Death is as Real as it Gets

Title: Death is as Real as it Gets

Author: supernaturaldh

Characters: Sam and Dean

Rating: PG-13 (Gen)

Word Count: 3634
Disclaimer: Sadly, no ownership here.

Warning: Here'd be angst.

Summary: Dean knows that death is as real as it gets, saving people, hunting things, hell it was his father's life. He's thinking though, maybe; just maybe, it shouldn't be Sam's whole life. Set in Season Two.

Death is as Real as it Gets

Sam pushes his hair back off his face and stares out the passenger window with tired hollow eyes. Another person is dead. He and Dean weren't fast enough this time, didn't get the baddie quick enough. He sighs wearily and chews against his lower lip. He feels guilty. He has to wonders if Dean ever feels the same? But Dean, well he would never admit it anyway, not to himself, and certainly not to Sam.

He watches as his warm breath fogs up the window by his chin. He misses his father. He misses him every single day. He wants to laugh, but knows it's not really funny, it's really, really sad. All the fights, the arguments, the disgruntled words between them, all those times they'd fought about, well, about nothing, and about everything, what a joke. And now, well now, he misses him so badly that it hurts him just to breathe.

He misses Dean too. The brother he had before their father died. The one he leaned on, took care of him, loved him no matter what. But Dean's not there, he's closed off and distant, keeping his thoughts all to himself.

The youngest Winchester understands that his older brother is angry about everything, and he know that everyone deals with grief differently, but Dean, well he just shut down, checks out, hides somewhere deep inside himself and hunts, relentlessly. Dean's a scary hunter on a normal day, but when he's like this, well, it's all Sam can do just to keep up. His brother's pursuit to eliminate evil is wearing them both down, but Dean's too hard headed to see it, too bogged down in his own grief to even really care.

Sam's told him over and over that they need to stop, to take a break, but Dean, he just won't listen.

****

They'd stayed at Bobby Singer's Salvage Yard for three and a half weeks after they'd burned their father's bones. Their dead father, the man who'd sacrificed himself for Dean to live. It made Sam weak to even think about it. And the worst part, the worst part was he was happy, happy that Dean was still alive. What's up with that? He should be sad, his Dad's dead, for God's sake, and yet, he's so happy. Dean is still here with him, didn't die in the hospital bed. It's all just so wrong. He feels bad about it, he really, really does, but he can't help it. Life without their Dad is hard on Dean, but, live without Dean well that's just unimaginable.

He had watched silently as his older worked nonstop to fix his beloved Impala after it was hit by a semi. Then he had cringed as he saw the same big brother take a crow bar and flail the vehicle in a heated fit of rage because he was so mad at Dad. Dad, who had died, died for him.

Sam cringed silently to himself. He remembered his own sadness at the son he never was. He remembered Dean yelling at him, he remembered the ugly words. It's too little too late.

The pain of those words had washed over Sam like a giant wave, drowning him until he couldn't even breathe. He'd walked away from Dean that day, away from words he knew down deep were true. He was a bad son. He loved Dean more than Dad.

He heaves out a weary sigh. He's just exhausted. He can't sleep or eat anymore; he's got a headache twenty-four-seven. He knows he's spiraling out of control, but, he's learned to keep it under wraps, emotions are not something his older brother likes for him to share. He can't whine to Dean - his brother has enough to deal with all the time, with hunting demons and ghosts, and taking care of his pitiful, sorry ass. Every time he shuts his eyes he can see his father's face. He wishes he hadn't picked a fight with him the last time that they spoken, he wishes he'd been a better son -like Dean, but mostly, he wishes his father hadn't died thinking that he hated him, because now, he knew he didn't.

It's too little too late.

So they'd done a hunt for Ellen, some clown thing outside of Medford, Wisconsin that had gotten them out of the salvage yard for a few days. When they'd returned, after Dean's little break down with the crow bar, all his angry words at Sam, well, then, his older brother got a fire under his ass. Nothing Sam could say could've stopped him. His older brother had hastily finished up the Impala, for the second time around, and advised Bobby firmly that they'd be on their merry way.

Dean ordered Sam back into the car, and that was it, they'd been hunting nonstop ever since.

****

Clearing his throat, Sam gazed across the bench seat at his brother, "Are we…are we stopping anytime soon?" He croaked.

Dean's head turned slightly, blood shot eyes peering at his little brother. He frowned, tightened his fingers on the steering wheel, and pushed the gas pedal to the floorboard. "We don't need to stop, got people to save." He hissed. There's your answer dude.

Sam sighed, he guessed not. He leaned his forehead back against the foggy passenger window and stared blankly out at the darkness as it moved swiftly past the car. Watching the world fly by at seventy miles an hour was tiring as hell.

The last hunt had been a bad one. He'd been thrown into a tree. Same story, different tree, he grinned lightly to himself. Dean hadn't noticed. He felt a sharp twinge against his side and he stifled in a breath. Man that hurts. He sucked it up. No matter how much he hurt, no matter how damn tired he was, he would keep his mouth shut. Dean didn't need him to share. Dean didn't need to talk. So Sam wouldn't. He could do that much for Dean.

He curled his long arm around his aching side and blinked back the teardrops that had welled up to his eyes. I'm a bad person because I loved my brother more than my Dad. Crappy son….

****

Some two hours later, somewhere in the middle of the Dakota badlands, Dean's eyes were burning, his body tired and needing sleep. He'd stop at a motel, but they didn't have the time, they needed to keep moving, finish what they're Dad had started, saving people, hunting things. Sides, they were low on cash, and there wasn't anything for miles and miles and miles. He sighed silently. He could find a motel if he had too, but Sam was asleep already, huddled against the front passenger door. Damn kid sucked, he'd been sleeping all damn day. This wasn't the first time that they'd slept out in the car, and hey, it wouldn't be the last.

He pulled the Impala into an old roadside access and shifted into park. He glanced at the concrete brick bathroom building and the dilapidated picnic table, just the kind of places that their father used to park. He smiled as his childhood memories assaulted him. He really missed his Dad. He frowned, then, tugged his coat up tighter against his chilly limbs, and nuzzled deeper into the driver's door. He was drifting slowly toward oblivion when Sam's whiny voice pierced inside his skull.

"Dean? Aren't we…aren't we stopping at a motel?"

"Does this look like a motel?" Dean hissed out, his eyes still tightly closed.

"But Dean…"

"Suck it up whiny ass." Dean spat out tiredly. He was way too exhausted for this shit.

Sam winced at Dean's words.

The older brother never opened up his eyes, and he didn't look at Sam.

****

Sam shifted in the bench seat. He was so damn uncomfortable; his long legs were cramped tightly up against the dash. He'd lie down in the back seat, but Dean had so much crap back there, it'd take him days to clear a path. His back hurt, bad, hitting that tree had really done a number on him. Warm tears welled up in his bloodshot eyes and he blinked them quickly back. Suck it up. He glanced, face hidden by his too long shaggy hair, across the dark car at his older brother. Dean was already fast asleep. He shuffled several more minutes in an attempt to get comfortable, to quell his aching side, and then, he gave up. He moved quietly and opened up the passenger door, slipping silently out in to the night.

He squinted in the darkness at his watch but he couldn't see the time. It was cold out though. His body gave a little shiver, probably sometime around two in the morning. He straightened to his full height, a painful sigh ghosting lightly past his lips. Oh my god, that hurts. He gripped his hand up to press against his badly aching side. His vision momentarily grayed out and he panted through the pain. He felt really weak and shaky as he leaned against the car. Oh shit. He should probably wake Dean up; have his brother take a look.

He glanced back inside the vehicle. Dean was fast asleep.

He couldn't do it; he couldn't wake his older brother up. Since Dad's death, Dean had barely even slept. His big brother needs his rest. They'd both been through a lot. The relentless pursuit of evil, well it was taking a toll on them.

Suck it up Sam. His father's words resounded loudly inside his aching head. God, I do miss Dad.

Moving ever so slowly he slouched down until his butt finally sat firmly on the ground, stretching his long aching legs out in front of him. He could feel the dampness of the grass soaking in against his skin. Probably not the best idea I've had. But it was too late, he couldn't get back up. His body hurt too much. The pain radiated down his side and through his back. He leaned his weary head backwards until it rested against the cooling metal of the Impala. It felt minutely better and he found that he could rest. He shut his tired eyes, body aching and shivering as he drifted off to sleep.

****

The sun was bright in the sky when Dean Winchester stirred. He moved his head slightly, his neck popping loudly with the motion. I hate sleeping in the car. He swallowed. His mouth tasted like something had crawled in it and died. He drifted silently in the fog right before wakefulness, body dozing in the haze.

He vaguely remembered the last hunt, the damn Bear-Hog giving them quite a run for their money. Man, he'd been thrown around some, and his muscles were aching now showing him exactly who was boss.

He let his eyes tug blearily open as he gazed out the front windshield at a concrete building in the weeds. Where the hell did I stop? He looked blearily around. He moved one hand up to rub across his sleep encrusted eyelids. He blew out a weary breath. It was obvious he had parked at a rundown rest area in the middle of freaking nowhere. He remembered stopping at places like this when he was just a child, when Sammy was a baby, and John was always on the move. He yawned and shifted upward in the seat. Something didn't feel quite right, but he couldn't put his finger on exactly what it was. He was too tired, they'd been hunting way too much, maybe Sam was right, may be they really did need a break. Sam?

He turned his head quickly to the side to gaze blankly at the empty passenger seat. No Sam?

He let his eyes dart out the front windshield in a sudden rush of fear, rest stop- bathroom? He relaxed again, his brother must've went to take a leak. He pushed open the driver's door, his body deciding that wasn't such a bad idea himself.

It was chilly out and he zipped up his leather jacket as he stumbled from the car. His body was stiff from too much hunting and not enough rest. He really wanted a large cup of black coffee, bad. Seven Eleven, here we come.

"Hey Sam," the older brother said as he rounded the old brick building to go inside the damp and dirty bathroom. "Gets your lazy ass movin…?" His voice trailed off, no Sam anywhere in sight. His eyes scanned the run down excuse for a men's room. It was filthy, hadn't seen a person in a quite a while, and the smell, well Dean's hand rose up across his nose, holding back a vicious gage. He frowned. Sam must be outside somewhere. He quickly did his business and exited the nasty room.

He gazed around the over grown, weedy, rest area. He's eyes settled on the old concrete picnic table and a thought that made him smile. He and Sam had grown up eating lunch on roadsides just like this, with flies, and ants at picnic tables just like this. He grinned at the one memory of his father, the great John Winchester, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches flashed across his thoughts. 'Peanut butter is cheap', he remembered that his father always said. He smiled at the thought of a sticky face, mop topped, Sammy. He wore more peanut butter than he ate. That thought warmed him heart. Where is my little brother? Sam?

He turned back toward the Impala and yelled his little brother's name, "Sam?"

Sam didn't respond.

He suddenly felt very anxious. Okay, kid, just well the hell are you?

"Sammy!"

He walked a little faster, his body twisting and turning as he took in his surroundings, attempting to figure out where his stupid kid brother had gotten to? It's okay, he's here somewhere.

"Hey….Sam, you better answer…." His voice trailed off, "…me." He spied his long limbed brother leaning against the side of the Impala, chin resting on his chest, eyes closed, and he looked to be asleep. He rolled his eyes. Kid could always fall asleep freaking anywhere. It's awfully chilly out here to be sleeping by the car, he thought to himself. He ambled slowly toward the vehicle.

"Sammy dude, what the hell?" He yelled overly loud as he moved across the rest stop toward his little brother's side. "Get a move on bro, I need some caffeine bad."

Sam didn't stir.

Dean frowned.

He moved closer to Sam. Something didn't seem quite right? Why isn't Sammy waking up?

He didn't like this, not one bit.

The closer he got, the paler Sam looked.

Suddenly, his feet were sprinting beneath him as he ran forward toward the kid. What the hell? He skidded to the ground and slid to his knees next to Sam's prone form, his body banging lightly into Sam's side.

Sam body slumped further downward from the force, listing into Dean's.

"Whoa…whoa…hey, hey, hey…" Dean's hands grabbed at his brother's limbs to keep him from face planting in the dirt.

"Sammy?" Dean whispered as he leaned his still nonresponsive little brother up against his side. With gentle hands he tilted Sam's face upward, his fingers feeling his brother's cold and clammy skin. He cascaded his fingers lightly through the too long messy mop. What is going on here? Is he hurt? Where? When? His mind was racing.

"Sam, hey…"

Sam moaned, his head tilting limply on his neck toward Dean's hand.

"Hey, kiddo, look at me." Dean said anxiously.

Sam's lashes fluttered, his head rolling on his neck as half mast eyelids slipped open, fuzzy hazels staring up at Dean's concerned face.

"Hurts," the little brother whispered almost too low for Dean to hear.

What? Concern washed across Dean's face, "Where's it hurt Sam?" His own eyes taking in his brother's pale and sallow skin. Something was definitely wrong with Sam. "Did you get hurt yesterday?" Damn it all to hell.

Sam's eyes drifted shut.

Dean gave his brother a little shake. "Wake up…damn it…don't you fall back asleep," he demanded.

Sam moaned.

The older brother's fingers ghosted down Sam's body as he leaned him gently to the ground. I should have checked him out before we hit the road. Should've…should've done my job. He chewed on his lower lip. He watched as Sam's face pinched up in pain as his fingers floated down against his little brother's side.

"God damn it Sam, why didn't you say something?"

Dean abruptly lifted up his little brother's shirt, and his breath caught tightly in his throat. Sweet Jesus.

Sam's right side was black and blue, with some green and yellow thrown in for good measure.

"Shit Sam…"

Sam winced at the anger in his older brother's tone. He was a crap son and now he was a crap brother too.

The older brother pressed his hand against Sam's bruised and battered side.

"Sam, I swear to god taking care of you is a full time freaking job." Dean muttered.I cannot believe I didn't check him, what is wrong with me?

Sam's eyes squinted shut and he moaned. His body stiffened, he wasn't sure if it was a reaction to Dean's probing hand or his brothers words that cut through like a knife.

"Easy…easy… it's okay, I don't think anything's broken." The older brother sagged backward on his knees and attempted to rein in his anger at his baby brother. "Sam, you should have said something," he almost hissed.

Sam's heavy eyelids blinked open and he stared blankly up at Dean. "I…you…" He stuttered.

Dean just rolled his eyes. "For God's sake Sam, if you're hurt, you freaking say so." He so wanted to kill his own family sometimes. What in the world was Sam thinking?

"You…you said…we…we didn't need to st...Stop," Sam mumbled as his eyelids felled quietly up with tears. He hastily blinked them back.

Dean cringed. Well, shit, he had said that. Sam had suggested that they stop, in fact, Sam had been asking now for weeks, ever since they'd left Bobby's, ever since their father died. Dean, can we stop, I'm tired Dean. We need to take a break, Dean. Aren't we stopping Dean?

He pulled his fingers through his short cropped hair and stared down at his little brother's pale face. He could kick his freaking ass. Sam is exhausted. He shouldn't yell at Sam, it wasn't his fault. He admonished himself, he should've known. It's my job to know. In all his grieve, he'd forgotten his father's number one important rule – to take care of Sam.

Dean knows that death is as real as it gets, saving people, hunting things, hell it was his father's life. He's thinking though, maybe; just maybe, it shouldn't be Sam's whole life. Dad wouldn't have wanted it this way; he wouldn't have wanted them to grieve and suffer for him. He wouldn't want this for Sam.

He looked down at his little brother. He was John's son too, and although he had a strange way of showing it, deep down Dean knew he loved and missed their Dad. He knew his Dad would've wanted Sam to live, to take time out to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at run down roadside parks.

He smiled at the thought.

Sam moved beneath his arm attempting to push himself up and away from his older brother. "Sorry," the kid mumbled.

Dean frowned and gripped his little brother arm, holding him steady against the sodden ground. "It's okay Sammy." I'm going to make this right.

The little brother's tear filled eyes blinked slowly open and looked wearily at Dean. "So…sorry…" he said again. "I'm …I'm fine." He flailed lightly against Dean's unrelenting hold.

"No Sam," Dean heaved out a tired breath of air. "No, you're not fine."

Suddenly, Dean's arms wrapped around his baby brother "Let me do the work…lean into me."

Sam blinked at him in confusion. He was stunned as firm hands hoisted him upwards from the ground.

Sam grimaced at the motion, but he didn't pull away. He was so tired. He closed his weary eyes; let his body lean into Dean. Dean? Lean into his big brother. He heard the passenger door screech open, felt his brother lower him back inside the car. Momentarily, he felt a warm blanket tucked in across his body, and he smiled sluggishly up at Dean. Is this real?

"Just rest Sammy, I got this." Dean said as he patted his baby brother lightly on the knee.

This is Dean, Sam thought sluggishly. I must be dreaming.

Dean shuffled around the car and slid in behind the wheel, the Impala's engine immediately purring back to life.

Sam's body jostled against the passenger door as he felt the car roll back out on the road. He didn't open up his eyes, though, didn't want to wake up from this dream.

"Next stop, a motel, a warm bed, and peanut butter…." Dean's voice rumbled through the car.

Sam vaguely heard something about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but he was just too tired to care.

THE END!

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