He feels the pain stabbing in his stomach and the warmth of his blood seeping through his fingers.
He manages to get the key in the lock and into the room without anyone noticing that he is bleeding out. His stomach is on fire and his head feels fuzzy as if his brain is seeping out of his ears. The bed is soft, oh so soft, and he lays on it with a sigh wanting only to sleep. In the back of his mind something tells him to sleep would be wrong, to sleep would be foolish. If he sleeps he might not wake again.
Funny enough – he doesn't care.
He comes to with a start. His mouth is dry and he doesn't know where he is.
"Stomach wound," he hears someone say and he tries to turn his head. The pain is so intense he just wants the darkness again and he puts his hand to his stomach and groans out one word, desperate and harsh.
When he wakes again he feels better, the pain down to a dull ache. His traitorous hand flutters down to his stomach and he feels it, bound like a mummy's under his hospital gown.
"Don't touch it," his brother's voice, harsh but worried and he thinks he is hallucinating, knowing that what he hears must be wrong.
He walked out on Dean months ago – how can he be here?
"Found my name on your cell,"
The hallucination is reading his mind.
"Never deleted it huh?" A gentle hand strokes across his hair and, although he knows this isn't real, he leans into it anyway. "What have you been up to Sammy?"
"Shot," Maybe it was the drugs but he felt like laughing, hysteria hovering at the edges of his confused mind, "gut shot."
"Sammy," the hallucination sounded concerned and he laughed again, grasping at the hallucination's shirt which, to his surprise, felt like cotton rather than air.
"Hustling pool – couldn't get a job – being a hunter isn't exactly a career choice – needed money."
"You let them get the drop on you Sam?" The hallucination sounded miserable then and he tried to move his head, pain rolling through him, tears spilling weakly through his lashes.
"Didn't try too hard," his throat hurt and he wanted to escape into the dark again, wanted to escape to his tiny, little world of denial.
"You – you gave up fighting?" the voice above him sounded thick with something and he closed his eyes then, trying to turn his head into the pillow, not wanting to see – or not see – the hallucination any longer.
"Dean," he said, as he floated away, high on pain and drugs, "nothing to fight for."
And then he is gone again and he hopes, when he wakes, the hallucination will be gone too.
Water, cold and refreshing, poured into his hot, dry mouth; A hand, soft and gentle, stroking across his forehead; A voice, low and encouraging, telling him to wake.
Lids so heavy he can barely lift them but he tries and there is Dean, real and whole, standing over him.
"Feeling better?" Dean touches his cheek, "want to wake up and talk to me now?"
"No," he feels so helpless, doesn't trust himself to speak, "I – we – we are – I left you Dean," tears again and he tries to turn away but Dean holds his head, stares at him and rubs his finger down damp cheeks, "you let me go."
"It was for the best Sammy," Dean swallows, his Adam's apple goes up and down and he buries his head in his free hand, the other continuing to stroke over and over again.
"You are here now," he is crying, no longer trying to hide it, "you are here now," he stated again.
"Yeah – do you think I would ignore a call that told me you were in ICU – that you were dying."
"Dying?" Sam shakes his head, he is ok, just gut shot – just a bullet in the stomach that he was too drunk, too stupid, to duck away from.
"Yeah Sam – dying." Dean is pale, freckles standing out on his face. He looks angry – really pissed and Sam grabs his hand, holding on.
"I'm sorry," he says, finally, throat choked with tears and pain, "I'm so sorry."
"Yeah," Dean smiles then and sits on the bed, he lets Sam keep his fingers wrapped in his shirt sleeve and he pats his head briefly, "like you say – I'm here now – and I'm not going anywhere – ok?"
"I'm sorry," Sam sounds small, pathetic, that chubby twelve year old who worshiped his big brother, "for everything."
"I seem to be hearing sorry a lot recently," Dean stated, blandly, "and I know you are Sam – and I know you can't take any of it back even though you want to."
"Are you leaving again?" Sam doesn't really want to know, "when I'm – you know – better?"
"I seem to recall that it was you that left last time," Dean's eyes were bright, "and this – nothing has changed Sam – nothing – apart from the fact that I would rather have you as you are than – than not at all."
"An addict? Hyped up on demon blood and – and still wanting more," Sam swallowed, the pain in his stomach nothing to do with his wound, "you want me like that?"
"I'll take you any way I can Sammy," Dean was no longer touching him – chick flick over – but his eyes were warm and there was something there that Sam had not seen for a long, long time.
"Really?" Sam let his hands trail down over his stomach, the pain gone now, only a tingle of expectation deep within, "you want me back?"
"Obviously can't be trusted on your own Sam," Dean stood up and stretched, casual and easy.
Sam laughed then and he realised it had been so long since he had felt the sensation that he hardly recognised it, his body warm with it, a sudden longing to ride shotgun again, to listen to the pounding of Metallica, to put his head out of the window and let the wind take his breath away.
"Are we ok now?" He asked then, still needing to be reassured.
"We will be," Dean answered and it was enough.