He Ain't Heavy

Dean carries Sam out of the fire, and he's shaking from fear and shock but he knows he can't drop him, would never drop him. Daddy told him to take Sammy and so he does, he takes him, away from the flames and the darkness and the expression he's never seen before on Daddy's face, and Dean decides he's never going to give him back.

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Dean's seen parents walking around with their kids strapped into these things like harnesses with leashes on them and he thinks it's the dumbest thing he's ever seen, because kids aren't pets, and parents should figure out how to control them or not bring them out in public in the first place. Then Dad has a job that takes them to a carnival and Dean thinks maybe those leashes aren't such a bad idea after all. Trying to keep track of an excited, hyper Sammy in that crowd is practically making him hyperventilate, so after he catches his little brother trying to climb up on the stage with the jugglers, Dean scoops him up and carries him on his back. He lets Sammy tug on his ears and hair by way of giving directions with a minimum of complaints, and he makes sure to avoid the clowns.

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When Sammy is seven and he gets the stomach flu and a fever and can barely lift his head without breaking into cold sweats, Dean takes it upon himself to carry him everywhere, from the bed to the couch, even to the bathroom. Three days later and Sam's feeling better, the fever's broken and he's a little hungry, but Dean still snatches him off his feet every time he tries to walk anywhere, and eventually Sam just throws up on the both of them so Dean will set him down. Of course, Dean does so in the bathtub and turns the shower on with them both still in their clothes, and it becomes too much fun for Sam to remember to protest when Dean carries him back to his bed.

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The first time they drink together is the first time Sammy drinks at all. He won't listen to Dean's warnings of when to stop, and Dean's enjoying his brother's goofy grin and infectious giggle way too much to cut him off. Eventually Sam passes out in the middle of a rant about Ernest Hemingway, and Dean thinks of leaving him on the living floor of the rental cabin. After all, he's not exactly the easiest person to lug around anymore now that he's approaching seven billion feet tall, and they've both woken up in worse places. But the fireman's carry isn't so difficult and Dean manages to only bump Sam's head against the banister once on the way up the two flights of stairs that lead to the bedrooms.

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Five weeks before he leaves them, Sam gets thrown into a wall by a poltergeist and the concussion that follows is brutal and serious. Dean carries him into the hospital covered in his blood and doesn't wash it off until he sees Sam open his eyes four hours and seventeen minutes later. They roll out a wheelchair when Sam's released to get him to the car, and Sam bitches about it until Dean offers to throw him over his shoulder again. Sam flips him off and drops into the chair and Dean can't decide if he's lost or won because he was being totally serious.

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The picture was taken outside a Mexican restaurant somewhere in the southwest. Sammy was fourteen, and actually in a good mood. The late afternoon sunlight illuminates his dimples and makes the ends of his too-long hair glow orange. It's not a great picture, Sammy's squinting and awkward and the whole thing is pretty grainy, but Dean carries it with him for almost four years.

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Sammy's grown at Stanford, Dean's sure of it. He looks too big for the Impala, hunched awkwardly in the passenger seat, head against the window and beanpole legs angled toward Dean. He's asleep, finally, after three days searching through every inch of Palo Alto for a clue about his girlfriend's death. He's refused to come back to Dean's motel, refused to really even eat, but it's finally all caught up with him. He passed out ten minutes ago and Dean's damned if he's gonna let Sammy run himself into the ground like this. Sam doesn't wake up during ride to the motel, or even when Dean walks around to his side of the car and opens the door. He twitches a bit in his sleep, no doubt having a nightmare, but the exhaustion has too strong a hold on him and he only ends up pitching sideways into Dean. The weight of him is immense, because no matter how thin he looks there's a lot of muscle packed into that hundred-mile-long frame, and it's even heavier right now with his sleep and grief and dreams. Dean's pretty sure he's going to pull a muscle or two getting Sammy out of the car and into the motel room. But it doesn't matter.

Dean will carry Sam, like always.