I Would, If But Only I Could

Sam stared out the passenger side window without seeing anything; it took too much effort to process the scenery and besides, it took all his energy to answer his brother. Dean was talking about something, a hunt, Sam thought. He tried half-heartedly to focus, found he couldn't and decided he didn't care. Dean's tone went from pleasent to annoyed and Sam retreated even further into himself.

Dean gave one last glance at his brother before a frustrated sigh exploded from his lips. Sam wasn't looking at him, but Dean could guess at his expression; he'd been wearing it often enough lately. Fine, if Sam wanted to act like a child he could very well be treated like one. Neither of them said another word the rest of trip, when they got to a motel, or when they went to bed that night.

Sam was awake long before the sun was up. He lay on his side in bed and wondered. Wondered why he was still hunting, wondering why he was bothered getting up, or even going to bed. He wondered at the why to anything in his life when he just didn't care anymore. Next to him, a snore stuttered before settling back into it's well-known pattern.

He rolled over. Dean. His big brother was on his stomach, one arm hanging down the bed, the other trapped somewhere between his body and the matress. Once, what felt like a couple lifetimes ago, Dean would have been answer enough to the why's. His brother had always given him reason enough for anything.

But not anymore.

In the months since their dad's death, Sam had tried every which way he knew to let Dean know he was there, not just as a willing ear or shoulder, but for anything. He'd expected the anger of course, because that was how Dean dealt with sadness or worry. He'd even half-expected him to blame Sam for everything (why not, when Sam himself and even John did?) that had happened. Being pushed away, physically, emotionally, verbally, he could even handle that for the most part.

But when Dean had trusted Gordon over Sam?

Okay, so Gordon was a vampire hunter with more experience on the subject than either of them; Sam could admit the man knew what he was doing...sometimes. And Sam could also admit that Dean had been looking at Gordon as a missing authority figure.

But when Dean had gone with Gordon without a look or care for Sam, it had snapped something inside of the younger Winchester.

Sam could only be kicked so many times before he just couldn't get back up. He wasn't that strong. So he layed still, broken, bleeding and crying (all metaphorically speaking) and hadn't gotten up since.

Dean had kicked him again later.

And Sam hadn't cared because he couldn't feel it.

Between loosing Jess, dad, his apparent fate with the demon, and now Dean, Sam gave up. He was done. See, he could take a hint after all universe.

Slowly, or maybe not, Sam withdrew. He quit trying to make peace with Dean, quit trying to save his soul by saving others. Things that gave him some pleasure no longer had any shine to them; in fact, it was hard to do them. Reading, researching, running, talking with people, exploring, all of this he had to make himself do, without success most of the time. Everything dulled, his sight, hearing, and thinking. Food didn't have a taste, neither did drink. He talked less and less and slept more. Even sleep wasn't the same though, because no matter how long he slept he still felt tired when he woke up.

If Dean noticed any changess, he didn't say or do anything about it. Maybe it was selfish, but that lack of attention made Sam slip even deeper and before he knew it, he didn't care if Dean did notice.

Lately, Sam was caring about something entirely different.

One day while Dean was cleaning weapons, Sam had watched him and thought, 'What if I did that and got shot and killed?'

The idea hadn't bothered him. On the contrary, it sounded rather appealing.

From then on, late at night or even in the car, Sam would think about all the different ways he could kill himself and make it look accidental. Then he thought, 'Why bother with that? Why not just do it?' It started more late night scenarios.

Light was starting to peek through the curtains. It was harder to make himself get up (it always got so, so much harder every day) and shower. He got breakfast, returned in time to see Dean starting to wake up, and went over the hunt with his brother in motions he had to remind himself to perform. It didn't matter though.

Soon he wouldn't have to bother at all.

Something was off about Sam. Dean watched his brother walk from the car to the library. For the past month or so, Sam had gotten quieter, more solemn, with his shoulders even lower and his eyes always on his feet. Now, his little brother was walking with determination, head higher than Dean could remember seeing in a while. Dean frowned as an idea of what it could be tickled his mind and then disappeared. With a shrug he started the car. Sam hadn't said anything to him about whatever it was, but it seemed like the kid had figured it out on his own. Besides, if he hadn't, Dean thought that eventually Sam would say something to him. He always did.

The moon was full and new, illuminating through the thick branches that covered the forest floor. The Winchester brothers used the light to their full advantage as they moved quietly around trees. They were hunting a black dog and were each armed with silver. Dean was point and Sam followed, both watching, waiting, planning.

Dean was waiting and planning for a kill.

Sam was too, but not of the black dog.

When it attacked, the only warning they had was a flash of red eyes and a low, deep growl.

Dean rolled out of the way of a massive paw. When he landed in a crouch, he squeezed off three shots. The dog howled but that was the only sign it made of pain. With another growl, the massive dog lunged for Dean.

Dean fired again and lunged out of the way. Out of the corner of his eye, Dean saw Sam approach the dog from the side and fire a few rounds. The dog shifted his attention to Sam.

He thought he shouted something, a warning maybe, but he never remembered, it didn't seem to matter. Because the dog was lunging at Sam with teeth and claws and Sam...

Sam wasn't moving.

Dean stared in open horror (or maybe fascination?) at his brother. He couldn't decipher the look on Sam's face, because his head was full of nothing but Sam get out the way, move Sam, and Sammy!

Then the jaws latched onto Sam's shoulder and upper torso and flung him to the side like a rag doll. Sam had barely just stopped bouncing off the ground when the dog swiped at him again with a paw.

Dean thought about a cat tossing around a dead mouse.

There was shouting, the sound of gunshots, a howl of death, more shouting that became screaming and then the click click of an empty gun.

Realizing what happened sharply, like jerking awake from a nightmare, Dean threw his gun to the ground before running over to Sam.

He collapsed to his knees next to his baby brother (not because his legs had given out, nope, not at all) and looked for the wound. But there was so much blood, he couldn't tell. Sam moaned and his eyes fluttered open. Dean looked at him.

"Sammy, hey, stay with me," Dean ordered. He took off his outer flannel shirt and pressed it down on Sam's body. Sam didn't twitch, just stared at Dean.

"You hear me? Sammy? Talk to me man, stay awake!"

"I'm tired," Sam said, voice small but still clearly audible in the silent forest.

"I know, but don't go to sleep, stay awake Sammy."

"I can't." Another whispher of sound, and Dean took one hand off the shirt to cup Sam's face to get his attention.

"You can," Dean said fiercly. "You can and you will!"

Sam stared at him with tired, so incredibly tired, eyes and asked, "Why?"

Suddenly, the look on Sam's face before the dog had gotten him was crystal clear in Dean's mind and he knew the emotions that had flickered across his face.

Peace. Resolution. Acceptance. Some happiness.

Sam's words also took on a whole new meaning when combined with that.

"No," Dean whisphered. "No, no, no, nononono...Sammy, please," he begged. "Come on fight!"

Sam's eyes closed and he repeated his question. "Why?"

"For me," he responded desperatly. "For me, Sammy, please."

"The hazel eyes opened to look at him again, dull with pain and fading life and a loss of will. There was something else too, something Dean saw and recognized suddenly with a start.

Sam already had. He had tried for Dean, but he couldn't anymore. Disappointment and rejection could only be taken so many times without even just a little hope.

"Please." It was all he could say.

Sam watched him but Dean couldn't see any attempt at trying in his eyes. Sams' breath stuttered out a sigh and his eyes closed.

Dean screamed, begged, ordered and pleaded, shaking Sam and then holding him.

Sam's eyes never reopened.

FIN