Just to Know You're Alive

AN: It's been 3 years since I posted anything, so I thought I would put this little diddly up. Strangely enough, this was inspired when I looked at somebody and wanted to know how they got a scar.

Remember, reviews are a breath of fresh air to an overly stressed high school student, so please be kind and just drop me a little something. Please?

Summary: While Dean patches up Sam, he discovers some disturbing scars. It looks like Sam's been hiding more than just his powers. Slight limp and Awesome!Sam.

Spoilers: Set sometime after "It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester" but alludes to facts revealed in "I Know What You Did Last Summer."

Disclaimer: This just in: the check has bounced…

And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything seems like the movies
Yeah you bleed just to know you're alive

-"Iris" by Goo Goo Dolls

At first, Dean didn't fully understand what his absence would mean. He just figured that his little brother would continue hunting- with Bobby's help of course. With Bobby around, Sam would be safe and looked out for. Thinking of the two of them together was the only thing that let Dean sleep easy at night for a year.

When he returned from his sabbatical though, he found out that Sam had ditched Bobby only a few weeks into Dean's four month absence. That meant that Sam had been alone, which meant he had higher chances of getting hurt. This knowledge created a rock in the bottom of Dean's stomach. As Bobby continued talking, the rock turned into a boulder when he found out that Bobby hadn't even talked to Sam in months.

All of Dean's fears disappeared though, when he saw Sam. His little brother was alive, walking about, and able to put up one hell of a fight. In fact, it seemed as if Sam had put on even more muscle in his absence. However, Dean could recognize it as Sam's coping technique. Whenever he was away from his family, Sam would work out until his muscles were as defined as possible beneath his many layers of clothing. He had done this while away at Stanford. People were less likely to approach a man with biceps close to those of Arnold's.

After their reunion, the first few weeks after Dean's return were filled with an unabated contentment. The two brothers were back in action. Even though thoughts of demons and angels and the freaking apocalypse were never far from their minds, they just enjoyed being back together.

Then Dean found out about Sam's powers.

Suddenly, things hit a rough patch. Dean realized that his brother had changed. They were complete idiots to think that things wouldn't change even though Dean just spent four months in hell, but they were so blinded by their joy at being together again that they had ignored the elephant that rode in the backseat of the Impala with them.

Finding out about Sam's powers was like a kick in the nads to Dean. Sam wasn't Sammy anymore. He wasn't the tweny-two year old kid who absolutely despised his visions and would do anything to get rid of them. Now, instead of fighting against his contamination, suddenly Sam was embracing them and using them just like another weapon in their arsenal.

Dean didn't want Sam to use the powers because then he would have to accept the fact that Sam had changed. That in Dean's attempt to save Sam, he had actually turned him… no, Sam wasn't evil. He just wasn't Sam anymore.

After the initial shock, Dean came to accept Sam's powers. After all, if not for his mind, an entire town would have been destroyed under the influence of Samhain. So Dean just swallowed Sam's powers with a mighty gulp, and resigned himself to simply keeping an eye on him. Because honestly, Dean was scared Sam was hiding something else from him.

Then one night while patching him up, Dean found more of Sam's secrets.


The wendigo was a nasty son of a bitch that really didn't want to die. After trailing the thing for a few days, the boys finally followed it to its lair and managed to burn the creature to a crisp…Only after it got a good swipe at Sam with its claws.

The drive back was not eventful. Blood didn't get on the interior, Dean wasn't pulled over for speeding and Sam didn't pass out. The cuts across Sam's back had easily clotted by the time the Impala pulled in front of the boys' motel room. The only bad thing was that sitting was as bad for Sam as well, putting salt in the open slices in his back.

After what seemed like eternity, the car pulled in front of room 17 of the Sunshine Chalets. The hotel took their name literally. Sam walked into the room first and didn't even turn the light on, yet he was able to navigate the room simply from the glow the iridescent yellow wallpaper put off.

Sam plopped onto his bed in the dark and was about to flop backwards onto his back before he thought better of it. Instead, he just sat head hanging low, eyes drooping.

Dean entered the room a few moments later after locking up the Impala and flicked on the lights, illuminating the room so that it put off yellow beams of light that seemed to be as bright as the Texas sun. However, in the middle of the brightness was a dark lump called Sam.

"Alright Sam… strip. Let's get you bandaged and then hit the sack."

If he had had the energy, Sam would have mustered up a snarky, "What, you don't take me to dinner first?" Instead, he just obeyed.

His button-down flannel was the easy part. But as he got to the t-shirt he was met with resistance as his back gave a mighty twinge. He thought he had managed to hold back the hiss of pain, but suddenly Dean was there in front of him, helping get the shirt off without too much of a fuss.

Tossing the shredded clothing aside, Dean fetched the first-aid kit while Sam lay down on his stomach across the bed. Every time he got hurt nowadays, it made his chest flutter at the relief that Dean really was back and that he wasn't alone anymore. This was one of the things Sam had missed during those four months- not having to patch himself up. Even when Ruby did it, it just wasn't the same. He just couldn't trust in her as wholly as he did in Dean.

Sam was brought abruptly back to the motel room when he felt a warm hand on his right shoulder blade. "Sam, when did you get this?" Dean's voice wasn't his usual jovial tone anymore.

"Get what?" Sam asked, perturbed that he hadn't been allowed to fall asleep.

"This nasty looking scar… Geez, did you have a blind homeless guy stitch it?" Dean sounded upset, but not exactly angry.

Sam had to rack his brain for a moment before he realized just which scar Dean was talking about. "Bar fight. Ruby stitched it."

"Was she with you during the fight?" Dean was starting to sound angry now.

Sam really didn't want to make him full-fledged angry, but he was so tired he answered anyway. "No. She didn't show up till I was back at the hotel." Sam did manage to leave out the part of how he had tried calling her for nearly an hour before she finally showed.

Dean's temper was flaring even more now. And it really was not helping the headache building behind Sam's eyes. "How'd you manage to get busted during a bar fight? I thought I taught you better than that."

The second part of that statement stung Sam more than Dean could have known. Dean's dying words to him had been to remember his lessons, and here Sam was, failing them. He was so ashamed of himself that he mumbled into the pillow, "Iwasdrunk."

"Wanna try English this time?"

After heaving a big sigh, Sam answered clearly, "I was drunk. There were three of them and a busted beer bottle. Things didn't work out to my favor until the cops showed up."

Sam was expecting his brother to give him a severe tongue-lashing for screwing up so royally, but the only response for several moments was the swipe of alcohol against Sam's wounds.

All was quiet in the motel room until Dean placed his hand behind Sam's right ear. Before Dean could even open his mouth to ask, Sam answered, "A demon threw a pewter vase at my head. No stitches, just a nasty concussion."

Dean couldn't resist the urge to ask, "Why didn't you use your… 'powers'?"

Another sigh. "Because this was only three weeks after I started using them. I didn't trust myself enough to use them."

So Sam did show some reluctance. At least Dean could take some relief in that. Instead of being troubled by his brother's new weapon of choice, Dean was now worried about how many other injuries Sam had sustained during his absence.

He finished taping the pieces of gauze across Sam's wounds and stood up. "Alright Sam, you're back in one piece. I'll grab you some painkillers then you can pass out for the night. And I don't want to see you awake for the next nine hours."

Sam couldn't help but agree that sleep sounded wonderful right now. It seemed like they had been hunting non-stop for weeks and all he wanted to do was fall into the abyss. But the abyss would have to wait until he got his jeans off.

Den had left the room to hunt down this week's bottle of painkillers, so Sam took advantage of the privacy to strip off his severely grass-stained and muddy pants. The task sounded easier than it was to actually execute due to the fact that he had to stand up first. With lying in the same spot for so long, his muscles had frozen up, and trying to move them now felt like he was dragging a knife through his body. But he needed to get his pants off and under the sheets before Dean saw his bare legs. Somehow, he ended up gritting his teeth against the onslaught of pain and ended up standing even if he didn't remember how it happened.

Knowing the hard part was over, Sam quickly undid his belt and fly, letting the denim fall down around his ankles. From there he sat back down on the bed, and started untangling the pants from around his ungodly large feet.

"What the hell?" Dean's voice shocked Sam out of his task. He looked up to see his brother staring down at his left thigh, which was now uncovered. So much for his attempts at secrecy.

Dean set the glass and pill bottle on the nightstand before sitting on Sam's left side to study the scar. "Sam, when the hell did you get this?"

"Three months after you died. Was burning a corpse in an old farmhouse and didn't realize how close the propane tank was. They were some pretty good fireworks, but the glass windows didn't last long. A chunk wound up jammed in my leg pretty good." Sam tried to feign disinterest not wanting to upset Dean, but his brother was too hooked now.

"You didn't take care of that yourself did you?" Dean was almost afraid to know.

Sam couldn't even look in Dean's general direction when he filled in with the rest of the story. "The glass was in too deep so I had to go to the hospital. I didn't want the cops to find out about the explosion, so I drove to the hospital the next town over. Had to have surgery to remove it. After twenty-two stitches, a pint of blood and two days in the hospital, they said I was as good as new… or the same as I was before having a six-inch long piece of glass in me."

Dean could see right through the façade that Sam was trying to put on. Sam may have been telling the truth, but it was grossly understated. The town Sam had driven to hadn't been the next one over, at the very least, it was probably the next state over. And he probably did spend two days in the hospital, but he was probably unconscious for it all, and the doctor wanted him to stay for a week…

It was at times like these that Dean couldn't help but notice the striking similarities between Sam and their father. Both of them held the misconceived idea that they had to be tough, that they couldn't let themselves rest for a minute because they had a job to do. They would rather kill themselves than have a day to rest and take care of themselves if it meant other might get hurt.

Looking back, Dean realized that this was the same side of Sam that had surfaced after Jessica died. Sam had been driven, determined to keep himself busy and to unleash his wrath on the world and wouldn't have stopped if not for Dean…

If not for Dean.

This time, it was because of Dean that had pushed Sam to become wrapped in the hunt. And nobody was there to make sure Sam took care of himself. And if Sam went too far, nobody was there to take up for him when he collapsed.

When Sam was left alone, it was like having the blankets ripped off of him in the night, leaving him vulnerable and disoriented. Dean had forever been there, had been ubiquitous in Sam's life from the beginning. Even when he was at Sanford, Dean had always been only a phone call away.

But in hell, they had no phones.

Which meant that Sam had to fend for himself. Fight to keep himself alive, care for himself when he almost failed. Like when he had to drive himself to the hospital with a chunk of glass in his leg.

Dean had always figured that Sam would have to patch himself up sometimes. In previous years he'd had to do it when Dean had passed out from his own injuries. During their last year together, Dean had started making Sam practice more. He would sit beside him and watch as Sam struggled against the pain and the emotion welling up within him. The last two months though, Dean had taken up the job again, relishing in these last few moments with his brother.

It might have been naïve of him, but Dean had never believed that his brother would be injured that badly. He didn't really think about the fact that Sam could get hurt in places that he couldn't fix himself. Or that he would be injured so seriously. It made him feel like a failure.

However, Dean was back now. And he wouldn't be failing again anytime soon… or so he hoped.

Beside him, Sam's face was pinched tight in pain. Dean realized he had been so engrossed in Sam's scar that he had forgotten all about giving Sam the pain medication he had brought out. Kicking himself, he stood up and grabbed the glass and pills and handed them over to his brother, who eagerly swallowed them.

Sam bent over to finish pulling his pants off before lying down on his side. Wincing every once in a while, Sam eventually drifted off to sleep.

After a while, Dean got up and took a quick shower to wash off the mud that had managed to squeeze into some awkward places. Coming back into the room, Sam was still sound asleep, and would probably remain that way for the next eight hours. Deciding to follow his brother into sleep, Dean settled himself between the sheets of his bed.

Unfortunately, sleep didn't come easily to him. All he could think about was how his brother had changed. How they had changed. Sam was no longer the little brother who needed saved. Now, he was the man that could drive himself to the emergency room with a six-inch piece of glass jammed in his leg.

Maybe Dean's protection skills weren't going to be needed as much anymore. Instead of two brothers driving the roads of the country protecting each other, perhaps they would now be two individuals looking out for themselves and only enjoying one another's company.

It was a depressing thought, but that seemed to be the only kind of thinking he'd been doing lately.

Desperately hoping that things would eventually return to their old ways, Dean closed his eyes and tried his hardest to overcome the images of his brother rescuing himself time after time.

Soon, though, the room was filled with the soft steady breathing of two reunited brothers resting their weary bodies after another exhausting hunt.

The end…

I admit, I know nothing of medical things, so don't sue me if things seemed wrong.

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