A/N: This is kind of a different one, folks. One, it's pre-series (in my mind Sam is 16/17 and Dean is 20/21), which I've never done before and two, the writing style is a tiny bit different. This started out as a 4 a.m. free write that just morphed into something else, so it's not exactly my usual style. But it's close. I hope you enjoy it.

Warnings: Language, drug references, some minimal violence, plot device abuse…that's it. No blood or guts. I know, shocking.


3 Minutes


There's no pain. Or at least, he doesn't think there is. He's not really sure because everything's just a little...off. Maybe a little wrong.

Dean's right there, hovering above him looking ten kinds of terrified, which is one thing that clues him in on things being "off" and "wrong." It takes a lot to break down the walls of Dean Winchester, who doesn't even like to admit that 'emotion' is a word. Sam wonders what it is that has his big brother so scared that he let his defenses drop. He wants to know, wants to ask Dean what his deal is and if he's ok, but he can't get his mouth to work.

He finds it odd but he's not all that concerned about the fact that he can't talk.

But Dean seems to be concerned because he's crying, like full on sobbing with snot dribbling from his nose and with his mouth all twisted. Sam doesn't think he's ever seen Dean cry like that. Hell, he can barely remember the last time Dean cried at all.

It also looks like Dean might be saying something but Sam can't make the words out, not with Dean's face so warped with tears. Not to mention, his vision is a little wonky right now. The edges of everything are blurred and squeezed together. And Dean's movements keep speeding up and then slowing way down, as if someone's holding a fast forward button and then releasing it, just for kicks. It kinda reminds him of that movie Spun that Dean made him watch when they were holed up in a motel, with no cash and nothing but time. That movie is seriously weird. But that's how Dean's moving, with fast, frantic actions followed by slow motion. If Sam didn't know any better, he'd think he took a hit of cocaine or heroin, or whatever the hell it was that they did in that movie. But he does know better, so he lets it go.

Or he tries to let it go. It's kinda hard when your brother's pounding on your chest like it's a bongo drum, still crying, and getting all his snot and tears on your tee shirt. No one can sleep through that, Sam'd put money on it. And he doesn't even have any money.

Then suddenly Sam sees shapes, just blue and black blobs that slither up behind Dean, and wrap themselves around his chest. Dean fights, kicks, screams, claws, tries to wrench out of their grasps, but their holds are relentless. Sam finds himself needing to move, to yell, to do anything to try to help his brother but he can't seem to get himself to function. Control seems so close, yet so far away, like a piece of bait dangling on a string. Taunting, teasing, but untouchable.

Dean's gone and Sam's scared for the first time in this whole ordeal, and he knows it's because he's suddenly alone in it. Darkness is closing in, blackening all the blurry edges and creeping closer to the center. Nothing's above him and it doesn't even feel like anything's below him, but that can't be right, because there's no way he's floating.

Then again, in their line of work, anything's possible and ruling things out based on hunches will get you killed.

Funny thing is, Sam doesn't think that getting killed is going to be much of a problem any more.

Maybe that's why Dean was so upset.

Huh.


7 minutes

It takes Dean seven minutes to drive to the house. In normal circumstances it should've taken at least fifteen, but Dean pushed the Impala hard, riding on the coattails of 90 mph the whole time. Cops be damned. John Winchester be damned. Sam's hurt.

4 minutes

It takes three more minutes to throw the car into park, sprint into the house, and locate Sam. He snarls at all the stranger's hands, silently daring them to come near his kid brother. No one stops him as he hefts Sam up off the couch and carries him outside. He walks a few yards and then lays Sam on the grass, feeling the night chill and dew soak into his jeans as Dean sinks down next to him. Sam is unresponsive, pale, with purple tinged lips, and a lipstick smear on his neck. If the circumstances were different, he'd be a little bit proud of the mark on his little brother's skin. Instead the red, waxy outline fills him with a rage that scares even him, and plots a deep seed of revenge and payment in the back of his mind. No matter how this ends with Sam, it's going to end in blood for someone else.

3 minutes

Sam stops breathing. Dean knows from the phone call he got earlier that the ambulance is already on the way, but Christ it's not going to be fast enough. He can feel it. Behind him, he can feel stares. He can almost guarantee that everyone who was in the house is now on the lawn watching as he breaks down, and yells and pleads the same phrases over and over again.

"Sammy, no! No, Sam, c'mon, breathe, please just breathe. I'm sorry, I'm so damned sorry. Sam, please!"

And he knows he should be breathing for him, should be saving his brother, but he can't. He can't even get enough oxygen in for himself because Sam's dead and it's all Dean's fault, and he just can't take a breath. He thinks it's fitting since Sam can't either. But that doesn't stop the overwhelming guilt from choking him even further, threatening to send him into the ground.

2 minutes

The red lights of the ambulance flash and the sirens wail as the white vehicle pulls straight up into the lawn. Dean doesn't move, fuck them if they think he's leaving Sam's side for one damn second. He might have said that out loud actually because the next thing he knows, two cops are pulling him from Sam's body, saying something to the degree of, "If you want him to live, then let them do their job." Screw that, it's supposed to be Dean's job to make sure Sam lives. Except, it's not anymore. He failed. He knows he failed when the EMT stops chest compressions, and stops breathing for Sam's lungs. Sam's gone.

1 minute

"NO!" the primal scream, followed by the headbutt to the cop's head, are unexpected even though he is the one who does it. He doesn't think, just acts, and the second he's loose from the officer's grip, he's running back to his brother. He crashes to the ground hard enough to rattle his teeth and stain his jeans, but he doesn't take notice. But before he can even get his hands on Sam, he's being pulled up again. Dean battles hard to shake them off. He's struggling like he's being pulled and captured by a wendigo and not humans, but right this second, it all seems the same to him. Evil is evil, and evil is whatever lets Sam die. The cops have him again and he's never been so helpless and desperate in his life. His arms are bruised from twisting in their hands, his chest heaves with exertion, but it doesn't matter because Sam's just right there, but yet so far away. And Dean just wants to get to him.

"Please," Dean whimpers, and he doesn't know if he's pleading for them to release him, or for someone to actually answer one of his prayers and give Sam back. Maybe both.

1

2

3

Clear.

Sam's body thumps under the current, and then stills. Everyone pauses, watches.

"He's back! Let's go..."

Dean doesn't hear anything after that, it's all just white noise.


They get the low down from the Doc after they finally got Sam's vitals stabilized:

Allergic reaction to the drug that they slipped in Sam's drink.
Lucky to be alive.
Have to wait and see if there's any permanent damage.

Then his dad's hand is on his shoulder, heavy and sure, "He's going to be fine, Dean."

Dean wants to believe it but his dad wasn't there when Sam stopped breathing. They say brain damage is almost inevitable after three minutes without oxygen. Sam was dead for three minutes. So DEan just doesn't think he can believe that Sam's going to be ok until he actually sees it.

Then the cops come by. At first, Dean thinks he's about to be arrested for assaulting an officer, but it turns out they're only there to fill in the blanks of the story.

Dean had a vague idea of what happened before he had even gotten to the house, thanks to one of Sam's friends who called him from the party. Dean had just been lounging at home when he got the call.

"Dean? Is this Dean? You need to come to the party, something's happened. I think…I think someone slipped Sam something, he's really sick and he hasn't even finished one drink. Something's wrong."

Dean had been out the door before she could even finish, "something's happened."

So he had a general idea. What he didn't know was that Sam's been having bully problems. Apparently, he got a little too close to one of the jock's girlfriends, and by close, Dean means he helped the girl with her homework. Then he got invited to the party that their dad didn't want him to go to, but Sam was desperate, and Dean convinced John to lighten up and let him go. But it was at the party that the jock – Drew – carried out his revenge with the help of his buddies and one of their girlfriends. Apparently, Sam's not the first person they've done it to; he's just been the first to have an allergic reaction to the Ketamine. Drew put the fear of God in the others, or at least, the others who even knew what happened to them, so until now they've never been caught.

The plan works like this: the girlfriend, Jenny, in this case, distracts Sam by hitting on him, which explains the lipstick mark on his neck. While that's going on (and knowing Sam, he was too busy trying to figure out why Jenny was all over him instead of returning the favor), Drew slips the Ketamine into Sam's drink, and no one's the wiser. Then they wait for the drug to kick in and drive the person out in the middle of nowhere, and leave them there to trip it out. The fact that they didn't actually plan on raping Sam is of little comfort. The only reason Sam didn't get as far as "the middle of nowhere" was because he started having reactions that were obviously not associated with the drug. When that started happening, Drew and Company hit the road, and the rest of the oblivious party was stuck freaking out, and trying to help Sam. That's when Carly called Dean.

The cops leave with a, "Sorry this happened," and "Drew Corrigan is being charged, and not likely to walk." Dean thinks the jury can let Drew walk if they want to, he has his own justice planned.

He watches the cops leave and formulates a plan. He looks at his dad, who's already staring at him knowingly. He waits for the words, the order, to let it go and let the law take care of this one. They don't come.

"I'm going to sit with Sammy. Don't do anything stupid; I'm not bailing you outta jail."

He doesn't want to leave Sam but this is a one time opportunity thing, and he can't let it slide. So he nods and leaves the hospital.


Dean slips into the interrogation room unnoticed. The great thing about small towns and small police stations is that they don't really bother with putting cameras everywhere, including interrogation. Drew is lounging in the chair behind the table, with his back to him. Dean hears him sigh.

"I already told you, I'm not saying shit until my lawyer shows up."

"Good," Dean growls, "Because I don't want to hear any of the shit you have to say."

"What?" Drew asks, turning around and starting to get up.

Dean moves quick and slams him back down in the chair, "Don't. Move."

"The hell? Get off me, man!" Drew half shouts as he tries to twist out from under Dean's hand.

"It'd be in your best interest to shut the hell up," Dean warns and pulls his gun slowly, pressing the muzzle into Drew's side.

Drew's eyes widen as his body tightens immediately in fear, but he nods.

"Good. Now, you roofied my kid brother," Dean starts, watching as Drew's eyes widen even further in realization, "And he died. So now I think that you should die. Makes sense, right? Eye for an eye?"

Drew frantically shakes his head, "They said he survived! He's in the hospital!"

Dean grins, "Maybe that means you'll survive too. Technology now days is amazing."

Then he pulls the trigger but it does nothing but click.

Drew breathes hard, sweat and tears start to slide down his red face, "It's empty."

"Do you know that? There's ten chambers, how do you know they're all empty?"

Pull. Click.

Drew jerks, "C'mon, what do you want? Why are you doing this?"

"I thought I already told you," Dean replies easily, "You get the revenge game, right? That's why you came after Sam. You're the jealous type, he got too close to your girl, so you went out to put him in his place."

Pull. Click.

"Stop, man, it wasn't like that, he wasn't supposed to get hurt," Drew half sobs.

"Tell me what it was supposed to be like then, man."

"He was just supposed to trip. We leave them in a field somewhere and they just freak out for a while, get caught in the K-Hole, you know? Then they're fine. It's just a game!" Drew babbles, wincing as Dean pushes the game further into his ribs.

"Like this is just a game?" Dean asks and pulls the trigger again, listening to the click echo around the room, "What is that now, four? How long do you think it'll be until your luck runs out?"

Drew shakes his head, his shoulder heaving with more tears, "Stop, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I won't do it again, I'm sorry."

Pull. Click.

"Here's what I think, I think that you'd better pray that the jury locks you away for a long, long time, because otherwise, you'll have to look forward to me watching your every step. I will have my eye on you until the day you die, and if you so much as glance my brother's way again or step a toe out of line, I will end you. If Sam wakes up and he's even a little bit damaged, I will end you. Understand me?"

Drew nods jerkily and then breathes a long sigh of relief as Dean slowly backs off.

"Oh yeah, one more thing," Dean says and then reaches out, and slams Drew's face into the table in front of him.


When Dean gets back to the hospital, John is at Sam's bedside.

"Anything?" Dean asks hopefully.

John shakes his head, "Nothing, yet. Sam's a strong kid, he'll pull through." Then he stands up and throws a quick, assessing glance Dean's way, "Problems?"

"No, sir," Dean replies and offers nothing else. John doesn't ask.


Two days later, Sam wakes up.

His dad's asleep in the corner, stretched as far as he can in the hospital chair with his head tipped back against the wall. Dean's in the chair next to the bed, with a hand wrapped around Sam's wrist and his forehead buried in the crook of Sam's arm. After Sam blinks and gets passed the, "What in the hell am I doing in the hospital?" question, he grimaces, feeling how his arm is nothing but pins and needles. He drops his opposite hand on Dean's head. Dean shifts his head a bit but doesn't move.

"Dean," He tries and the coughs, "Dean, you're making my arm fall asleep."

Dean sits up so fast, Sam gets dizzy watching it.

"Sammy?" Dean asks as stands up and presses the nurse call button, all the while keeping one hand firmly on Sam's shoulder, "Dad, Sam's awake!"

Then his attention is all back on Sam, "Sam? How are you feeling?"

Sam frowns, "Confused. And thirsty."

Panic hits Dean like lightning, "Confused like, "I don't remember putting that there" confused or, "I don't know who you are" confused?"

"Huh?"

That's when the doctor comes in. But before the doc can even get a word in, Dean blurts out, "Who was the twenty-seventh president?"

Sam stares at him, a small, knowing smile on his face. They've done this for the past few years. It's a code question that Dean asks every time Sam gets a concussion or some other serious injury, and is trying to see if all of Sam's marbles are in place. "Because you know the whole president's list, right, geek boy? Should be easy for you," that's what Dean had said when he was trying to explain why he always asked a president question when Sam was laid up with a bandage around his head. Sam knows, though. He knows Dean's scared right now, and he's not too sure why, but he knows his brother's sanity is riding on this answer.

"Taft, 1909."

Dean's relief is so apparent that he almost physically deflates, and looks like he might cry. Sam doesn't think that's right though, because Dean never cries.


Between the doctors and his family, Sam finally has the whole story. He even remembers bits and pieces of it. Well, he remembers Jenny attacking his neck, which he thought was weird, then he remembers feeling a little bit off, but everything after that is lights out. Literally, as it turns out.

"That's not funny, Sam," Dean grumbles after Sam says this, "Seriously, man, it was close and I…I just. Christ, don't you ever, EVER, scare the hell out of me like that again. I will kick your ass myself, you hear me?"

Sam's not really bothered by the whole thing. Sure, it's a little freaky that he died and he's really glad that he didn't, but he's not exactly traumatized like Dean seems to be. He thinks that's just because he can't remember any of it. But Dean does, he remembers it all, and from what Sam's gathering, it was not a fun time.

"Yeah, I hear you, promise," Sam finally replies.

"And no more parties, or girls, or beer, or anything like that until you're 25. And the next jock that even looks at you wrong, you tell me, you understand?" Dean continues to rant.

Sam smiles, knowing that Dean's only half serious, "You're an idiot, you know that?"

"I'm serious, Sam."

Suddenly, Sam knows that Dean really is serious, only not about staying celibate until he's 25. He sees what Dean's trying to do and he can't believe he didn't think of it before. Dean takes his job as a big brother more than a little seriously, and in his mind, he really screwed up.

"Hey, this wasn't your fault, man. There's no way you could've known something like this was going to happen," Sam says, "Hell, blame me for getting distracted and letting Drew slip me something."

"Not your fault, Sammy," is all Dean says.

"Not yours either. Did you know that Drew was gunning for me? Did you know that he's a complete psycho with some serious anger issues? Did you have any idea at all that this was going to happen? It was just a fluke, man. I mean, who the hell knew I was allergic to Special K? Or that I'd ever have any reason to know. Seriously, this isn't your fault."

Dean half smiles but it immediately drops, and Sam doesn't think he's ever seen Dean so miserable, "It's not just that. When you were down…when you stopped breathing, I couldn't. I couldn't do CPR. I don't know, I was panicking or something and I couldn't get my head clear, and I couldn't get enough air to do it, and I'm sorry. Sammy, I'm so sorry."

Now Sam gets it. And he knows there's nothing he can say to make Dean feel better about it, but he's sure as hell going to try.

"It's ok, Dean," Sam says as he inches his hand until it's on top of Dean's, "You don't have to say sorry, it's ok."

Dean doesn't respond, but he flips his hand under Sam's so that they're palm to palm, and squeezes. Sam thinks that's as good as it's going to get.