"That's unfair!" Dean was lying on one of the two beds in a weirdly decorated room of a motel that was a safe distance away from the abandoned farm. Pain killers made the edges of his mind a little fuzzy, but dulled the throbbing, pulsing pain from his injured hand. Mild concussion or not, Sam had helped him back to the car and packed up their gear despite his protests. Sam also had insisted on dragging him into the ER of the nearest hospital and though hospitals usually ranked somewhere between rats and demons on his list of favorite things, he was rather grateful for the good stuff that they had given him. It had taken them some hours to get his hand clean up and bandaged and the rest of the day had gone by by putting as many miles of tarmac between them and that farm as possible. It was late evening now, he was decidedly hungry and Sam was nagging and doing his touchy-feely thing. Glaring up at his brother who was standing at the foot of his bed, he kept picking at the bandages.

Sam raised an eyebrow. "It is?" Putting his hands on his hips, he scowled back at Dean. "Yeah, it's friggin' unfair! I'm an injured man!" To underline his point, Dean held out his bandaged hand and waved it at Sam. "Injured, drugged up and helpless."

Sam rolled his eyes with an indignant laugh. "Helpless? You? Tell me another!" He heard Dean mutter something under his breath as he walked over to his own bed to sit down. "Dean, I'm just trying to help, you know?" He watched as Dean focused on the bandages again, picking at them with a deep frown. Several minutes went by before he lifted his head again and turned to Sam. "And you had to wait for me to be helpless, injured and drugged up to do so, Florence?"

The sarcasm oozing from Dean's reply made him jump back to his feet and had him pace over to the table. At times, his brother seemed to put everything he had into driving him into insanity. With another roll of his eyes, he turned back to face his older sibling. "Yes, dammit! I had to wait. And you know why?" Dean opened his mouth to answer, but Sam didn't intend to give him a chance to crack another joke to defuse the situation. Instead, he cut him off by stabbing an accusing finger into his direction. "Because that's the only damn time that you stop running."

There was a moment of silence that hovered awkwardly in the room as Dean stared at Sam who met the look with set jaws. Finally, Dean dropped his gaze back to the bandages and started tugging at them again. "'m not running away," he murmured quietly.

"Oh?" Sam's mocked surprise made Dean look back up at him. "Well, let's see what we got there then. Oh yeah, Dean trying to heroically sacrifice his life by jumping into an inferno." Sam started to tick off the items on the fingers of his hand. "Then we had Dean going blank during a hospital visit. Dean taking two showers at the same day, coming out looking like something the cat dragged in. And … I forgot the nightmares. Couldn't help to notice those." Dean closed his mouth again and turned his attention back to his bandages. "Dean! C'mon, bro. Talk to me! What was this all about?" When he was rewarded with nothing but silence, Sam turned with a huff and ran his fingers through his hair. It took him a few moments to cool down again, then he turned to face his brother again. "You are scaring me, you know? I'm scared that one of these days, you'll be doing something lethally stupid in order to save someone. I'm scared that I'll be the one to bury you in the end."

Dean stopped picking at the bandages and instead watched from below his lashes as Sam paced. Guilt gnawed at him as he chewed on his lower lip. Sam's accusations had him caught between the rock and the hard place and he couldn't quite help the anger that welled up inside him because of that. "And what am I supposed to do?" he asked, making an effort to keep his voice calm. Sam stopped dead in his tracks and turned back to face him again. "Should I've watched that thing light you up like a torch? Do you think I could watch you die like that boy back at the hospital? Because no, Sam. I can't!" There was another moment of silence and Dean noticed that there had been more heat in his words than he intended to put into them.

A few moments passed as both brother simply stared at each other. Then Dean averted his eyes and drew a deep breath. When he spoke again, his voice was quiet. "The owner of that gas station. She had her baby girl with her that day. 'bout eight months. 'twas the first time, she had her with her." He rubbed his good hand over his face tiredly, hating the fact that Sam had managed to get him into the chick-flick corner. But knowing his brother and the determined look on his face, he knew that Sam wouldn't let him out of it again all that easily. Not as long as he didn't give him at least some morsels to satisfy him. Talk about a dog and its bone. "Couldn't save them, Sammy." He glanced up at his brother again to watch him move over to his own bed again.

Slowly, Sam sat down, trying to make sense of what his brother had said. "Dean," he finally started. "You said yourself that you can't save everybody." - "Yeah, but I should," Dean shot back and went to studying the bandages on his hand again. Sam couldn't help the sad laugh. "Why, Dean? Why you?" Sam's question made Dean look back at Sam, studying him, imploring him to understand. "Because ...," he started, then broke off and shook his head. "Because what?" Sam was leaning closer, trying to pry an answer from his older brother that made sense to him, but Dean just sighed.

Because, if I can't save them, how am I supposed to save you?

Eventually, Dean shook his head again. "Just because."


Note: Thanks to all those that stuck with my little story. It's actually the first one to ever get finished AND published. So, really: Thanks. And special thanks to those that took the time to write a review. Those mean a lot to me.