Throwing up again might be a good thing. Since feeling so nauseous was definitely not a good thing.

Sam was crouched next to the car, with his back against the driver's door. He didn't know why he was there, he didn't remember crouching there or even getting out of the car, but there he was.

In the glow of the headlights, Sam could see Dean pacing up and down the dark back road he'd driven them onto, phone pressed to his ear, muttering curses of varying length and intensity. Sam could guess who he was talking to - Bobby - and he could guess the why - panic room.

Famine was far behind them, but not his effects. Sam had the dizziness and nausea and muscle cramps and borderline panic of early withdrawal churning inside of him.

After hearing what Famine said to Dean - that he was dead inside - Sam wished Dean only felt as bad as he did.

To the world, Dean was cocky, bossy, rude, and so very, very self-assured, but Sam had long ago recognized the vulnerability hidden behind the brass and bravado. So he knew that Dean had taken what Famine said to him full to heart because he'd either dismiss it 100% or accept it 100%, and so far - he hadn't dismissed it.

Sam watched Dean pace and thought not for the first time in his life that anything Dean did, he did 110%, even pacing. Love, hate, anger, forgiveness, whiskey, women, music and cars - whatever it was, Dean was all in or not at all.

He knew, Sam knew, that someone as dead as Dean was supposed to be inside wouldn't always immediately take charge of difficult situations and see them through to the end. He wouldn't worry more about other people than he ever worried about himself and be forever willing to risk death to save everyone and anyone he even - impossibly - could.

He sure wouldn't have bought a one hundred pack case of water, or however many bottles were in it, so his addict-brother-in-withdrawal could clean up whenever he threw up on himself.

"Dammit Bobby - I know. We're coming as fast as we can, but Sam's leaving his guts all over the interstate and I'm not gonna push any harder than he can handle."

He wouldn't pace like he was trying to leave footprints in granite.

But Sam wasn't strong enough right now to make Dean see it that way. The best he seemed to be accomplishing was keeping Dean distracted from what Famine had said.

Well, Sam would take what he could get.

Cas stood next to Sam, not saying anything, not looking at Sam, just standing, staring out into the darkness. He was making the flight to Bobby's house with them, Sam wasn't sure why, but he was grateful for him being there, especially when the nausea amped up.

"Cas? D'you think - could you - please -." Sam desperately reached a hand up and Cas took it and pulled Sam to his feet. He stumbled to the far side of the road and collapsed again to his knees, vomiting up another gutful of blood into the grass and leaf litter.

"Hold it, Bobby - wait - I just have to - I'll call you back. Sam?" Dean dropped to his knees at Sam's side, holding his phone out of the way of the projectile blood. "Sam, c'mon, hold on." He put his other hand on Sam's back. "Just - just go with it. Just - get it all out. Let it all - just - come up. C'mon. It'll be over soon. Just - just - " and then words seemed to fail Dean and he positioned himself so that his hip pressed into Sam's side and he kept his hand on Sam's back.

People who were dead inside didn't instinctively give comfort.

Sam wished he could tell Dean that, but the blood kept coming, forced out of his stomach, out his mouth and his nose, down his chin and his neck, soaking into his shirt. Mixed with bile and self-recriminations, it burned like acid and stunk of sulfur, and made him even more nauseous.

"Cas - give it another try." Dean said, he sounded desperate. He wanted Cas to try his 'magic fingers' again. "Maybe when there' s less blood - maybe it'll work when there's less blood in his system."

Dean said that every time the withdrawal tore through Sam's vitals and left him gagging and shaking and all but face down in a slop of blood in whatever ditch they managed to pull off at.

"If you wish." And that was Castiel's answer every time Dean asked him. It never worked. He'd put his hand on Sam's forehead and Sam would feel the warmth and hope simmer in his veins and his soul, and then it would fade and leave more nausea and no hope.

Sam was tired of it.

So when the retching stopped and Cas reached down to start, Sam pulled away. He sat back and tried to stand and fell back to the road. When Dean and Cas moved to help him, he gained his hands and knees, intending to crawl away if he had to.

"Whoa - whoa - stop. STOP IT SAM." Dean moved so fast, he skidded to his knees in the mud and gravel in front of Sam. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"Stop it, Dean. It doesn't work." Sam wanted nothing more than to curl up on the cold, damp road and let unconsciousness take him. But he couldn't. He had to stay alert, he had to stay with Dean. "Don't make Cas keep trying. Please. It only makes it worse."

"Makes it worse? How?" Dean demanded and Sam looked up to see him shooting death glares at Cas, like 'worse' was his fault somehow.

"When he tries it, and it doesn't work, it makes it worse. Just - we need just to get to Bobby's." They'd both be safe, they'd both be okay at Bobby's. They just had to get there together.

"Right- Cas, take him to Bobby's, get him in the panic room." Dean was automatically 110% business. "Stay with him until I get there."

"No." Sam said, but his voice maybe wasn't strong enough because Dean kept talking like he hadn't heard him.

"He shouldn't need the cuffs unless he gets violent or starts getting flung around the room."

"Dean - pleaseā€¦"

"I'll call Bobby and let him know it's you in the cellar or he's liable to empty his whole arsenal down the stairs."

"Dean -."

"As you wish." Cas said, but as he moved forward, Sam pulled away hard, knocking into Dean and scraping his hands on the gravel road trying to keep himself upright.

"Don't! Don't touch me!"

"Sam - what?" Dean had his hands on Sam's shoulders, keeping him in place, keeping him from moving any farther away from Cas.

"Don't send me away." That was all that Sam could manage to say as his brain seemed to tilt and stomach threatened to go with. He wanted to explain to Dean why he needed to stay with him, to protect him, to aggravate him, to distract him, but he only could repeat, "Don't send me away."

"No - no, not send you away. Send you on ahead. Sammy - we'll get you in the panic room, get you nice and safe. I'll be there just after you."

And really, that's what Sam wanted. To be quiet and still, to be able to close his eyes and let the dizziness roll on around him without needing to compensate for it to stay alert. To know as the withdrawal really took hold and he lost all sense of himself that he was safe inside the panic room.

That's what he wanted. What he needed was to know that Dean was safe too.

"You won't be there for hours." Sam said. He realized he still had the blood on his face and he turned his head down so that Dean didn't have to look at it. The movement seemed to tilt his brain back into place and his stomach went quiet.

"Sam - you'll be safe there."

"I won't leave you." There, that was closer to the mark.

Dean sighed and shook his head. His 'why do I get the crazy brother?' gesture. He didn't answer Sam.

"Cas, c'mon. Give me a hand."

Together they got Sam to his feet long enough to get him to the car. At first he leaned back against the bumper, but then he slid down to sitting on the ground again. Chills wracked his body even as heat seemed to pour off his skin. He hated withdrawal.

"Okay. You know the drill." Dean said, crouching down next to him with a bottle of water.

Sam did know the drill. This was what? The fourth time so far they'd been through this? Dean gave him the opened bottle of water and Sam took a mouthful, swished and spit it out again between his feet. Then he took a small swallow and handed the bottle back to Dean who poured water on a paper napkin and gave it to Sam to wipe the blood off his face and neck, then after only a few swipes he took the napkin back and finished the job himself. Then he brushed at the specks of napkin that stuck to Sam's whiskers and used the napkin to blot at the blood on Sam's shirt.

Somebody who was dead inside wouldn't do the cleaning up of his addict brother.

"You're already shaking like a live wire, Sam. You should be at Bobby's now."

Even in the semi-darkness, Sam could see the worry on Dean's face. But that didn't change anything.

"I'm not leaving you alone." .

"I'll be right behind you."

"Hours behind me. Seven hours. I'm not gonna leave you alone that long. Anything could happen to you."

A smile that was half pride, half amusement crossed Dean's face.

"I hate to point this out to you, Sammy, but right now there's not much you can do but throw up on the bad guy."

"I can -." Sam hesitated saying it. It was wrong, he knew it, but when it came to protecting his brother, a strength was a strength and right now he didn't care what Dean thought about it. "Until this blood is all out of me again, I can kill demons."

Dean's face clouded over at that but Sam pushed on.

"I can kill anything - I will kill anything - that tries to hurt you. I won't let anything hurt you, Dean. I won't leave you."

"Sam - c'mon." Dean shifted so that he was sitting on the ground next to Sam, resting against the car. He took each of Sam's hands in turn and used another damp napkin to wipe the mud and bits of gravel off. "You need to be at Bobby's. You need to take care of yourself."

"So do you."

Dean glanced up once, then kept on with cleaning Sam's hands.

"I'm way past that, Sammy."

"Yeah." A sudden chill and spasm made Sam have to choke his words out through clenched teeth. "That's why I'm staying."

Dean looked up and Sam put all his concentration into meeting his eyes with no weakness or hesitation. Because he knew, next would be the arguments, the logic, the orders to do as he was told.

Because right now Dean was 110% into protecting his brother.

And, as much as he could be, Sam was too.

After the stare down, Dean sighed. He was giving in.

"Anybody ever tell you you're a stubborn pain-in-the-ass?"

"Yeah. Whenever they say I'm just like my big brother."

That got Sam The Glare. Then Dean reached an arm around his shoulders for a hard, quick squeeze before he stood up again.

"All right, Cas - give me a hand loading Sasquatch here into the back seat, will you? We gotta get back on the road if we want to get him to Bobby's by morning."

And in another few minutes Sam was tucked into the back seat of the car, propped up against a duffel full of Dean's clothes, with a bottle of water in one hand and a stack of paper napkins in the other, and covered as much as possible with an old wool Army blanket. Cas was in the passenger seat.

Dean turned the car around and they got back on the interstate.

"You okay back there?" He asked Sam after awhile, and Sam glanced up at him.


Somebody who was dead inside wouldn't turn the rearview mirror down to keep an eye on his sick brother resting in the back seat.

Sam promised himself he'd tell Dean that and more before he totally lost himself in the panic room.

The End