Summary: Dean thinks Sam has changed, but not for the better. AU tag to Metamorphosis, episode 4.04.

A/N: I wrote this shortly after the episode aired, frustrated because we never see the consequences of major life changes for Sam played out in the same detail as Dean's. My betas, Faye Dartmouth and Gidgetgal9, probably don't even remembering reading this story it's been so long but if you find the fic to be coherent then you have them to thank for it.

Dean had seen Sam during several low points throughout his little brother's life.

Like when Sam read their dad's journal and realized that the things that went bump in the night actually went bump in the night and would hurt you if you didn't end them first. Or when Sam fell for pretty little Lindsay Turner in Maine his junior year of high school and asked her to prom only to miss the big night when Dean pissed off the wrong bar patron and ended up in the ER, with a head full of splinters from the barstool that had been cracked over his head. And then there was the time Sam made his big announcement that he was going to Stanford on scholarship – full ride no less – and John Winchester had told him if he walked out the door he should stay gone.

It seemed like things couldn't get much darker when Jessica Moore, the love of Sam's life, had died, stomach torn open, on their apartment ceiling. Somehow, though, even that was topped when John Winchester died after making a deal with the Yellow Eyed Demon. The same demon responsible for their mother's death. For Jess's death.

Each and every time, his brother had bounced back. Dean was pretty sure anyone else would have been seeking serious therapy by that point, but not Sam. No, if Sam was anything, he was resilient.

But this time things were different. Both brothers had absorbed blow after blow and the support for one another that had once been their strength had chosen this time to go into hiding. Dean, much more a man of action instead of the caring and sharing type, longed to talk to Sam about what was going on. The fact that he wanted to talk, and not Sam, might be a first. One for the record books.

Things had changed lately and not for the better.

Dean had made some changes himself. For example, he'd cut out a certain phrase from his vocabulary...what the hell was going on in that freaky head of Sam's. Not since Dean had gone to hell, and not since Sam had described himself as a whole new level of freak. His brother had been as close to losing it as Dean had ever seen him when Sam had demanded Dean pull the car over. Before things with Jack had ended so badly.

That had been two days ago and both brothers had been bloodied and exhausted and had holed up in a room to lick their wounds. This morning they'd rolled out early, on their way to Huntsville, Alabama for some sort of demonic convergence thing that Bobby had called them about, and Sam had barely spoken to Dean at all. It wasn't the sulking, silent treatment that Sam had excelled at during his teen years. No, this time it was as if Sam didn't have anything to say.

But Dean had questions, and lots of them. Why had Sam chosen not to tell Dean about the demon blood he'd ingested as a baby? Why was Sam sneaking around with Ruby, making use of his dark powers? What mission was so important that Castiel had seen fit to drag Dean back from the bowels of hell?

Dean tried to respect his brother's request after the rugaroo debacle; in a quiet, defeated voice, Sam had asked Dean if they could skip the chit-chat about his destiny. After all of the times Dean had told Sam to shove it when it came to all of the talks Sam wanted to instigate, and used intimidation on occasion to back up his wishes, Dean felt it would be churlish to keep picking at his little brother.

The person who sat across from him in the greasy spoon was not the same little brother he'd grown up with or even the one Dean had dragged away from Stanford on a wild goose chase. This man was a stranger.

Change was good, at least according to the saying. Dean disagreed.

The waitress, tall and stacked with bright red hair and a name-tag with Tina written in swirly cursive, sauntered over to their booth. "We've got two specials tonight - meatloaf, mashed potatoes with gravy and green beans or a double cheeseburger with a side of fries. What'll it be, handsome?"

Dean tried to make eye contact with Tina and even went so far as to open his mouth before he snapped it shut; Tina was avidly watching Sam, devouring him with her eyes, as his little brother played with the menu. Dean was so used to female attention that he sometimes forgot that Sam was also attractive to the opposite sex.

Lashing his boot out, he caught Sam on the ankle and watched in amusement as Sam scowled and dropped the menu. Sam peeked up at the waitress through the heavy curtain of his hair. His tongue slipped out and nervously moistened his lower lip. The one that was still red and split from Dean's fist. "I'll just have a Caesar's salad and a coffee."

They'd been driving all day, this was their first stop for food that wasn't trapped in cellophane, and his brother wanted a salad? Unbelievable. "Sam, no. You need something more substantial. Something more manly."

This was a variation of the script they'd played out hundreds of times before. The brothers bantering back and forth, amusing themselves and the waitress of the day, and if they were lucky, they got some free food out of it. Like pie. Dean loved pie.

Only this time, Sam blinked, a mixture of confusion and hurt on his face. Kind of the same look that had been on Sam's face after Dean hit him for the second time in the motel room and then rearranged the decor.

Sam slid out of the booth, arms pulling him up while his legs awkwardly danced him away from the waitress. Dean had thought his brother just couldn't tolerate him in his personal space but apparently he couldn't abide anyone getting too close. The waitress shifted out of his way, her face full of concern.

Sam turned blindly away from the stranger's sympathetic gaze and glanced at Dean. "I've got to a...I'll be right back. Dean, could you please order something for me? You chose, it doesn't matter to me."

Tina's neck rotated so far to watch Sam's retreating back, Dean was afraid her head would pop off. Dean cleared his voice. "I'll have the cheeseburger special."

A bright red flooded Tina's face. She was attractive in a statuesque sort of way and Dean wouldn't have minded getting to know her a little better. But she was clearly smitten with Sam. "What about him?"

It was no fun teasing Sam if he wasn't going to react. Or if he over-reacted. It was weird, this not being able to read Sam thing.

Dean didn't think Sam's dinner choice was enough to sustain someone his brother's size but if Sammy was going to get all misty eyed and flounce off to the bathroom then it wasn't worth it. "He'll have that salad thing."


Dean had lost count of the number of times Sam had flipped over, sighing heavily with each maneuver. His brother would punch his pillow, make that annoying noise, and then turn over with so much gusto, the bed would creek.

Sleep was pointless with all of the raucous Sam was generating and Dean couldn't stand it anymore; they had to be sharp the next day. This demonic convergence thing in Huntsville that Bobby kept nattering about sounded pretty serious and Dean was running on empty. He just needed a little shut-eye.

"For God sake's Sam, would you give it a rest?"

Sam's jostling abruptly halted. "Sorry, Dean."

His little brother sounded beaten down and Dean didn't have the patience to deal with it at the moment. All he wanted was a little sleep. They'd spent ten straight hours on the road and Dean's eyes were crossing from fatigue.

Sam's large body shuffled off the bed and Dean could hear him moving around the room. "Sam, please, just close your eyes and relax. You need the rest just as much as I do. Tomorrow's a big day and we need to be on our best game."

The well worn sigh that had haunted Dean for the last three hours while he tried to drift off to sleep reared its ugly head and it took all of Dean's self control not to hop up and smother Sam with a pillow.

Instead the motel door cracked open, spilling brightness from the street light outside of their room onto the beds. "I'll back in a while."

When the door had opened, Dean had snapped into a sitting position, his hand on the knife under his pillow. When the door clicked with finality, Dean flopped backward and sprawled against his pillow.

Sam was an adult now, a seasoned hunter, and Dean didn't have to guard him every moment. Although he couldn't help but think he should be protecting the demons out there from his brother who might be jonesing to conduct an exorcism. Sam had said he was through with experimenting with his powers but Dean didn't know what to think. Sam had said lots of stuff and plenty of it had been lies.

When exactly had Sam honed his skills in pulling the wool over Dean's eyes? Before he'd gone to hell, Sam had been pretty transparent and sometimes Dean thought he knew even before his brother what the kid was going to say or do.

But Sam wasn't that kid anymore and Dean needed to just let go, trust him.

Trust. Something that was earned.

Dean was rolling out of bed, on his feet and at the door before Sam flew the coop. "No way. We stick together. Now park your ass in that bed or I'm going to tie you down to it. And you know that's not an idle threat."

When Sammy was twelve and hitting his stride as punk younger brother, Dean had tied Sam down to the bed. Their dad had left Dean in charge while he met up with Caleb somewhere and Sam had wanted to spend the night at his friend's house; Dad's instructions had been explicit – no one was to leave the house until he got back – and Dean had enforced it the best he could.

It had taken Sam days to forgive him, days full of his kid brother giving him nothing but the cold shoulder. It shouldn't have bugged Dean, after all Sam was a kid while Dean was already sixteen and practically an adult, but it had. In those days Sam ran to Dean with everything. Except, apparently, after Dean made good on his threat and tied him to the bed. The kid who never shut up made silence an art form and the void had left Dean reeling with loneliness.

Sam had been full of piss and vinegar back then; now he just looked at Dean with tired eyes, hung his head, and closed the door.

The bed springs squeaked but at long last, Sam remained still and quiet.

Dean checked the salt line before tumbling back into his own bed. His brain finally shut down and the rest his body so desperately craved washed over him.


The demonic convergence in Huntsville had been a bust. Same with the craphole convention, or whatever Bobby wanted to call it, in Jackson, Mississippi. Something, or someone, had tipped off the unholy participants.

Dean wheeled the impala into the motel's parking lot, his hand hitting the steering wheel in frustration.

Maybe no one had tipped off the demon community. Maybe it had been all smoke and mirrors to begin with...maybe the head demon calling the shots had wanted to lure hunters away from a certain area and had thrown a dart at the map, landing first in Huntsville and then Jackson.

In any case, there wasn't any action going on in that city, real or imagined. And because of that, Dean needed to let off some steam. They'd wasted time and effort; they could have gone west to Nevada for another hunt which had been more appealing on all fronts but instead had come here.

And the thing that pissed Dean off the most about the current situation was the way Sam was reacting. Or not reacting. When both missions had turned up snake-eyes, Sam had shrugged his shoulders and looked out the passenger side window.

Upon receiving confirmation from Bobby that nothing was happening in either location, Dean slammed out of the Impala, paced around and shouted out his frustration. Screw Bobby and his intel...Dean should have gone with his gut and insisted on Nevada. A swing through Las Vegas might have really eased the tension in the car. At least from Dean's perspective.

Climbing back into the driver's seat, Dean gunned the engine. His voice was sharp but it was because of the situation, not due to anything Sam had done. At least Dean was pretty sure he hadn't warned off any demons; he'd been by Dean's side, literally, since they left Carthage. "What do you want to do? You wanna get something to eat, get a room, hit the library, what?"

At first Dean thought Sam was ignoring him and his level of frustration shot up just shy of boiling over. But instead Sam turned his attention from whatever was so damn interesting out his passenger window and looked at Dean. "Sure, that sounds good."

Dean's eyes narrowed. "Am I talking to myself here? I just gave you a multiple choice question and you didn't give me an answer."

Sam's large eyes did that searching look thing, like he was trying to get inside of Dean's brain and figure out the correct response. But his 'IQ off the charts' brother couldn't offer anything beyond another hapless shrug of the shoulders.

Dean had had it with his little brother. It was like Sam had checked out a while ago and forgotten to tell his body. He took up space but that's about all he was good for at the moment.

It took aggravating to a whole new level. "Out. I've got stuff to do. I'll pick you up for dinner at 6."

Sam's eyebrows shot up under his bangs but he didn't question Dean. He reached into the backseat and grabbed his backpack before quietly sliding out of the Impala. Before the passenger side door had even latched shut, Dean was spraying dirt and rocks across the parking lot.

Dean adjusted the rearview mirror so he could see Sam as he pulled away. His little brother stood there, hands thrust deep into his pockets, head hanging low. Dejected. But really, that had been status quo since Sam had torched that guy. Scratch that, since Sam had torched Jack, the rugaroo.

Dean needed a drink. He needed to unwind a little. Maybe shoot some pool. Maybe break a pool stick over someone's head.

He pulled into some hole in the wall bar and stalked inside, ordering a beer, whatever they had on tap.

The afternoon dragged. He was out of sorts and spoiling for a fight but there was no one around to indulge him. There were three women at a table in the corner and each one took turns eying Dean but when he smiled, they tittered and blushed and looked away. Not promising.

After a couple of hours, Dean threw in the towel. He was bored to tears and had come nowhere near the peaceful state of mind he was trying to achieve. Maybe he could ask Gandhi Sam what his trick was. At least the Sam of old had been a bit of a pacifist. Then there'd been the trigger happy reincarnation which had scared the crap out of Dean; there was something 'end of days' crazy about watching Sam plug Casey, the hot demon bar tender in Ohio, coolly between the eyes, or even blowing away Jake without remorse.

Dean's disposition perked up when he slid into a parking space and saw a hot brunette lounging against the wall of the motel.

Upon closer inspection he realized it was the new Ruby. Bummer. He crossed over to her but didn't get too close; he didn't want to catch demonic cooties. "What do you want?"

Ruby stretched up to her full height but didn't move any closer either. Neither one of them seemed eager to come to blows; when last they met, it had pretty much been a draw. "I want to know what you did to Sam."

His eyes rolled before he could stop the action. Ruby was like some jealous lover confronting him about her property. This whole situation was twisted on so many levels, Dean didn't even know where to start. "Sam's fine. Other than the fact that you keep bothering him. He doesn't need you. Why don't you make like a tree and get out of here?"

The perky features twisted into a wry smile. "Cute. At least you think so. And I'm not going anywhere until I know what's wrong with him." Ruby jerked her thumb toward a room at the end of the building. "He looks like crap and he sounds even worse. Oh, and the bruises on his face are a nice touch. Does he have you to thank for that?"

All of his distrust and misgivings about Sam and his little demonette raged to the foreground. Not to mention the guilt. Yeah, some of the bruises were from Dean's own hand and he wasn't proud of it. He wasn't kidding when he'd said he could learn a thing or two from Gandhi Sam; his brother rarely lost his temper, and the last two times Dean had laid a finger of him, Sam had turned the other cheek. Distrust and guilt were a potent combination and he found himself getting up in Ruby's grill to compensate. "It's none of your damn business. Now get the hell out of here before I take you apart, piece by tiny little piece."

The bitch had the nerve to laugh. And then she was sliding her hand inside of Dean's leather jacket and removing the knife — the special knife engineered for killing demons that she had given to them herself — dangling it in front of his face. He was mad at himself for being distracted but he knew better than to show it. But Ruby already knew his weaknesses and how to turn the knife.

"Here," Ruby smacked the flat side of the knife against Dean's chest, "at least cutting Sam's jugular would be more humane than watching you kill him inch by inch."

Dean snatched the knife from Ruby, tucking it back into his leather jacket. But this time he retreated down the walk from her. Of course he'd never admit to retreating; it wasn't in his make-up. He just needed a little space or else he and Ruby were going to have more than words. "What the hell are you talking about now? You know what, forget I asked. I don't want to know. Just stay the fuck away from Sam, you skanky bitch."

Dean's face was red and if Ruby said one more word, the top of his head was going to explode. There was no way he was going to let some demon call the shots. Demons were the reason his family was so screwed up to begin with.

Ruby's dark eyes flashed and her long hair swirled around her shoulders as she walked toward Dean brushing by him. "Hell. Funny you should use that word. Yeah, you and I both have an all expense paid trip to hell in common now. Go figure. But we've got something more important to talk about. Namely your brother. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, or even better yet, Sam, what's best for him?"

"Oh, lady, and I use that term loosely, do not even think for one second that you know Sam better than I do." That top of the head explosion was drawing nearer, Dean's blood pressure sky rocketing.

His hand darted to the inside of his leather jacket and palmed the knife. He needed to get away from the demonic bitch before he did something that Sam wouldn't forgive him for. As satisfying as giving in to that urge would be, he couldn't chance jeopardizing his relationship with his brother.

Especially with the way things had been between them lately – Sam distant and disengaged from practically everything around him.

And Dean missed Sam. The old Sam. His Sam.

Ruby's teeth flashed against her olive complexion. "Don't kid yourself, Dean. You don't have the slightest idea about what Sam needs. I just hope he lives through this little experience of doing things your way."

And with that parting shot, the little snip flounced across the parking lot, lights dimming and blinking, before she disappeared from view.

Dean eased himself down the walk and found the room Ruby had motioned to earlier. He tried the door and found it unlocked.

Inside, Sam was curled on his side on the bed, eyes closed, but Dean could tell by his breathing pattern that he wasn't asleep.

Sighing deeply, Dean shucked out of his clothing, turned off the light, and slid under the sheet. Something had to give.


That something finally did give, one week later, but Dean wasn't prepared for the outcome.

Dean had done his best to include his brother in the decision making but Sam had continued to dither. Frustration didn't even begin to describe what Dean was feeling. He decided when to stop, picked the hunt…he did everything. Now Sam was dithering.

Sam rubbed the skin between his eyes with his thumb. "All I'm saying is that maybe we need to do a little more research. Bukavacs are indigenous to freshwater, not salt. What if it's..."

Dean shoved away from the table, drawing the eyes of some of the other diner patrons and their waitress. Bending down, he hissed in Sam's face. "Damn it, Sam. You've kept your mouth shut tight for weeks and you pick now to go against me? It totally fits — the loud noise it makes, the six legs. But whatever, if you don't want in on this one, then I'll do it myself."

The light of interest that had glowed in Sam's hazel eyes rapidly dimmed. "Yeah, sure, Dean. Whatever you say. I'll follow your lead. Let's go."

Based on Sam's behavior since the scene with Jack the Rugaroo, Dean should have expected Sam would back off instead of arguing. Sam had said "Whatever, I'm through with everything" and apparently he'd meant it.

The urge to sigh was overwhelming; lately it seemed that was his patented response to everything Sam did and Dean didn't want to be predictable so he swallowed it like a bitter pill. Maybe he shouldn't have snapped at the kid.

Sam's face was expressionless, locked down tighter than a drum, and Dean threw a twenty on the table with a lackluster flip of his hand. Everything about Sam was dragged down and slow. Even his wavy hair hung in his face limply, shielding Sam from everyone's scrutiny.

Maybe it would've been more prudent if they did a little more research but Dean needed some action. The journey to the Impala was accomplished in silence, broken only when the Chevy roared to life.

It took fifteen minutes and then Dean was pulling into the parking lot adjacent to the beach. "I'm going to sit over there, staring at the water. When Mr. Bukavac approaches me, you let loose with the silver bullets blessed with holy water and we can be out of Gulfport, Mississippi and on our way to Bobby's in no time at all."

Dean glanced at Sam and found him staring out the passenger window, lost in his own thoughts. Screw it, he didn't trust Sam to watch his back on this one. "Change of go sit on the beach and I'll toast the fugly."

Sam swiveled his head back toward Dean. "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

Pulling back his right fist, Dean let it fly, giving Sam's left biceps a little love tap. "I said you need to pull your head out of your ass. Now go sit on the beach so we can get this over with."

Sam's right hand was massaging his left arm but his eyes were earnest, without accusation. "Wait, Dean. I just wanted to say..."

Dean quirked up his eyebrow but his patience thinned when Sam sat there, staring at him with wide eyes. "Enough, let's get this over with."

The heavy door creaked as it swung open and he almost missed Sam's soft words. "Thanks, Dean. For...well, just thanks."

Ignoring his brother's strange mood, stranger than normal. Of all the times Sam picked to be caring and sharing, this really wasn't it.

Dean slammed out of the car and grabbed the gear he needed.

Sam was already shuffling across the sand, hands deep in his pockets, his head hanging low.

Maybe they needed a vacation. They certainly needed something.

Making his way to the lifeguard stand, Dean settled in the shadows and readied himself for a wait.

A tall woman, pants rolled up so the waves could lap against her ankles unimpeded, meandered down the wet sand. She paused when she drew even with Sam, waving a lazy hand. His brother reciprocated, his body relaxed.

Dean willed the woman on her merry way; the bukavac wouldn't try to drag Sam off to its lair with other people around. And they couldn't risk the dumb thing going after the wrong person.

Sam's body posture stiffened and he climbed to his feet. His head was tilted to the side in that way of his that indicated he was waiting for something to happen. Watchful waiting as his dad used to say.

A loud growl sounded from directly behind Dean and he spun on his heel, bringing the shotgun up in readiness to fire.

Orange eyes glowed brightly against the inky black of night and the creature snarled, a wildcat on steroids.

Not wanting to rush his shot, Dean waited for the bukavac to stalk closer. Its six legs dragged slowly across the sand and the muted moonlight glinted off its single, twisted horn. Perhaps hundreds of years ago it had been a fearsome sight; today it was unimpressive.

He could have done this job alone; what a piece a cake.

The bukavac circled him, hissing and snapping its sharp, jagged teeth at Dean. He let the creature toy with him for a few moments, drawing it closer, and then he let loose with a volley of holy water coated bullets.

With a sizzle and crunch, the creature disappeared before Dean's eyes.

Dean paused. That wasn't supposed to happen. There should have been whimpering and crying and copious amounts of blood. He wasn't a research geek like Sam was, but he was pretty sure he'd gotten that part right.

Dean paced around the area. Nada. Zip.

Nothing but a shadow slithering along the beach at his feet.

A cough took him by surprise and he hoped he wasn't coming down with something. It was bad enough when he was sick but inevitably Sam caught it, too, and Dean really didn't think he could cope with this version of Sam with a cold. Dean was having a hard enough time dealing with the current incarnation of Sam, lethargic and depressed. Lethargic, depressed and sneezy might just be more than he could handle.

The shadow on the beach was gone and Dean played over the scene in his mind. The bukavac had behaved like an apparition, not a flesh and blood animal, albeit supernaturally charged.

As if a bubble had burst, sounds crashed around Dean. The whimpering and cries he'd expected from his kill were pouring across the sand from Sam's last known position.

Shit. Dean's attention had been focused solely on the creature before him, leaving Sam an unprotected target.

His legs were moving, churning up the sand, even before his brain registered what was happening. Suddenly his big brother instincts were going full throttle, heightening as he reached the place where he'd last seen his brother.

Sam wasn't alone.

The woman who had moments ago been walking in the surf had a hand wrapped around Sam's throat, her other arm holding him back against her chest.

Sam's head hung to the side, giving the woman full access to his throat. His arms hung limply at his sides and his legs were slack, his weight being held by the woman. Dean's eyes locked with his brother's, willing him to fight. Sam shook his head, helplessly, and the woman took advantage of the situation.

The woman who wasn't a woman. As Dean closed in on Sam's location, the moon emerged from behind a cloud, casting weak light over the woman's upturned face – black, soulless eyes stared straight at Dean.

A demon. He'd left Sam at the mercy of a demon.

A primal cry left Dean's lips as he launched himself at the demon, the special blade already in his hand. The demon twisted its hand around Sam's throat and there was a loud popping-snapping-grinding noise. The demon held its prize — Sam's boneless body — out in front of it, allowing Dean to admire her handiwork.

This was so not how the evening was supposed to go. Sam shouldn't be made to pay for Dean's lapse in judgment and he was going to rectify that right now. Someone beat him to the punch.

"Nuh uh, not happening. It's time you picked on someone your own size."

Dean recognized the strident tone of Ruby who was behind the demon. Sam's unconscious body was dropped unceremoniously to the sand as the two demon chicks went at it.

Trusting that the scrappy Ruby could vanquish the demon without his help, Dean dropped on to his knees and made Sam his priority.

His hand gently cupped Sam's cheek and rolled his head so he could get a good look at him. "Damn it, Sam. You could have killed it yourself. Why didn't you fight?"

The lithe body of the new Ruby was dropping down on the other side of Sam. "Well, think about it, short bus. You didn't want him to use those powers, remember? Now look at him."

Dean looked and it was a lot to take in. A wide ring of red circled Sam's throat, his exhalations more a loud wheeze and his inhalations nearly nonexistent. He picked up Sam's right hand and noticed the fingers were bent in different directions, badly fractured.

He was so focused on Sam's condition that he didn't realize Ruby had scooped up Sam in her arms until she was towering over him.

It was a strange sight, the 6'4" Sam nestled in the arms of a chick standing a whole foot shorter. Sam's arms and legs hung awkwardly, bending toward the sand, his head perched against the she-demon's shoulder.

The shock wore off and Dean scrambled to his feet. "Put him down, Ruby. We don't have time for this."

Ruby ignored the note of hysteria in Dean's voice. "Actually, Dean. We don't have time to screw around while you decide how to help Sam. He's dying. Can't you hear it? His larynx is crushed and soon he won't be able to breathe. I'm taking him to the hospital."

The hospital. Sam couldn't go to the hospital. As far as the system was concerned, Sam had been a fugitive blown up in an explosion in Monument, Colorado. Long dead. Long forgotten. If Sam was admitted to the hospital, his freedom would be at risk.

As if reading his mind, Ruby muttered just loud enough for Dean to hear. "First let's get him some help, make sure he lives. Then we'll worry about the rest."

Ruby was scared. Dean had seen her cocky, obnoxious, pissed off...but never scared. Not even when he'd lured her into the Devil's Trap at Bobby's and left her to rot while they went off to confront Lilith.

But there was no mistaking the tremor in her voice or the concern on her face.

Dean's whole being screamed at him to resist Ruby, to snatch Sam out of her arms and take him back to the motel room. Dean was a pretty good medic and he'd seen Sam through lots of injuries.

But even the wheezing breaths had tapered off and Dean wasn't even sure Sam was alive.

Ruby stalked over to the Impala and waited for Dean to open the door. He didn't trust Ruby, not even as far as he could see her, but Sam was in a bad way and he didn't have a choice. Dean opened the back seat and then surprised Ruby by sliding in. "Here, give him over."

The pretty brunette demon pursed her lips but gently placed Sam in Dean's waiting arms. He threw her the keys awkwardly, ignoring her snappy retort about being trusted to drive his prized possession.

Right now, Dean didn't care about anything except Sam. The brother he'd almost gotten killed tonight. Hell, the night wasn't over yet.

Yeah, something had to give but Dean never would have guessed that it would be Sam's life.