So, just to remind you, this is set between 5.01 and 5.02, and we all know what happened at the end of 5.02, right?

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Chapter 4

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Dean jolted awake.

The sound of furniture against wall, falling objects and close confined chaos in the dark.

He swung around and snapped on the bedside lamp only to see Sam trying to climb up onto his night stand. All arms and legs. Like a startled colt. He blinked hard at the sight.

"Sam ! "

Sam wasn't listening. He wasn't seeing either, even although the light was now on. CRACK! The night stand broke away from the wall, wood splintering, plaster flying, Sam stumbling over it, searching...searching for something.

Dean got up and slid over Sam's bed to reach him.

"Whoa, whoa, Sam..." He pulled at Sam's good shoulder, only to have him fall back onto Dean – hands clutching at air. Reaching. Searching.

"Sam, hey...wake up, wake up, man." Dean pulled him closer, catching his right hand and clamping it to his chest.

He suddenly calmed. Eyes blinking. He looked up at the wall with the gaping hole where the night stand used to be. Dean looked down at him.

"You hear me now?"

Sam stilled. His heart beating a veritable drum chorus under Dean's hand.

"The bathroom...I thought I was..." He trailed off, frowning at the wall in front of them.

Dean moved to sit him up. "The bathroom's behind you." Sam licked his lips, his face drawn and grey. A sweat slick down the front of his tee shirt. Dean's hand resting on a clammy neck.

"They're infected, huh?" Sam murmured , looking at the dressings on his right shoulder.

"Yup." Dean sighed. He stood up and offered his hand. Sam looked at it, as if contemplating the gesture. He took it and gently stood up and stumbled towards the bathroom. Dean looked down at the crazed mix of wood and plaster board, glass and lampshade.

"That's one deposit we ain't getting back," Dean grumbled to himself. Rain battered hard onto the door and window, the thought of cold night making him shiver. He pulled a hand down his face and wandered back over to his own bed, the sound of running tap water barely audible above the weather.

He'd pulled several little bits of shrapnel out of Sam's neck, but there were two, three wounds on his shoulder that just came up empty. By the time he'd gotten Sam onto the bed, the muscle had already swollen, the skin hot and dry. Run down and vulnerable, he was a natch for infection – and here it was.

The bathroom door pulled open and Sam promptly fell back onto it, arms flopping, head cracking against the door frame. Dean grimaced and strode over towards him.

"Damn it!" Sam hissed, his eyes scrunching with the pain.

"Dude," Dean returned softly. Another hand offered.

Sam's chest rose with a fortifying breath. Instead, he moved forward, on hands and knees towards his bed. Dean let him go, the hand switching uselessly in the air. He turned off the bathroom light and let the weak bed side lamp remain while Sam settled on his bed.

Dean picked up the Tylenol, and Sam watched him grab a bottle of water by his bed.

"What about those antibiotics we had left over from Wisconsin?" he asked. Dean sat on the edge of his bed to offer two tablets and the bottle.

"You threw 'em out."

Sam frowned. "Did not."

"Can't find them, then." Dean stared down at the floor for a beat. "Unless they're in the car."

"Doesn't matter." Sam raised his voice above the din of the rain. He flicked back his head squeezing the plastic bottle into his mouth.

"I can go get them," Dean didn't hesitate.

"No, man. I'm fine," Sam sighed. "Go back to bed. Seriously."

*

Four hours later.

*

Dean gritted his teeth and forced the key into the impala. Rain bounced off the car roof. Down his face. Dripping off his chin.

Rigors. He hated rigors.

Sharp memories of six year old Sam trembling against him under the devastating shadow of some viral infection, and no Dad in sight for another night at least. A night to remember. There was no secret stash of antibiotics for them then. Now, at least there was a chance he could find them.

He pulled at the lump of blankets, waterproofs and sacks of goofer dust, imagining the white box being underneath them. He'd seen it somewhere. His jacket stuck to his back, sodden already. He snapped on a flashlight and dug deeper, hand scrabbling amongst the grit and metal of the trunk floor.

Nothing.

He'd dozed in the pale light, his head turning towards his brother's every movement. Sam's skin shone with perspiration and the tee shirt sucked it up. He'd throw the covers off, then, after a few minutes, he'd haul them up to his chin again. Dean sat up to get out of bed, only to have Sam order him back down. Insistent.

He'd pretended he needed the bathroom, and Sam had settled slightly on his return.

He'd intended to stay awake but the sudden stillness was what woke him eventually. A gentle hand to Sam's face proved his temperature had rocketed and Dean had tried to waken him. Feeble hands had pushed him off, Sam's mouth opening but no sound coming out.

"Drink...drink some..." Dean had commanded, pressing the bottle against his lips and clasping Sam's neck enough to lift his head.

"No, Ruby..." Sam had rasped. "I'm not...I can't..."

Dean froze. The words cutting into him. Bringing it all back again. The pained frown on Sam's face told him he was in another place. Another time. Was this how it went when Ruby had first introduced him to her blood? Did she force him when he was sick? He poured the water anyway, little trickles down each side of his mouth. Sam had half swallowed, half choked.

He grabbed the little box and pulled the trunk down with a satisfying boom. Back in the motel, Sam's bed was empty. Dean's eyes flicked around the room. On the floor, sitting against the wall, Sam held one arm over his head while his entire body shook with alarming energy. Little breaths exiting his dry mouth. Dean shrugged off his wet jacket and stepped out of his boots.

"Bingo, Sam..." he sat down beside his brother, the heat radiating off his legs which leaned into Dean's. Dean popped the tablets out of the foil strip. "Come on, man...gotta get 'em down. "

Sam glanced at the capsule in Dean's hand. " Fucking Backhouse boys," he whispered.

Dean nodded, his hand curling around the bottle to unscrew the top. Sam clumsily swiped it from his hand, and chased it with a gulp of water. Head back. Eyes closed.

"This hurts, Dean."

Dean pressed his head back against the wall too.

"The meds will beat it."

Sam shook his head. "That's not what I mean," he said gently. "The guilt. What I've done..."

Dean turned his head away. He remembered guilt. Every day since the memories of his time downstairs.

Another round of rigors wracked Sam's body and he pulled his knees up to combat them.

"I know...I know you don't want to hear this, but...how did you do it...how did you make it out of bed every day?"

Dean considered the question. The good days, and the bad days. They'd all paled into insignificance when he'd discovered Sam had been drinking demon blood to boost his powers. When Sam had refused to go with him to kill Lilith unless Ruby was with him. That hurt had replaced all the jagged pain and guilt he'd felt after coming back from hell. Didn't matter how bad it was, there will always be something worse to beat it. Hardly a confidence booster to pass onto your little brother, now was it?

It was, however, a valid question. What did make him get out of bed every day?

It was usually Sam.

"Sometimes, I think I can do it. You know...live with it. Through it. Try to fix things with us." Sam said. A sideways glance at his big brother. "And then, some fucktard comes along and...knows all about me, and I realise I'm never going to get away from what I've done. "

Dean frowned. Sam's emo gradient always peaked when he was sick. But his train of thought was still coherent, only it was too damn early in the morning for heart to hearts and talk of 'fixing things.' It was just too overwhelming at this Godless hour.

Sleep. Sam needed to sleep. Things would be different in the morning. Of course, tomorrow could be the day Sam decided to leave. Because, he would...Dean knew it. If the guilt didn't make him go, then the blood addiction would. Sometimes in his mind, Dean could even see him walking away.

He shook his head away from the wall.

"Sam. Go to bed." Gently. Not an order.

He stood up and offered a hand to his brother, his pinched features making him look young and vulnerable again. A vision of his past. A firm grasp and he pulled himself up.

An unsteady gate towards his bed, and a final stumble onto the mattress. Dean pulled the discarded blanket from the floor up onto his brother's legs and spread it out, silently.

As darkness enveloped them once again, Dean lay still in the dark knowing that the life they had experienced together would soon be gone.

And he'd deal with that...in the morning.

*

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The End