Notes

Hey, guys! I missed posting stories and I had this one written awhile ago. Being me, I just obsessed over whether it was good enough to post and never did...but I am now: )

Alright, so little story behind this one. It's based on a story I heard in a sermon the last time I went to church two Easters ago...the best part of the service, actually. And no, it's not bible-related.

I thought the story was really sweet though and it always stuck with me and I finally realized I could apply it to our boys...YAY! :D

This takes place in 1990. Sam is 7, Dean is 11.

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"You're my big brother. There's nothing...I wouldn't do for you."

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My Brother's Keeper

"We've cleaned and sutured up the tears. Despite their depth and expanse, by some miracle, there is no internal damage."

At the age of thirty-six, John Winchester had had his share of regrets. Earlier in life they had started out smaller and less jarring. A missed opportunity here, a mistake there, a handful of what if moments, the usual things an average person has to deal with. The War had offered its own contribution, courtesy of the occasions when John had been unable to save a buddy during combat. And of course there was the tragic night of November 2nd, an event that was a mere three months short of reaching its seven year anniversary.

Up until yesterday, the inability to prevent his wife's death had been John's most haunting, number one regret. Yesterday, John made a decision that he would regret with a magnitude rivaling Mary's death for years to come.

"However, the wound is not the problem. The blood loss has triggered a hypovolemic state of shock...your son's body is struggling very hard to pump enough blood back to his heart."

The possibility of a new hunt had appeared to John in a missing flyer posted on the bulletin board of a small Tennessee town. Two family and friend interviews under the alias Paul Rogers and a few phone calls later, the subject of the hunt had been identified as a Warg. His oldest son's exuberance over the matter had made John chuckle and shake his head. Dean had begged his father to let him get in on the hunt, insisting that the opportunity to actually take on something from the Tokien books he had read to Sam a few years back was just too good to pass up. John had firmly refused, insisting right back that eleven was still too young for Dean to start in on such a dangerous hunt. Dean had looked genuinely disappointed, but had dropped the argument with a quiet,"Yessir."

Finding the damn thing had been ridiculously easy, serendipitous in a sense that would have been comical had things not gone so wrong so fast.

John had been driving back to their motel from dinner at a local Mom & Pop diner, his two sons sitting in the back seat. Dean had been spinning some fantastic tale that had Sam giggling and constantly asking questions about various, complicated-sounding aspects. John had turned his AC/DC cassette down after finding himself genuinely curious what happened next after the knight in rusting armor drew his lightsaber and charged the radioactive tarantula. It had just been a typical, rather enjoyable night...until the Warg had darted out of the the trees and in front of the Impala.

John had had to swerve in order to avoid hitting the beast's considerable bulk. After bringing the car to a skidding but safe halt on the grassy shoulder, he had stared wide-eyed as the creature snarled at him before it turned and galloped into the trees on the other side of the desolate road.

John had planned on heading out to hunt the thing after returning Dean and Sam safely to the motel. Instead, the hunt had found him and the temptation to pick up a lead when it appeared—quite literally—right in front of him was too strong to resist.

Making up his mind, John had cut the engine and jumped out of the car, answering his sons' startled inquiries with a gruff, "Stay here." A second door opening and closing followed a second later and Dean had appeared at John's side as he threw open the trunk.

"Dad, what's wrong?" With the explanation that they'd just almost hit the subject of John's hunt, Dean's eyes had widened. "I'll go with you." Dean had insisted again while reaching for a gun out of the weapon-stocked tire well. John had given him the same refusal as before. Dean was already an impressive shot with a gun and was well acquainted with the contents of his father's ever-filling journal, but he had yet to accompany him on a hunt. And John had assured Dean that this hunt would be no different.

"Not this one, Dean. Stay put, lock the doors, and keep Sam safe and in. the. car." As John had known it would—and always would—the Sam card had worked and successfully directed Dean back inside the Impala.

With a flashlight in one hand and his Smith & Wesson 4006 in the other—chocked full of blessed silver bullets—John had ventured into the dark, thick foliage of back-country Tennessee. A hundred yards into the dense trees and the Warg had rushed him. One hundred more yards of chase and three, centered body shots and the creature had been reduced to little more than a heap of mottled fur on the forest floor.

John had had to return to the road to gather accelerant, salt, and matches from the Impala. Not surprisingly, Dean had jumped out at his approach, his expression and soulful, green eyes making him look a decade and a half older as he'd asked John if he was okay. Once given an affirmative, Dean had requested he at least help with the salt and burn. John had paused with his hand on the red gallon container of gasoline and looked down at his son, considering. The threat had been eliminated. And John had been wanting to give Dean a smalltaste of the life stretched out before him. With a sigh and a small shake of his head, he had consented.

And thus made the choice he would regret for a long time.

John had appointed Dean the task of dispersing the salt over the corpse while he himself poured the lighter fluid. He had even allowed Dean to do the honors and finish the job by torching the body; he had been demonstrating pryomaniac-type tendencies lately and John had thought it might be healthy for his son to vent a bit of that fascination in a safer, more productive manner.

Dean had happily struck the match, letting is flare to life for a second before looking up at John. At his father's approving nod, Dean had dropped the match onto the Warg.

The immediate spread of fire over the prone body had camouflaged its unexpected movement.

With a shriek, the Warg had lashed out under the agony of the fire consuming it. John had pulled his 4006 from his jacket a split second too late and Dean had crumpled to the ground without a sound. The creature had squeaked as two more bullets entered its body—one more in the heart, the other right between its eyes—and fell back down, genuinely dead this time and still burning.

After that, everything had gone by in a series of blurry snapshots for John.

Dean's too-still body and his motionless features. The fresh claw marks gouged into the left side of his lower chest and the blood pumping copiously from them. The hasty trip back to the Impala and Sam's startled cry of his father's then brother's name. Sam's reaction would be another thing John wouldn't soon forget. His youngest son had been so scared. Sam had sat in the back seat as the Impala flew down the road, crying and holding his unconscious brother's head and shoulders in his lap. John knew he would never forget the way Sam sounded when he had pleaded for answers. "Why did this happen, Dad? Why is this happening to Dean?" It had disturbed John how Sam had chosen to form his questions. Instead of being held back by the what, Sam had moved right on to the why portion of the situation. The youngest Winchester's way of thinking had always been unique and matured way past his years. Unfortunately, John hadn't the time to humor his son's particularly enlightened thought process, nor the heart to tell him that Dean was hurt because his father screwed up.

"We have him on dopamine to try to bolster his blood pressure, but without a transfusion..." Dr. Femmit paused to shake his head, genuine concern in his mahogany-hued eyes. "...there's nothing else we can do."

"Fine. Then do it. Do I need to sign a consent form or something?"

"No. Unfortunately it's not that simple-"

"Then why don't you explain to what it is, doctor." John hissed in a low voice, fixing the doctor with a predatory gaze. A part of his mind remembered the three pieces of advice that his uncle Rob had told him once: never insult the banker who handles your money, goad the waiter who serves you your food, or anger the doctor who treats your loved ones. John knew he was seriously toeing the line of the third one especially, but he couldn't help it. He was tired, worried, and restless. And he had zero patience left to dance this particular jig with the doctor.

Dr. Femmit sighed wearily and looked down at his clipboard, seeming to contemplate his next words.

"Mr. Winchester, what is your blood type?" And suddenly John understood. He hung his head and cursed quietly when the explanation he'd demanded did nothing to improve the situation.

"My wife had the same, but I..." John shook his head and shrugged helplessly.

"You understand, Mr. Winchester, that people with O negative blood may only receive O negative blood. And I regret to inform you that we do not currently have any in our clinic." John swore again and rubbed a hand hard across his forehead. "We're a very small town here and there have been a number of accidents around here lately, with hunting season you understand, and our supply of O bloods have run out. Though I can tell you that we are due in for another shipment any day now."

"Can he wait that long?" John interrupted quickly. The doctor blinked at him and slowly parted his lips to speak. John scoffed bitterly and turned away from the doctor when he felt the hold on his emotions violently slip.

This was not happening. Dean dying because of him was not something John would be able to recover from. Why hadn't he demanded Dean stay at the car while he finished with the Warg? Perhaps it would have clipped him instead, leaving Dean to patch him up, but then at least it wouldn't be Dean who was suffering. Dying, for God's sake. John's eyes closed tightly against the image of the Warg's sharp claws flashing then Dean falling to the ground as it replayed once again at the back of his eyes.

"Mr. Winchester...what about your other son?" John opened his eyes reluctantly and raised his head slowly to look back at Femmit. The doctor nodded past John to where Sam sat in the waiting room with his knees pulled up to his chest and his arms wrapped tightly around them.

"Sammy?" John asked quietly, raising a curious eyebrow as he looked back at the man. Dr. Femmit nodded once. John shrugged. "What about him?" The doctor looked evenly at John.

"Does he happen to share his brother's blood type?" John stared, uncomprehending, at the man for a minute. Then blinked. The possibility hadn't even occurred to him. His face suddenly softened.

"Yes." John turned fully towards the Femmit. "My God, yes. Sam has O negative, just like Dean." The doctor nodded once more, his expression losing some of its somberness.

"This is excellent news, Mr. Winchester. A small blood transfusion paired with continued dopamine should tide Dean over until we can get him a more sufficient transfusion. With your permission, we'll take a donation from your son."

"It won't harm Sammy." It wasn't exactly posed as a question, but the doctor smiled softly and shook his head anyway.

"No, of course not. I would not dream of suggesting it if it would hurt him." John pulled in a steadying breath and nodded his consent. "Good. We should act immediately. If you just wait with him, a nurse will be out in a few minutes." With that, Dr. Femmit turned and went back through the double doors from which he had first come.

John turned and looked down the hall at his youngest. Sam was in the same position he'd huddled in after they had watched Dean rushed away on a gurney, surrounded by nurses and white-clad doctors. The young boy's silence scared John. Sam had cried, asked desperate questions, and talked quietly to his brother the entire ride to the hospital, but after Dean had been whisked away, Sam had fallen uncharacteristically silent and begun staring straight ahead at the floor in front of his chair.

John sighed and moved wearily back towards the waiting room and the small figure dwarfed in one of the hard-backed chairs that lined it. Sam didn't look up as he approached and John sat down in the chair next to him, angling to face towards him.

"Hey, Sammy. How'ya doin'?" Sam just shrugged his tiny shoulders non-commitedly and remained silent. John squared his shoulders towards Sam and propped an elbow on the back of his chair. "Listen, I gotta ask you something, buddy. Something pretty important." Sam looked up at that and blinked at John, waiting. Looking into the young, soulful, blue/green eyes, John's request suddenly sounded too great in his mind. It was too great, John knew that. But if it was in Sam's power to give something up he could afford to lose to save something neither of them could afford to lose, then John knew he had to ask of it. "If you could do something that would help Dean get better...would you?" Hope sparked in Sam's eyes and he immediately released his legs to face towards his father.

"I can help?" Sam's little hands gripped eagerly at the armrest of the chair. John smiled sadly and put a hand on the small head, brushing back the floppy bangs that Dean always teased him about.

"You can help." Sam rose up a bit to tuck his knees underneath him.

"How? What do I have to do?" John dropped his hand to cup the nape of Sam's neck and gave it a squeeze. He cleared his throat, face sobering.

"Dean needs a blood transfusion...Do you know what a blood transfusion is?" Sam nodded and John suddenly became very curious just how Sam already knew that. "Well, the thing is, he needs a special type of blood. And...you're the only one who has it right now." Sam's mouth formed into a tiny "o" shape. His big, sea-green eyes blinked owlishly at John a few times before dropping and searching the open space between them. John knew it was a lot to ask of a seven year old and, God help him, if there were any other way...

Sam raised his head and looked evenly at his father. John felt his breath catch at the amount of resolve etched in the small face.

"I'll do it." Sam proclaimed firmly with a curt nod of his head. John felt his heart warm and his eyes fill a bit over his youngest's love and devotion and bravery. He smiled. Maybe he hadn't exactly been father of the year for seven years running, but John realized he must have done something right with those two kids.

"That's m'boy." John's voice was tight as he gave Sam's shoulder a light clap.

"Mr. Winchester..." Both John and Sam looked around at the gentle voice. A nurse stood before them, her heart-printed scrubs hinting the kindness already visible in her warm smile and the crinkles around her eyes that deepened with the movement. "We're ready for you, little guy." She said, bending over and bracing her outstretched arms against her knees in order to match Sam's eye-level. Sam looked back at John before turning and sliding off his chair. John kept a hand protectively at the back of Sam's neck as they followed the nurse past the check-in station and into a little, white-walled examination room.

John hooked his hands under Sam's shoulders and lifted him up onto the examining table as the nurse flitted about the room gathering supplies. She hung an empty bag low on a stand next to the examination table Sam was perched on and attached a tube to it. Rolling up a seat, she sat down while pulling on a pair of gloves, the distinct smell of latex hanging pungently in the air. Her laugh lines deepened again as she smile at Sam.

"This is a very brave thing you're doing." Sam didn't answer, just shrugged vaguely and leaned back against the slight incline of the table. The nurse gently unfolded Sam's left arm and swabbed the inside of his elbow with antiseptic. Sam watched carefully as she tied a large rubber band around his upper arm then tapped two fingers in the crook of his arm. John held his breath as the nurse inserted the needle into the swelled vein running through Sam's elbow and found himself holding it longer in surprise when Sam didn't so mach as flinch.

Dark red blood immediately began to feed through the tube towards the awaiting bag. John watched as Sam somberly monitored the crimson liquid's progress and his gut clenched unpleasantly. The sight before him seemed so entirely unnatural. Seven year olds were supposed to be outside twenty-four/seven. Frolicking, laughing, smiling. Carefree. Come to think of it, eleven year olds were supposed to be doing all those things, too. John closed his eyes briefly, mourning the lost possibility of how much better Sam and Dean's childhoods might have been had Mary been alive to help raise them.

Sam finally turned his attention away from the now-fully filled tube and rested his head back against the poor-excuse-for-a-pillow on the table to look at the ceiling. No one said anything for the rest of the procedure. The nurse kept careful check on the slowly-filling bag of blood. Sam remained still, watching the ceiling and John remained standing, watching Sam. The nurse was the one to break the silence finally.

"Alright, darlin'. That'll do it." Sam lifted his head and turned it towards her. The nurse pinched the line shut before carefully extracting the needle from Sam's arm. She cleaned the area again with a square of alcohol-soaked gauze and topped it off with a Grover-themed band-aid she had taken from her pocket. Sam pulled his arm in gingerly. He thumbed the band-aid lightly before wrapping his entire right hand around it and his elbow. He then looked back up at the nurse, the same, sober expression pulling down his young face.

"Can I see Dean before?" Sam asked nurse looked up from sealing the bag on the pole next to the table. Her brow furrowed and she frowned a little before turning puzzled eyes to John. John returned the look before turning back to Sam.

"What do you mean, Sam? 'Before' what?"

It was Sam's turn to look puzzled. He blinked up at his father, his lips pushing out a bit, and his eyebrows scrunching up, looking as if his question held the most obvious explanation in the world.

"Before I die." Sam replied simply. John's face softened immediately and his heart clenched tightly in his chest. The tears that had been threatening all night welled back in his eyes, making his son's determined expression swim before his eyes.

John realized Sam thought that by giving his blood, he would be forfeiting his life in return. He thought that John had asked him to give his life for Dean's...and Sam had agreed. With hardly as much as batting an eye.

"Sammy." John breathed out softly. He moved forward and scooped Sam up into his arms, holding him tight. Quiet tears rolled down John's stubbled face as he affectionately rubbed the tiny back, stroked the back of the tousled hair. "You're not going anywhere, son. Except to see your brother." The little arms curled tighter around his neck. John turned his face against Sam's shoulder, a low laugh rumbling deep in his chest. He couldn't help it. His sons just never seemed to stop amazing him

Continue to epilogue...

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Notes

The story I heard was that a child gave their sibling some blood then went on to ask afterwards when they would die because of it.

I realize that there is a very thick line between what is realistic and what is convenient. After some research, I found that children under 18 can NOT actually give blood, but ya know what?

That's the preacher's fault who I heard this story from, and not mine. Also, it would be insanely bad luck for Dean to have O negative blood AND for a hospital to actually run out of it(and I'm pretty sure it just wouldn't happen), but I was working the "small town clinic" angle and...uh, yeah I'm caught, it was just what happened to work for the story. So screw the technicalities! I wanted to write a story, and I was NOT going to let anything stand in my way! : D

Mean as it may sound, I've never written John when he wasn't being kinda an ass, so this was a new one for me. Hope it worked out alright.

(See ya'll in the epilogue!)