Fears & Dreams

Chapter Fourteen

A/N: I want to thank everyone who has read Fears & Dreams, who have marked it as a Favorite, and of course those who had reviewed it. All of your wonderful comments mean so much to me. They kept me going when a Chapter might be going wrong or too slow. I certainly apologize for taking so long to finish this one but it grew longer than I had planned. Thanks again and as always, stay tuned for new stories since I have about three planned and a 1-shot that someone asked to see out of this one.


"Stubborn, mule headed, impatient, reckless…idjits! Both of ya are just buckin' to either drive me to the looney bin or make me blow my damn brains out worryin' over ya!"

Bobby Singer's disgruntled and exasperated voice is the first thing that drove past the jackhammers already running rampant in Dean Winchester's brain when consciousness slowly began to return to him. He just hoped someone got the number of the Wendigo that ran him over.

"What's with you and your brother running out into the damn snow and cold with barely anything on?" Bobby was demanding, making noise as he was clearly moving around…

Dean wasn't sure where Bobby was since he honestly wasn't sure where he was and his body ached too much to move to find out right then. He was content to just stay still, listen to Bobby gripe at whoever he was griping at and wonder who the hell beat the crap outta him when another voice intruded in his pounding head. A voice that instantly made Dean pay attention.

"I was kind of in a hurry, Bobby. Dean was about to get shot so putting on a jacket wasn't high on my list of things to do."

"I would've been happy with a damn shirt and jeans, ya idjit!" Bobby shouted back, making a noise like he was messing with the fireplace following his words. "Sam, sit down before ya fall down or I knock you down!"

Sam. His brother's voice forced Dean back to full alertness even if his body just wanted to stay where it was. Memories were coming back now and he needed to wake up.

"You and Rufus were in la-la land so what was I supposed to do? Just let…him blow my brother's brains out?" Sam seemed to falter at saying Samuel's name but he stayed where he'd been standing since waking up.

"Don't you give me lip, boy," Bobby growled, turning to glare at a smirking Rufus. "Don't you go agreeing with him! Dean, you gonna open your eyes or just lie there like a bump on a log?"

Groaning when the loudness seemed to echo more, Dean went to cover his head with an arm only to have his right shoulder explode in agony. "God…what size was the Wendigo that tossed me this time?" he muttered, surprised when his voice was barely a croak but blinked when a bottle of water was shoved into his good hand.

Taking a long drink of cold water made him able to swallow and slowly he came to see that he was on the sofa in the main living room instead of the sofa seat in the library where Bobby usually tossed them. Looking down, he noticed that his button down shirt was missing and the T-shirt had been changed to allow for new dressing on his shoulder and…

His side had new stitches which must have been to close up the small wound he'd gotten from the sharp piece of metal…green eyes shot up suddenly to look squarely at Bobby. "What happened?" he demanded lowly, trying to shift on the couch but found a strong hand easily keeping him still.

"I need new wards or crap around my place is what happened," Bobby growled in disgust, taking a look at the older boy to see that his eyes were clear even if he seemed a little disoriented still. "Somehow Samuel got past my protective wards to get close to you and that damn demon or something cast a spell to knock me and Rufus out."

Slowly Dean remembered the attack, the drugged dart, and getting knocked into a pile of junk. He also remembered something else and it was that memory he struggled to lock onto. "Sam? Bobby where's Sam?" he asked rapidly, struggling to sit up fully when another hand touched his shoulder this time and he jerked his head around to meet cautious hazel eyes that he knew well. "Sammy."

"Hey, Dean," Sam had been staying close to the couch since he woke up, only leaving his brother's side long enough to go take a hot shower and dress before Bobby took a frying pan to his head as he'd threatened.

"Sam, I'm tellin' ya to sit down now!" Bobby snapped, seeing that both brothers still looked half exhausted and he wasn't certain how Sam was anyway since the boy had refused to let himself be looked at while Dean was still unconscious. "I'm not haulin' your butt around anymore this week so if you fall flat on your face again you're on your own!"

Rufus, who was smart enough to steer clear of Bobby in his hyper-protective mode, covered his smirk with a hand but made some comment behind it that had his friend whirling to glare at him. "I'm just saying that you would've made a great nurse, Bobby."

Shuddering at that image, Dean was finally able to sit up on the couch but was quick to grab his brother's wrist before it could retreat. He tugged the younger man around until he was sitting on the other end and he noticed that Sam's body language was off.

Eyeing Bobby from the corner of his eye, the silent questions didn't go unnoticed when all the older man did was shake his head that he wasn't certain.

"Alright, I'm gonna go fix both of you something hot so stay put, keep those blankets on and if I even see one of ya moving toward that front door I'm siccin' the damn mutt on ya!" Bobby growled, giving both Winchesters a warning glare that used to work when they'd been boys.

"Bobby, that damn dog took off yipin' from a spider," Rufus reminded helpfully, yelping when he was yanked out of the living room.

Dean waited until he was certain they were alone before shifting so he could look more closely at his brother and noticed more than a few things.

The first thing he noticed was that Sam had once again taken to wearing that one hoodie that had always been too big on him but it was the he seemed to gravitate to when either sick or scared. Now he was bundled into that along with what seemed to be Dean's oldest button down shirt and he had Dean's leather's jacket bunched in his hands as he sat nearly curled into the opposite end of the sofa.

All of that worried Dean but what tripled his concern was the way his brother's hands were shifting restlessly on the leather but the one kept going into a pocket of the jacket and Dean would've bet money that his amulet was in the pocket.

"You okay, Sammy?" he finally asked, uncertain what the answer would be since when he'd last seen his little brother awake his mental state had been so solid but going by the way he argued with Bobby, Dean was assuming something had changed in that area. "Sam, look at me."

Not moving from where he'd drawn himself up on the sofa, Sam kept his eyes averted. "I'm sorry."

Not certain he'd heard the whispered words correctly, Dean frowned but made himself stay still. No matter how much he wanted to reach out right then he knew that he needed to gauge Sam's emotions to see what ground they were on before he touched him. "Sorry for what, Sammy?" he asked, wincing as he tried to move a little more.

Since waking up fully, Sam's memories had returned had mach 4 speed and had nearly overwhelmed him more than once. Only his concern for his brother had kept him from withdrawing into a shell again but he knew it was only a matter of time before he either crashed and burned or he gave in to the stronger urge to tell Dean everything.

Keeping his eyes locked on his hands while trying to forget the sight of his grandfather's blood on them, Sam just shoved the leather jacket toward his startled older brother. "Your…amulet…it's in the pocket," he told him, adding in a near mumble. "I…I don't deserve to have either."

"Alright, wanna tell me what's brought this on?" Dean questioned curiously, leaving the jacket between them but he did put the amulet back around his neck and was relieved to feel it back where it belonged. "Sammy, look at me," he said it firmer this time, not liking the way his brother was avoiding his gaze. "Sam."

"I got you hurt. I got Bobby shot. I…they…I…" Sam faltered suddenly, memories coming in waves as he pulled his legs up on the sofa. "All because Mom died in my nursery. It's not enough that Angels and Demons want us dead but our own so-called family…and I can't stop the damn memories this time and…"

It was the shaking in his brother's voice that warned Dean that they were on cracked ice. "Is that what you were told in that place?" he asked, moving slowly so that he was closer but not close enough that his brother would feel trapped. "Sammy, you didn't cause this. Hell, if anyone's to blame this time it's me because Samuel blamed me. You were just an easy way to strike out at me," he tried to explain but knowing his brother, Dean figured it would take more than simple words to convince him. "How bad hurt are you?"

"I'm…fine," came the automatic reply even as he was pulling his injured hand closer to his body but soon Sam was pushing off the sofa to begin to pace restlessly, a sure sign that something else was bothering him. "You're hurt."

"What?" Dean scoffed, waving that away with a normal smirk. "You mean my shoulder? Hell, I got worse from those damn rednecks…and I really need to talk to you about that one day, but I'm fine from this," he reassured him. "I've gotten worse than this from…" he cut himself off but knew it was too late when he saw Sam go rigid. "Sammy, don't."

"I asked you why you stayed." Sam's voice was quiet when he spoke, keeping his back to Dean as he stared out the window. "I knew it was an image. That it wasn't you but I still asked why the hell you stayed. Why didn't you leave after he beat the crap outta you because I'd run away and do you want to know what that version of you said, Dean?"

Taking a deep breath, Dean was slow to let it out but when he did, it was filled with resignation. Accepting that to help his brother this time would mean facing some things that he would rather have stayed buried. "I can guess," he admitted slowly, standing fully but not approaching his brother yet.

"He said he stayed for me," Sam's voice was tight with suppressed emotion but the way his fists were clenched gave away his anxiety. "I watched as a version of Dad tossed him around that motel room like a cheap dishrag, slamming him through doors, against the walls and…" he stopped to finally turn to look straight at his brother with wide and wet puppy dog style hazel eyes. "Is that what happened, Dean?" he asked. "Did Dad do all that to you just cause I'd run away?"

Swearing under his breath, it was Dean's turn to avoid his brother's searching gaze as he fought for time to come up with an answer. He's known by the way Sam had been acting since he'd found him again, that more than likely Michael had either told or shown his brother things that Dean did not want him to know. That was one thing. Knowing that Sam had actually seen the damn event in living Technicolor was something else.

"Sammy…" he tried to shrug it off, wave it away as he'd always done but this time his brother wasn't having it.

"Tell me the goddamn truth!" Sam snapped, voice breaking in a way that had always tore Dean's walls to shreds. "Is that why after Dad brought me back you wouldn't look at me? Why you avoided me, why you slept on the couch the first few nights I was back, why you wouldn't come out of the bathroom after a shower until I was already in bed and why, for two damn weeks, you wouldn't let me touch you?" he demanded. "Is it, Dean? Is that really what happened between you and Dad?"

"Yes," Dean finally replied, hearing the sharp breath and wanting to cut off the inevitable questions. "I'd exhausted all my leads or so I thought. Caleb was due in the next day to help me look for you but Dad…he came home early for once and to say he was pissed was an understatement but…" he stopped for a moment to recall the fury in his father's eyes that day. "I figure I know what you were shown and what good ole Michael told you but I need you to know that I never blamed you for it, Sam. I screwed up when I let you give me the slip and I paid for it. I would have gladly let him do it again so long as I knew you were safe so yeah, when that version said he stayed for you, he meant it cause that is why I stayed."

Something about Sam's posture sent a warning through Dean. He'd grown up watching his brother's every move so he'd learned every tell sign in how he stood, how he moved or shifted when upset, sick, afraid, or hiding. He was seeing several of those right now and because of the topic they were on, he didn't like it.

"Sam? There something you want to tell me?" he questioned, keeping his tone light. "I mean, besides everything else that's been going on, is there something else?"

Recalling the words of the other 'Dean', Sam scuffed the toe of his shoe on the worn carpet much like he had done as a kid when avoiding his brother. "He said…he said I had to tell you," he mumbled which again reminded Dean that he seriously needed to break his brother of that habit again. "But it's been so long and you'll just get angry that it's not…"

"Tell me what, Sammy?" this time Dean did step closer but still didn't touch the younger man. Instead he just stepped closer to his side to see that Sam's eyes were closed but there was glistening tears on his cheeks. "Sam?"

"Dad…he…I didn't get off without any punishment for running away, Dean," he replied after a few moments of silence, struggling to remain still and not hide away from both his memories and the anger he was sure was to come. "He just sort of waited until you were gone to…and he didn't hit where you'd see the marks but Dad…"

The sound of knuckles cracking made Sam stop talking. He was fully aware of how close his brother was and a quick sideways glance showed him the muscle tick in Dean's jaw that had always given away his anger but still Dean's gaze seemed calm if a bit too intense.

"Why…why didn't you tell me?" he asked when he was certain his tone would be level and not full of rage at their Father and disgust at himself for thinking that John had let it go.

"When you wouldn't talk to me or come close to me, I thought you hated me too so why would I have told you?" Sam scoffed, finding the bandage on his hand interesting. "Why didn't you hate me?"

Not expecting that question it took Dean a couple seconds to catch up. "I told you, I accepted it for screwing up and it wasn't the first time I'd deflected Dad's anger off of you so…"

"He beat you, Dean," Sam spoke it slowly, intently this time as he felt a chill and shivered. "How many times did you 'deflect' Dad off of me? How many times did he beat you? Like that or the time after you'd taken me to Pastor Jim's and was planning on running away? Dad beat you bad after we were away from Jim, didn't he?"

Dean froze at those words, his green eyes pinning his brother intently. "How'd you find out about that, Sammy?" he asked, voice hushed but confusion strong since he knew his brother shouldn't even have recalled the trip to Blue Earth much less anything else that happened. "You were too sick to even remember going to see Pastor Jim so there's no way that…"

"I saw…Pastor Jim this last time and he told me that I'd have to ask you about the time you and I had showed up at his place and he talked you out of taking me away from Dad," Sam responded, catching the harsh oath his brother threw. "Dean, you never acted like you wanted to get away from Dad so why…"

"I stayed with Dad because he had you, Sam and because I was afraid of what he'd do to himself if someone wasn't there to try to counter him or keep him grounded," Dean sighed, giving a bitter laugh. "There were plenty of times when I could've taken you and left. Hell, there were times when I could've put a damn bullet in his heart like when you turned sixteen."

Expecting the already tense hunter to go rigid, Dean's hand was quick to lay on his brother's shoulder to keep him still when he went to move away. "You're not the only one to see things we both probably wanted to stay buried, Sammy," he remarked, seeing the brief flash of both panic and shame in the boy's eyes. "Sammy, I know that there are things that you've kept from me. Both from when you were a kid to more recent, but you know that if you'd have told me about Stanton when you showed up that night, when Jim called me and Caleb in, that I would've killed him right then and Dad could've gone straight to hell when he showed up, right?"

Turning slowly from the window, Sam finally let his eyes briefly meet Dean's only to look away when he crossed his arms tight as if warding off a chill or…shielding himself. "It was my fault. I was pissed off at you for breaking a promise, Dad was busy on that job he was doing so when he suggested I go out for a pizza with…" he bit his lip rather than say the name which made him sick. "I went but didn't want to."

"Dad…told you to go with Stanton?" Dean gritted his teeth and swore that the next time he saw his father's ghost that he was using rocksalt on the bastard. "The guy was an asshole who I told him you didn't like."

"Allies come in handy," Sam quoted John's words and saw his brother's frown get deeper so he shrugged. "He said pizza. I didn't want to spend another night sulking because you didn't come home like you promised. I mean, I was sixteen and I'd spent the past month telling you that I didn't need you babysitting me all the time. So…I went but when he ended up at the bar…"

His words drifted off as his mind went back. Sam had avoided this memory for years but he accepted that he couldn't keep hiding things from his brother. "I don't know what really happened, Dean. I remember the pizza, I remember him hounding me to drink one damn beer. He laughed, said he wouldn't rat me out to Dad or to my big brother, which made me mad for some reason, and then…things got hazy and I just remember images flashing of a needle in my arm and…" he stopped, turning or trying to except the hand grasping his shoulder kept him still. "I came to on a bed and he was passed out and I…I wanted you…well, I wanted to die first but then I panicked and just ran. I ran until I got to you and I didn't care if you got angry or not cause I just knew that with you I'd be…"

"…Safe," Dean finished tightly, having read between those shaking lines to get the gist of that night and fought to control his own feelings when he finally reached out. "C'mere, Sam," he murmured, pulling the trembling young man against him to finally do what he'd been wanting to since waking up. "It's not your fault, Sammy. Nothing is ever your fault," he promised, gently leading the way back to the sofa so he'd have a stable area for what he knew would be coming.

Ever since he and Bobby had rescued Sam from that warehouse in Lawrence he'd been waiting for the day when the walls his brother had put up to shield himself from the memories of those events would start to crack. Now, with everything that Sam endured this time, he was afraid that those walls were going to do more than crack.

Sam's willingness to talk about being drugged and assaulted by their Dad's friend warned Dean that the walls were being tore down by other memories. He just had to hope that he was able to handle the fallout and keep his little brother safe.

"You could've had a normal life if Mom hadn't had me or if she hadn't died or if…if you would've done what Dad told you to, De'n," Sam's voice was shaking now but what concerned Dean more was the second he heard him shorten his name. "Everyone dies around me, like Jess said. Jess, Madison, Mom, Dad, Jo, Ellen, Ash…you."

"Sam, listen to me," Dean urged, tightening his arm to keep his brother against his chest while he used his other to grab for his jacket and place it around Sam for both warmth and security. "What you saw in that place, it was made to hurt you. To make you doubt just like what the Djinn poison did," he cursed everyone he could think of when he finally felt more than heard the first sob. "Sammy, everything I ever did for you was because I wanted to. I know that Michael showed you the worst crap the douche could think of but if I sacrificed then it was because I wanted to. Not because I was made to or out of guilt or obligation because you were never an obligation to me, little brother."

If Sam was listening, Dean couldn't tell. Something had broken in his brother because that was the only time that Sam truly let his emotions ran free so all Dean could do was sit back on the sofa, settle his brutally sobbing little brother against him and wait it out while he talked about anything that he could think of.

Tucking the jacket tighter around Sam, he felt the hand that suddenly reached up to clutch his amulet and he let his eyes close. "It'll be fine, Sammy," he promised soothingly, carding strong finger through his brother's hair. "I'm right here and you'll never be alone. Not again and no matter what you saw, then or now, I'd never want to be anywhere but with you."

Exhaustion, pain, and memories that he'd been fighting to keep away for months made Sam more emotional than even he liked and knowing how his brother felt about massive chick-flick moments, he struggled for control but nothing would stop the tide now.

"I killed you."

Three words cried brokenly tore into Dean's heart and made his hand shake as they rubbed gently on his brother's upper back and neck. "No, no you didn't, Sammy," he whispered, feeling the younger man grip the amulet tighter while Sam's other hand was clutching Dean's t-shirt for some reassurance that he wasn't dreaming again. "Sam, look up at me. I'm right here, dude. You didn't kill me. You could never kill me…bore me sure but never kill me."

"I did, I killed you. They said so," Sam argued, words broken between sobs that he wasn't even aware of by this point as he remembered too much too fast. "I ripped your heart out. You trusted me and I killed you, De'n. Just like in Stull when you were hurt. I beat, and beat, and beat on you there, I hurt you in the asylum, I…" he stopped to breath but had buried his face against his brother's neck. "I'm no good. I'm dangerous and you need to leave me so that you can have Lisa and Ben and a baby and…"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, geek boy!" Dean had finally had enough, pushing Sam back to arm's length or as far as he could move him without strangling himself since his amulet was still clutched in the younger man's fist.

Grabbing Sam's face in both hands, he forced him to meet his eyes and was shocked by the wildness in his brother's hazel eyes. "Sammy! Listen to me!" he made his voice stronger in hopes that the tone would get through to his brother. "First, I am not leaving you ever. I was there with you from the second Mom and Dad brought you home. Except for that little mishap while you went to find yourself at college I will be by your side until we're both old men in the old hunters' home," he promised firmly, moving one hand around to grip the back of Sam's neck in a familiar move. "I made mistakes, Sammy, things I wish to God I could take back and I can't take back your memories of the past year or what you saw this time, but Bobby and I'll be here as we get through it all, alright?"

Blinking wide eyes, it took Sam a moment before he could see his brother but it was something else that entered his mind that started to ease him back into reality. "Pastor Jim…he said you saw me get my first award at Stanford," he spoke, voice quiet after crying for so long and so hard. "He said you were at Stanford."

"Huh," Dean coughed, wondering if he'd have anything left of his macho image after this was over. "Damn, getting killed by Meg sure loosened Jim's tongue, didn't it?" he muttered, sighing when all he got was deep puppy dog eyes. "Yeah, alright. I was in the area, decided to look in on you and…found out about that geeky awards thing that was going on. No big deal, Sam."

Slowly feeling the fingers gripping his neck and recognizing the signals that Dean's fingers were automatically drawing with them, Sam began to relax slightly even though the darker memories were still too close. He wanted to concentrate on his brother before Dean could close off again. "You left the card with the money in it and the book, didn't you?" he asked, feeling his older brother begin to get edgy.

Sam accepted that Dean was great when handling Sam's emotions but he was in no way at ease when having to admit his own. "How'd you know to bring the book? Don't say you picked it up there because none of the stores around Stanford had it in yet. I'd checked."

"Bobby sure is taking long enough with that…alright," he groaned, squeezing his brother's neck just a little harder to get back at Sam for bringing this up when it was Dean who was trying to be the steady one. "I'd only been buying you the damn things since they started coming out so I figured I'd pick that one up in case I was ever in the area. I was…then and well, I figured I should drop a card off since he went all big brain to win an award and all and…"

"Did you play for the money specifically or was it what you had on you that night, Dean?" seeing how uneasy his brother was told Sam that answer. Two hundred dollars was all the money Dean had in his wallet and he'd just put it in a card for Sam. "How pissed did Dad get when you came back broke?"

"Told Dad I lost it in a pool game, smart guy," Dean shot back, keeping his one hand on Sam's neck while he used his other to lift his face back to eye level. "You good now or are do you just want to get all this out now while you have me emotionally weak?"

Sam considered that question. He wasn't good and he knew that. He was barely coping and the second Dean's fingers eased their grip on his neck Sam's fist curled tighter into his brother's shirt. "I can't block out the memories this time, Dean," he murmured, surprised to feel the touch of worn leather being moved so that he could grasp it. "Before they came as nightmares or fleeting images when you weren't around but now, I can't get rid of them. I keep seeing that room, the machines, I can feel the straps and tubes…the wires and…" he jerked unknowingly until a strong hand reached for the one he was grasping the amulet with.

"Sam, I'm gonna be honest with you, little brother, you went through hell this time," Dean told him seriously, being cautious when he eased his brother closer again and hating that his damn right shoulder was keeping him limited on what he could do to help Sam. "Aside from the mental crap in that place, they did a number on you with some other crap. Bobby says you're going to have some bad days coming but hey, that's what awesome big brothers are for after all. To get their pain in the ass little brothers over the hard spots." he paused for a moment. "I don't know what you saw, Sam and…I wish I could take it away from you but all I can do is be there every time we need to do chick flick moments like this one and break the next son of a bitch who comes close to you."

Considering that, the younger Winchester slowly nodded then bit his lip. "Were the images real, Dean?" he asked suddenly. "I mean, the good ones. The ones who seemed to want to help, were they real?"

Remembering the version of his brother that he'd seen and the younger John, Dean could only hope so in some way that they had been real even though he didn't want to figure out how or why. "I think they were, Sammy," he nodded, surprised when his brother eased back so that he was leaning into Dean's left side; a sure sign that Sam still wasn't emotionally healed. "I think that someone was helping us and as much as I hate the thought of it being Gabriel…"

"I killed Samuel, Dean," Sam spoke suddenly, still clutching the amulet around his brother's neck almost without being aware of it. "The Campbells…they'll come…"

"We'll handle it," Dean cut him off, having been thinking the same thing. "Sam, even if you hadn't killed that psycho old man to save me, I would've gone after him eventually for what he did to you," he remarked without a doubt in his mind. "We're gonna have trouble with that family until we figure out what the hell Crowley's up to so for now, let it go. Anyone comes after you, comes after me and with the mood Bobby's in right now, I'll just turn him loose."

His brother could always make him laugh and even with all he'd been through and would probably still go through Sam chuckled at that thought. Then slowly he turned serious. "Did I die again?"

"Damn, little brother, for someone who barely knew his name three days ago you sure are coming up with all the hard ones now," Dean griped but made certain his tone stayed light, carding fingers easily back through Sam's hair that, for once, he won't complain it too long. "Yeah, but you came back. And once the drug is out of your system fully and you're strong again, we're on the road."

Seeing that Sam's fingers were stiff as they went to reach across the sofa for the leather jacket, Dean automatically moved it closer without seeming obvious. "Something else bothering you, Sammy?" he figured a lot was bothering his brother but could only let him pick that topic to discuss.

"Can…Dean, you remember right after Jess you said that if I wanted to talk about her that you'd listen?" Sam began slowly, shivering slightly as his still infected wounds made him feverish at times.

Laying the back of a hand on his brother's forehead to check for a fever, Dean nodded absently. Correctly guessing that Sammy was running a low grade fever but chalked that up to his injuries and being out in the snow at night…which will involve Bobby bitching all night but then his mind locked onto what his brother was silently asking.

"You want to talk, Sam?" he asked hesitantly, feeling the nod more than hearing a reply since Sam had returned his eyes to the amulet. "Huh-uh, hang on a second," he urged, gently easing away to stand only long enough to throw another couple logs on the dying fire, stoke it up, grab a bottle of aged whiskey from where he knew Bobby stashed it and took a long pull before sitting back down. "Okay, let's talk."

Seeing Sam's doubts, Dean just sat back on the sofa to stretch out the leg that the dart had hit while he laid his right arm out along the back of the sofa. "Your move, Sammy," he declared and then waited to see what his brother would do.

Torn between wanting to unload some of the painful memories that were tearing him apart and not making his brother feel awkward, Sam watched for several moments before slowly he moved back closer to where Dean sat. He caught the jacket as it was tossed to him, knowing it was the closest to Dean telling him to let loose as he was going to get. "Everything?"

"Whatever you want to tell me, Sammy," Dean replied with more confidence than he felt, hoping he was strong enough to handle this for his brother and hoping Bobby wouldn't mind the damage he'd probably cause outside later on.


"Bobby, how the hell long does it take to heat up a can of soup?" Rufus was wondering while he sneaked cookies to the puppy under the table.

Slapping a couple bowls on a tray before stirring the medium size stockpot again, Bobby snorted. "I ain't feedin' those boys canned soup," he returned, explaining while getting crackers out and noticing that the cookie tin was emptier than it should have been. "Lady down the road dropped off some homemade chicken noodle a couple weeks before that whole mess with Sam and the 'shifter went down. I froze it for later so now we're heating it up for the boys and you had damn well better stop feeding that mutt cookies," he growled warningly.

Debating on making tea or just using straight whiskey, he chose on both since he figured Sam's throat would need the tea and Dean would be better off with straight liquor after the night he's had.

"You know, those Campbells won't take this lying down," Rufus spoke after a moment, pouring another cup of instant coffee while reminding himself to bring a coffee maker. "Them or someone will come for those boys again."

Bobby had been thinking about that for the past few days and after he and Rufus had gotten down burning Samuel's body, the thoughts had been stronger. "Yeah, I know," he sighed, figuring what would be coming next. "Those boys are all the family I got, Rufus, and I'm all they've got so let the sonsofbitches come, I'll be ready."

"That's what I was afraid you'd say," Rufus muttered when the unexpected scream from the living room took both men off guard and sent the puppy skittering into a broom closet. "Goddamn it, Singer! We're reinforcing every single ward, sign, spell or whatever you have on this place!" he snapped, grabbing for a weapon even while Bobby was running with his shotgun already in hand.

Not knowing if a demon or evil Angel, Bobby never really thought he'd ever have to say that, or something else had gotten into his home to go after the boys, he wasn't taking chances. Jerking open the sliding pocket doors to the living room, he went in with shotgun ready to fire but after a quick glance around, only saw…

"Dean, what in the hell's going on?" he demanded as Rufus made sure the room was secure.

Dean didn't bother answering his friend as he struggled to contain his little brother. He had known it would probably come to this and hadn't been surprised when after about an hour and a half of talking that Sam had begun to shake.

At first, just holding the jacket had been enough to soothe any fears that were starting to come but then he had moved closer to his brother much as he had a boy seeking comfort. Soon, his hand had sought the comfort of the amulet and while Dean had offered to take it off, Sam had just shook his head and forged on with his memories.

He had told Dean what little he recalled of his time with Lucifer and Michael in the Cage before Gabriel had taken him out. He explained about the night he'd been outside Lisa's house to see Dean but had panicked and ran and finally about how he'd come to be with the Campbells.

All of that he had gotten through with little to no issues, though he had started missing letters in his speech while speaking of what Michael had told him of Dean's life. It wasn't until he got to the part about their Mom's family that his speech changed to the point that his brother knew what would come.

As it turned out, Sam didn't have full memories of his time with Samuel and the others until this most recent attack unlocked them. He had been uneasy and suspicious about them when he would want to go see his brother but they kept coming up with excuses. It wasn't until a drug didn't work well enough and he recalled something that he knew he had to get to Dean and that was when he'd been ambushed by the shapeshifter and replaced.

It was those memories that had started Sam trembling and by the time he'd reached what he could recall of the recent attack, the wires and tubes being reinserted that he's panicked fully and screamed. It was also all Dean could do to get him into his arms to hold him still and reassure him since he'd forgotten that even as a skinny kid, Sammy was stronger than he looked when scared.

"Shhh, c;mon, Sammy," he whispered against Sam's hair, letting the boy curl against him like he had when they'd both been small. "It's over. I'll be with you and like before, we'll get over this."

"You believe that?" Bobby asked, having set the shotgun aside once he was certain no true threat existed. "You know that nightmares will be the least of his worries."

Understanding that his brother would be having physical side effects along with the mental ones again, Dean only nodded. "So, I banish his butt upstairs to our room again until he can move and sleep for more than five seconds without screaming…unless you're kicking us out."

"I outta slap you upside your damn head for even saying that, boy," Bobby growled, stepping closer to the couch but just lifted a warning brow when he saw how the older Winchester had tensed. "You know damn good and well that you two boys are stayin' here until I'm good and sure that you're both strong enough to be out there on your own," he declared, eyeing the way Sam seemed to be sleeping against his brother and considered the trip upstairs. "You want to try to move him?"

"Nah, he'll wake up if we do," Dean yawned, but didn't move except to card his fingers through his brother's hair again to soothe when he shifted. "Just leave us here for tonight but yell for Cas cause I'm gonna want to know what to expect from his end."

"That should be fun," Bobby groused, reaching for a discarded blanket to throw over the boys. "Sleep, Dean," he urged more gently. "He'll need you for this."

A quiet nod was all the answer he got as he watched Dean settled back further on the sofa and nearly smirked when he caught what he was doing.

Motioning to Rufus to be quiet, Bobby waited to see that by shifting the way he had he'd given his 6'4" little brother more room but instead of taking it, Sam had merely curled up tighter with his head buried against Dean's shoulder while his hand still clutched the amulet and somehow Dean's jacket had been tucked into Sam's arms.

"You will never mention to either of those boys that you saw that," Bobby warned in a dangerous tone, poking his friend in the chest. "Now, you know how to install an I-Pod?"

Blinking, Rufus scowled. "Hell, I don't even know what one is much less how to install it in…install it in what?" he stared as Bobby merely pointed. "You screw with his car and that kid'll go postal on us instead of that damn Angel."

"We're riskin' it since it's his idea," Bobby decided, hoping they didn't blow up the car instead.

Dean had waited for the older men to leave to settle back fully, letting his fingers move continuously so his little brother would know he wasn't alone. It was another trick that Dean had learned early on when Sam had been small, frightened, and would crawl in bed with his big brother. So long as he could feel or hear Dean than he would sleep.

As he lay there, he recalled some of what his brother had said tonight and what had been said that Dean had translated. He knew that Sam hadn't told him everything and hadn't been expecting him to but that was fine. They had plenty of time while getting Sam back on his feet to handle that.

"Merry Christmas, Sammy," he whispered before closing his eyes and missing the slender wisp of shadow that hovered close by the sofa as if watching over her boys one final time.

Twenty-Four Hours later:

"Bobby, you cannot salt and burn perfectly good cookies," Dean argued in a soft whisper.

A snort that was pure disgust came after. "You wanna bet I can't?" Bobby tossed back. "I lost a washing machine and coffee maker to that brother of yours sugar high and you, hell boy, you couldn't handle two snickerdoodles without bouncing off the damn ceiling so you sure as hell ain't touching anything with sugar!"

"Bobby…" it was as close to a whine as Dean would admit to stooping until a soft moan changed his attention from snagging Christmas cookies to his waking brother. "Sammy, you waking up now? Bobby won't let me near a cookie or a present until you do."

"I ain't you near those damn cookies period, idjit!" the older man countered but shoved a plate of freshly made pancakes toward the elder Winchester. "When he's awake, try those and don't touch those boxes!"

Dean waited until his friend had turned his back to make a face, then returned to Sam who's eyes were struggling to open fully. "Hey, easy there," he urged, when a hand grasped his good arm on instinct and took it as a clue to help the boy sit up. "You okay?"

"…Super…" Sam mumbled, throat raw, his head hurt, his hand was throbbing and he felt like he'd gone twenty rounds with vengeful spirit on speed. "You?"

"Aside from listening to Bobby bitch about everything you broke while high on sugar, I'm good," Dean responded, not intending to admit yet that his shoulder was still hurting. "Sammy, you did a number of the washing machine. Do I want to ask what you tried to wash?"

Not recalling offhand what that was, Sam shook his head slowly. "Doubt it," he muttered, feeling a glass being pressed to his lips. "No, can't…"

"You need to drink and eat, kiddo," Dean told him, hating that his brother was right back to the stage he'd been in shortly after Lawrence. "Either you do for me or that doctor pal of Bobby's does it his way and…Sammy, you know I won't let them do that," he grabbed his brother before he could move, knowing he was thinking of the feeding tube. "Drink this and I'll show you your present."

The tone was bribery and Sam knew it but since he was curious to what his brother was up to, he tried to sip the watered down juice but felt his throat nearly close up. "…can't, it…"

"Alright, here," Dean held out a small box to his brother. "You had better appreciate this too, geek."

Frowning, Sam took the box with hands that still shook and unwrapped it, flipped open the lid and felt his eyes grow huge, then confused. "This isn't my I-Pod?"

"Uhh, no," Dean admitted warily, rubbing the back of his neck as he moved to sit on the back of the sofa. "Yours met an end similar to the gnome so I got this one. I think I figured out how to put the songs back from your computer on it since it didn't blow up the Impala this morning when I tried…what?"

Sam was staring at his older brother as if he'd grown a second head. "Who are you and what did you do with my brother?" he asked good-naturedly. "You put the jack in the Impala?" he asked quietly, not sure what he was feeling. "You said it would be a cold day in…"

"Yeah, well, I figure she's as much yours as mine now so you may as well have your music when you drive," Dean muttered, clearly uncomfortable when he saw the moisture shining in his brother's eyes. "We don't have to hug now, right? I'm chick-flicked out so if we could skip a day…"

"I haven't told you in a while but…you are an awesome big brother, Dean," Sam offered softly, dropping his eyes as a way to give his brother a way out of the moment when he felt a hand on his shoulder as Dean dropped onto the sofa beside him.

Sighing, Dean swore he was making a resolution to go at least a week with no chick flick moments as he gripped Sam's neck gently, being careful of the wound back there, and pulled him closer. "I know I am…bitch," he replied, waiting with a tense breath.

"Jerk," Sam muttered, frowning. "I had planned to get you something but…"

"Y'know that damn mutt will run from a cricket, a mouse, an ant but he attached himself to the damn delivery man the other day and it took Rufus twenty minutes to get it off the guy?" Bobby grumbled, walking in with a brightly wrapped box that he handed to Dean. "Tell your brother 'thank-you' and open it."

Blinking at the box to Sam's surprised eyes, Dean slit the wrapping paper carefully to open a plain brown box, peeked inside before letting surprised joy lit his face. "You found new cassette tapes?" he began to dig through the box like a child with a new toy, holding up one tape after another. "You hate Metallica, and…is this the Def Leppard tape I lost when you were fourteen?"

"Umm, yeah. I searched online to find 'em," Sam admitted, glancing at Bobby who was standing back watching with a smile. "I figured the ones in the car had been through flood and fire with Cas so it might be time to have back-up copies…I mean, it's not easy to find classic hits of mullet rock these days."

Jerking his eyes up at the words, another time his brother had said that to him came to mind and a small smile came to Dean's face. "House rules, Sammy," he reminded quietly, sitting the box aside to hug his brother more firmly this time. "Thank you," he whispered, coughing as he pulled back. "You know that…"

"Yeah, I know," Sam returned, tensing at the knock on the door but Dean's hand kept him still while Rufus, who had decided to stay awhile longer, answered the door cautiously. "Now what do we do?"

Not having a clear answer on that, Dean was about to offer a flip reply when Rufus stuck his head in with a smirk. "Gumby Girl's here to see you, kid," he announced cheerfully, ducking the ball of paper that was thrown at him.

"Lisa?" Dean frowned, laying a hand on Sam's arm when he felt his brother tense. "Easy, I'll be right back," he assured him, motioning to Bobby to watch Sam while he stepped out to find Lisa waiting on the front porch with the puppy in the doorway actually growling. "Sure, you run from rabbits. People you growl at," he muttered, stepping out after grabbing his denim jacket. "Long way from home."

Looking around the house until finally her gaze landed on Dean, Lisa nodded. "Ben and I are on the way to my cousins and so I thought I'd finish dropping off the stuff in the house since the Impala vanished one day," she explained, motioning to the small box in her arms. "I guess you won't be back to stay."

"No, I won't be," Dean admitted, taking the box under one arm while keeping an eye on the inside of the house. "I can't involve you or Ben in the life that Sam and I lead and…" he waited a second to add. "I'm not cut out for 9-to-5, dinner at seven, pals around on Sunday for football," he told her, leaning a head toward the house. "What I am cut out for is mostly in there. Sammy needs me and so do the people we save, so that's what I have to consider. What we had…I appreciate you putting up with me but you and Ben deserve more."

Looking like she might argue, a sound from the door had her gazing into still cloudy and now wary hazel eyes as Sam came to pick Boo up. "Sam," she murmured softly, surprised in the change she noticed in the young man.

"Bobby said you could invite them in for dinner," he told his brother without meeting his gaze, blinking when the box was shoved at him.

"Lisa and Ben have plans but take this in the living room and don't snoop," Dean told him, letting his hand rest on Sam's shoulder as if in silent message because the younger man slowly nodded. "He'd been getting better until this happened," he didn't look at the woman when he spoke as he kept his gaze glued to Sam but finally did look at her. "You understand now?"

She hadn't when she'd first arrived but it was just seeing the small unspoken communication between the brothers that finally clued Lisa in to the fact that Dean would never be happy with her so long as his little brother was out in the world alone.

"You're both welcome to drop by if you're in the area," she remarked, leaning up to kiss him goodbye and felt the change there as well. "Be careful, Dean."

"My middle name, " he smiled, waiting until her car was out of sight to close the door and head back to the living room, groaning. "The part where I said not to snoop escape you, Sammy?"

Dropping most of what he'd found in the box, Sam held something up so his brother could see it even though Dean was aware of what was in that box. "You got it out of the apartment," he sounded amazed as he ran a shaking hand over the small plaque. "The night Jess died, when you went back to try to save her, you got this out."

"It was sitting on the mantle as I passed, so I grabbed it before the place went up," Dean shrugged, not liking this turn of events since he didn't want Sam upset today. "No big deal, Sam."

Sam stood, leaving the rest of the mementos in the box, but he brought his award plaque with him when he crossed the room to his brother. "You knew that you couldn't save Jess, Dean," he murmered, watching green eyes closely. "You went in for this, didn't you?"

"Yeah, I did," Dean admitted but found any further words cut off when his brother grabbed him into a tight hug that reminded him of Sam's desperate hug after the Mystery Spot deal. Allowing the gesture because he knew Sam needed the contact, Dean shot Bobby a look that threatened death if he ever brought this up again. "Alright, now go sit down with that mutt while hopefully Bobby can handle Christmas dinner without it needing to be exorcised."

Knowing the boy was referring to the possessed turkey he'd blasted over Thanksgiving, Bobby tossed him a sour look before heading for the kitchen. "You keep it up and you can cook," he growled, waiting until he was out in the hall to add. "Besides, the Sheriff's bringing dinner so be good today."

"Great," Dean muttered, sitting on the sofa beside his brother to touch the leather jacket. "Y'know, I meant what I said about you using this."

"I know," Sam looked at it for a long moment, his hand lightly brushing it. "I…just think that it's better for you to keep it for now. I know where it is if…if I need it."

Dean knew that meant that Sam wasn't ready to accept the jacket due to his memories of the past and what the jacket meant to them but he'd probably always reach for it and his brother when in need.

"Yeah, Sammy. We'll both be right here when you need us," he promised firmly, seeing his brother's hazel eyes lighten and relaxed as heard a small laugh escape Sam when the puppy fell into a box and started running around the room with the box on top. "Sammy?" he waited until those same eyes shifted back to his to finish. "I…I love you."

Those were the best words for Sam to hear since he knew how infrequently his brother offered them outright, swallowing a sudden lump he nodded shakily. "I know, Dean." he whispered, sitting back to watch the puppy and hearing a crash from the kitchen followed by a shotgun blast. "Diner food again?"

"No, I know where he hid those cookies," Dean smiled, tousling his brother's hair as he once had while hoping the New Year could bring them both some peace until Sam was strong… 'I hope.' he thought to himself.

The End

A/N: Well, this is the end. It took longer than I thought and please forgive any serious errors in this final chapter. I'm writing sick. Again, I thank everyone who has read this one and left reviews. They mean so much and I hope you will look to new Sam and Dean stories coming soon. Thanks!