. He shivered again—full-on shook, actually, his body refusing to stop. He fell, vomit bursting from his lips like blood from the rock, on and on.

At some point, Dean was touching him. Holding, even, a tight grip on Sam's shoulder and a quiet whisper at his ear. What exactly, Sam didn't know. Maybe they weren't words at all, just low notes of comfort in an aimless song, because at some point, he did hear him ask:

"Is this really worth it, Sam?"

Sam dry-heaved, appreciating it every second. Couldn't talk when your stomach was tossing up air to ease a nausea it didn't want, to distract from a hunger it didn't want to admit.

"Damn it."

The grip loosened, disappeared, leaving his shoulder cold.

"Well. Go."

What? He looked up. Dean turned away, rubbed at his nose with the back of his hand.

A tap at the window redirected his gaze. The curtain was open, just slightly, Ruby's eye popping out to watch him. Dean didn't see though; couldn't, as when he turned back Dean had already gone back to bed.

"Just do it fast."

It wasn't acceptance. Pain crept in with every syllable, and his brother still didn't look at him. It was resignation, pure and simple, and Sam cherished it, with only a passing thought as to how wrong that was.

He got up and stumbled out through the crack of the door, the smell of Dean's blood still stewing his guts.

I was torn about the ending of this one a lot; namely, Dean's decision. It's a weakness that I see, and I really still honestly have no trouble picturing Dean doing this if he didn't 1)fully realize what it meant in terms of the Sam and Ruby relationship and 2) didn't know it was demon blood, as he spent the entirety of the season largely ignoring the situation until the two became clear. But admittedly, I am a Sam fan and I've always wondered if that taints my view of them both. Audley, beta extraordinaire, though is a Dean girl and she saw no issue with it, so I'm going to take a shot.

So, thanks to her, for being incredible and reteaching me the art of shutting up instead of typing on and on.

Until we meet again.

Disclaimer: Supernatural belongs to Eric Kripke, Warner Bros, the CW, but most importantly, not me. This fic is purely for pleasure, not profit.