A/N: I haven't been able to download 6.13 to my Ipod to watch yet. This story is based on something I was told happened in the episode.

December 1997

It was just a fever, and not even a high one. Sam knew. He took his own temperature and gave himself his own medicine and sat himself down at the rickety table to try and finish his book report.

"You okay?" Dad asked. He was at the other, not-much-less-rickety table with Dean and Caleb and Travis, scoping out the details of their latest hunt. Dean looked at Sam, hard, but didn't ask if he was OK. He already knew what answer Sam would give.

"Tired." Sam lied. Sort of lied. He was sort of tired. Tired of winter's cold and pitch black afternoons, tired of drafty cabins and the tingle of fever skittering over his skin, tired of the voices and rustling papers and a life that threatened his family practically every single time they stood upright.

"Go get some sleep." Dean told him.

"I need to get this done. I told Pastor Jim I'd send it to him tomorrow. I need to finish this tonight."

They were between schools. It was only December and he was already two schools past Truman High. Right now though, he wasn't enrolled anywhere, and Pastor Jim was giving him assignments so he could count himself home schooled, while things were in flux.

"Pastor Jim will give you another day." Dean said. But Sam shook his head.

"I don't want him to."

So Dean gave him a glare but went back to listening to Dad discuss strategy, and Sam went back to his work. But the cold draft grated on his oversensitized skin and the muddle of voices grated on his disintegrating nerves and every single second made it worse and worse and worse, until finally he pushed away from his work and the table and went outside into the cold, dark, December afternoon.

It was the fever, it was just the fever that was making him grumpy and claustrophobic, he knew that. He told himself that. It was the fever that made everything seem so wasted and useless and unrelenting. He just needed to breathe some fresh air, he just needed to rest and regroup, give himself a few minutes before he got back to his book report.

He just needed more than he'd ever get out of this life.

The cabin door opened and closed and all it took was Dean's hands on his shoulders and the simple words, "All right," and Sam turned and was immediately taken into his brother's arms.

"You push too hard." Dean said into Sam's hair. "You always do."

"I need to get it done." He answered into Dean's jacket.

"You need a break." Dean gave him a squeeze and let go. He had Sam's jacket in his hands. "Come on, that diner down on the main drag has good pie and ice cream. One hour away from Pushcart isn't going to hurt anything."

"Push-kin." Sam corrected him. "Will Dad let you go?"

"Pfft." Dean rolled his eyes like it was the stupidest thing he'd heard yet. He opened the cabin door and called in, "Dad, Sammy needs something to finish his book report. We'll be back."

Sam saw Dad tip his head up that he heard.

"Need money?" Dad asked.

"Nope, got it covered."

Dean shut the door and turned back.

"Thanks, Dean." Sam told him. Dean grinned, getting Sam in a one-armed hug and propelling him to the car.

"What would you do without me?" He asked.

Present day.

Fire. Fire and hell and pain and burning and agony and isolation and despair and Sam found no relief, no sanctuary, no hope. Fire, fire, burning and fire. No hope. No relief. No sanctuary…

"…so then Dr. McSexy decides to get married and settled down. I mean - what is that?"

Sam roused to the sound of Dean's voice, talking easily as Sam crawled himself slowly into awareness. Here, there was no fire, no agony, no turmoil. Here there was only - Dean. Sam roused to find himself laying on the floor, sort of laying on the floor, sort of upright, held in Dean's arms, Dean's heartbeat thumping under his ear, Dean's voice rumbling all along his frame.

"And then Doctor what's his name, the selfless, sensitive one, he starts mercy killing people, and not even people who need it, and not even feeling sorry about it. I don't know who they've got show running that show this season but - damn - they ruined the show. I can't even watch it anymore…"

"Dean? What're you talking about?"

"How the Mean TV Fairies ruined my favorite show." Dean said, still easily, as easily as if he hadn't just been - apparently - supporting and soothing Sam away from a chink in his Wall, a chink, a scratch, that the fires of hell had licked through.

"You still watch that show?" Sam asked. He'd give himself just one more minute before he sat himself up and away from the comfort and safety of Dean's arms.

"Not if it doesn't get any better." Dean said. "That's like giving me mud pie when I asked for chocolate and saying it's the same thing just because the crust hasn't changed."

"Um. Oh. Okay." Sam kind of got the analogy. Maybe. "So - I scratched. The wall."

"Yeah, you did." Dean said. He sounded a little annoyed and a little amused. "You always push too hard."

"I'm pretty sure it runs in the family."

Dean gave a breath of laughter.

"All right." He said then. He pressed Sam closer and released him and stood up. He got Sam to his feet only long enough to get him sitting on the edge of his bed. Then he crouched in front of Sam, with that look on his face that meant he had something hard to say and didn't know how or even if he should say it.

"There was fire." Sam said, before Dean could tell him not to think about what he saw. "I was burning."

Dean nodded.

"And then what?"

"Then what - what?" Sam asked back. "That's all I saw."

"What happened after you saw that?"

"I was here." Sam swallowed and looked around the room. "I was here with you."

"All right." Dean said, smiling like Sam had given the exact, best answer. "You remember that. Okay? If ever hell gets a peek over that wall again, you remember I'll be here at the end of it."

"Okay. Yeah, okay." Sam said. "Thanks, Dean."

Dean grinned and smacked Sam's shoulder as he stood up.

"What would you do without me?" He asked.

Sam didn't even want to imagine it.

The End.