AN: Thank you so very much for following along in this little dream world. Always so special to me. Sunshine, Karen.


When they reached the sandy shallows of the lake's bottom, Bobby jumped from the boat and helped Dean pull the nose up onto the soft, muddy bank.

Sam, still holding tight to the harpoon, stood. His breathing rapid and hampered by heavy lake-soaked clothes, that almost sent him teetering out of the rowboat to the ground.

"Hey, hey." Dean rushed forward, reaching around behind Sam and helping him out.

Sam wavered and sluggishly glanced about. The orange, metallic glow of the hunter's moon shown bright on the pine trees and large chunks of graying driftwood sticking up out of the muddy shallows. Sam frowned, something wasn't right, everything taking on a dream-like feel. Dizzying and disorienting. He sluggishly peered down at his socked feet, watching as they sank deeper into the muddy bank.

"What? What's wrong?" Dean asked, letting go of Sam's arm.

Sam's gaze slowly swung up to meet Dean's, damp bangs brushing over his eyes. "My shoes," he mumbled, curling his toes in the sloppy muck.

Dean gave a nervous laugh, "You almost drown out there, Sam, and all you can think about is your damn shoes. They're still in the boat man. Alive and well." Dean canted his head. "Just like Bobby's dirty, old hat."

"Watch how you talk about my hat, boy," Bobby huffed, shrugging out of his sopping wet jacket. "Enough chatting, Bert and Ernie."

Dean gave Bobby a strange look. Weren't Bert and Ernie gay?"

"They were brothers," Bobby said, annoyed. "Now back to the car, you two," he commanded. "This hunt's over. Sam there's looking sickly-pale. We'll try again tomorrow night. Can you keep pace, son?" Bobby asked Sam.

"I'm okay," Sam spluttered, using the rounded end of the harpoon like a walking stick to steady himself.

"Here, Sammy, I'll take that now." Dean reached for the harpoon. "Bobby's right you look..."

A scurry of splish-splashing brought all three men's heads up in the direction of the lake.

"Jumpin jellybeans," Bobby yelped.

The large fish-like creature pulled itself from the lake using pectoral fins like legs, droplets of water gliding down slippery-smooth dark skin. Large, googlely eyes protruding from the top of its head rotated, immediately spying the three hunters. Letting out a horrific scream, the giant fish skipped across the muddy ground, fast, moving straight for them.

Bobby whirled around. "Renegade fish, twelve o'clock," he shouted, dodging a flapping tail.

Dean didn't have much time to react as he made a move for the harpoon, still in Sam's hand, but was hit hard from behind by a fin acting as an arm. He knocked into Sam, dislodging the harpoon and sending it sailing.

"Friggin' guppy." He scrabbled to untangle their limbs.

With no other weapon on hand close enough, Bobby glanced around, finding a large piece of driftwood. "Over here, stinky." He waved the withered wood like a sword.

In a wink, the beast glanced behind and with a simple flick of its tail, struck Bobby's right cheek. With a cry, Bobby fell to his backside, the driftwood cast through the air and back into the lake.

"Balls." Bobby winced. He'd taken hard hits to the face before. Mostly by the flattened hand of a woman, but this took the cake. He inched up to one elbow. "Dean," he yelled. "The harpoon. It's the only thing that will stop it."

Finally untangling from Sam - who seemed really disoriented by the fall - Dean flipped over onto his back just in time to see the Mudskipper's fugly fishy face right up in his personnel space. "No steak on the lake for you, bitch." Dean kicked the creature in the mouth with a muddy boot.

The Mudskipper wasn't even stunned, going at Dean again, teeth bared.

"You are so canned tuna," Dean growled boldly, well on his way to being the one canned.

Sam shook the dizziness from his head, taking in the scene. Bobby was struggling to get back on his feet and Dean barely kept his head out of the lion's mouth, holding the creature at bay by its slippery, slimy throat.

"No, no, no." Sam scrambled on hands and knees, spotting the harpoon a few yards away, near a clump of sea grass. Crawling over, he grabbed hold of the weapon and got drunkenly to his feet. "Guh," Sam moaned, the world spinning this way and that.

Barely staying upright, Sam looked on in an almost drug-laden daze. Bobby was just making his way back to his feet. He stumbled back to the rowboat, bending down. A few seconds later, he came up with a rifle, racing back to where Dean still wrestled with the giant fish.

"Dean, heads up." Bobby cocked the gun, but before he could shoot a set of flesh-ripping teeth swung his way and he stumbled back, dodging the massive mouth. Dean still clung to the Mudskipper's throat. His legs dangling wildly and looking like a broken child's toy. The fugly fish pitched its head back and forth trying to dislodge the hunter, but Dean held tight.

"Damn it, Dean, stop screwing around with Mr. Limpet and get out of the way so I can shoot."

"Just do it," Dean ordered, finally letting go his grip on the monster's neck sending himself sailing to the edge of the lake. "Uhng." His breath whooshed from his lungs as he landed face first choking on a mouthful of soft, wet, sticky mud.

Bobby blasted the fish with three solid rounds. One bullet even hitting the heart in hopes of slowing the creature down. The Mudskipper folded over to one side, twitching, but far from dead as it rolled itself right back up.

"Crap," Bobby breathed. The fish was madder and more determine, rushing his way in a frenzied skip and hop.

Spitting lake sludge from his mouth, Dean heaved to his feet charging toward the fish. "Gotta get trout-head back on its side," Dean shouted. "Sam." He side glanced, catching his brother's eye. "Get ready."

Struggling to keep hold of the harpoon, Sam staggered lazily through his haze. He was so tired, could hardly think straight. He looked to the weapon in his hand. What was this for again? Time seemed to slow and he was short of breath. The effect made him unsteady. The world before him sloshed together, rotating and stretching in an odd, unnatural, dream-like way. The scene before him was surreal. Like watching some sort of 3-D creature feature. The giant fish head tossing wildly, jaws wide open, exposing razor-sharp teeth.

"Get ready, Sammy," Dean cried out as he and Bobby, both, free-handedly bulldogged the Mudskipper flat to its side like a steer about to be branded.

Sam tried to shake the cloudiness from his head. The harpoon in his shaky hand was weighting him down like an eighty-plus-pound barbell. He pulled at his soaking wet shirt collar, that was bunched up near his neck. Damn, he could hardly breathe. He knew he was crashing - hard and fast - but had no idea why.

"Sam, now!" Dean dug in his heels as he and Bobby pitifully rolled the Mudskipper further, exposing the soft, lighter underside.

The Mudskipper thrashed about, its powerful tail flapping like mad to escape.

Sam edged closer, his confusion and dizziness getting worse, chest burning.

"Sammy," Dean panted out of breath. "Sometime today, man."

Sam shook his head slightly, then stumbled forward in the worlds most uncoordinated effort. Only a few inches away from the Mudskipper, he tripped over a half-buried tangle of plastic fence, falling forward. His momentum and own deadening weight, key. The tip of the harpoon plunging into the underbelly of the Mudskipper. The creature went wild, bucking like a mechanical bull.

"Filet this fish, boy." Bobby gritted his teeth, fighting hard to hang on to the slippery skin. "Higher up," he rasped out of breath. "Heart's higher up."

Icy cold, weak and numb, Sam had to yank several times to withdraw the harpoon's arrowhead from the monsters tough, meaty flesh.

"Gah," Sam gasped, the momentum staggering him back a step.

"You can do it, bro. Sink this battleship," Dean shouted his encouragement, battling alongside Bobby to keep the huge bitch in place, on its side.

Sam adjusted his sight, making another attempt. Silently, he rammed the arrowhead two inches higher. The Mudskipper let out a bellowing scream. Meaty-red blood squirted out its chest like a geyser, racing and pouring to the ground.

"Direct hit," Bobby chimed, both he and Dean letting go and backing away from the dying creature.

Sam wasn't convinced he'd perforated the heart. Fearing the creature might try to escape back into the lake, Sam held his ground, unwilling to let go of the hold he had on the harpoon.

The fish wailed, shish-kabobbed on the end of the harpoon, Sam on the other. Drawing Sam forward and back in a weird sort of death dance. The muscular, blubbery brute of a fish twisted and flopped. Breathing harshly and clearly dying, but not without a fight.

"Sam!" Dean shouted. "Move…let go!"

Confused as to what to do, Sam didn't let go.

The creature slithered through the mud, dragging Sam with it, desperate for the safety of the lake. Bloody froth drooling from its still snapping mouth. Sam was forced, backward. Ankle deep in lake water. If the Mudskipper dove under now it was taking Sam with it as the kid seemed to be glued to the end of the harpoon.

"Sammy!" Dean hurried toward them, but was stopped as the wind began to blow wild.

Lake water swelled. Waves crashing to the rocky shore. Branches cracked and split in half. Leaves ripped away from the very tops of the trees. Everything was train-station loud and getting louder. Mud and rock were sucked up from the ground. Debris everywhere, speeding through the air - the Mudskippers last attempt at survival.

A large tree tore from its roots and began to fall. "Take cover," Bobby urged forcefully, shoving Dean down, both rolling out of the way.

The tree fell, Murphy's law landing it right on top the Mudskipper, just narrowly missing Sam. Blood and guts squirted up out from under the thick trunk like an exploding ketchup packet, decorating Sam ghoulish-red. Shocked, and struggling to keep his equilibrium, Sam free-wheeled. The tip of the harpoon snapping off, the handle still gripped in his hand.

The Mudskipper's death throes abruptly over caused the wind and lake to became silent. Only the harsh sound of three men gasping to catch their breaths now filled the air.

Bobby and Dean raised their heads up out of the mud. "I'm so mounting that fugly's head on a wooden plaque." Dean gave Bobby a prideful smile.

"I was thinking more along the lines of dinner. Glass of Chablis. Bouillabaisse. Maybe a little white fish in a lemon cream sauce." Bobby licked at his mustache.

What do you say, Sammy?" Dean climbed to his feet offering a hand to Bobby. "You're the big hero. Mounted and stuffed or fish soup?" He turned his smile over to Sam, who was barely standing upright, water lapping at his calves.

Sam had no thoughts other than breathing. His chest was on fire, his only response - a bout of harsh coughing, water spilling out the side of his bluing lips. He blearily looked around at the scattered twigs, branches and leaves.

"Dude?" Dean's smile slipped, replaced by an anxious frown. "What?" He took a few, tentative steps in Sam's direction.

Sam glanced back at Dean. Tried to speak, but his throat spasamed. He swayed lethargically letting the broken harpoon slip away from his blood-covered fingers.

"D-D…" Sam slightly nodded. "Deeee…" he staggered, knees caving.

"Here, here." Dean barely got to Sam fast enough to catch hold of him. "Right here, Sam, I got you," he soothed, following Sam to the ground.

"All that swimming and fighting." Bobby hurried over. "No wonder he went out for the count." He stood, staring down at Sam who was lying flat on his back, eyes barely open.

"Sam. What's going on with you?" Dean bent in low.

Sam blinked slowly, but didn't answer. His skin was sweaty and his color had changed from pale-white to blue-gray, and his breathing was too shallow.

"Dude, a nod will do," Dean hedged, nervously.

Nothing. Just more eye blinking, Sam seeming to be only semi-conscious.

Dean looked up, alarmed. "Bobby, something's really wrong."

Bobby dropped down to one knee on the opposite side of Sam, studying closely. "Kid?" he called out.

Sam stared blankly at Bobby.

Bobby dropped down to an elbow inching closer to Sam.

"Sammy, you hurt? Answer me, man!" Dean scolded.

"Sam!" Bobby slapped a hand down to the ground, next to Sam's ear.

The kid didn't flinch, totally out of it. Nearly half-asleep or half unconscious; which was unclear.

Dean started to panic. A dreaded voice in his ear telling him Sam was dying. Don't say it. Don't even think it. Dean shook the alien voice away, staring wide-eyed at Sam's chest grateful to still see the rise and fall, though slow.

"Hey, Sasquatch," Dean called, hunching further over Sam, searching for any sort of wound the Mudskipper might have left him with. "You in there?"

Bobby did the same. "Got anything?" he asked Dean as he ran a hand down Sam's left side.

"No. I don't think so," Dean answered, checking both Sam's legs, not taking his eyes off his brother.

Not finding any outward wounds, Bobby lowered an ear to press to Sam's chest and listened intently.

"Bobby?" Dean questioned, fearfully, coming back to kneel near Sam.

Bobby watched Sam a moment. The kid's throat muscles contracted as if Sam were trying to swallow something. "He must have inhaled more water than we thought," he guessed, bowing over Sam. Bobby lay a hand to Sam's chest. "I don't know." He glanced at Sam's sleepy-looking face and called to him again. "Sam, can you hear us?"

"Sammy, answer us," Dean barked.

Sam's breathing was worsening. He was gulping at the air, soundlessly. Eyes glassy and unfocused - staring dead - skyward and unresponsive. Only his arms slightly quivered at his sides.

Dean looked on as Sam's skin tone turned bluer.

"Ung," Sam suddenly let out a smothering gasp and his mouth fell open, a steady stream of water slipping out the corners, eyes disappearing into his head.

"Balls, kid." Bobby jolted, instinctively a palm coming to linger just above Sam's mouth and nose.

"Bobby?" Dean called anxiously. Is he?"

"No, he's not," Bobby muttered, unable to look Dean in the eye.

"Sam!" Dean wigged, screaming in his brother's pale-blue face at an emotional lose as to what to do. "Sammy!" Dean took his brother by the shoulders and shook, but got no response at all.

Bobby took over for Dean. "Damn you! You're not doing this to us, boy," he said sternly, opening Sam's airway with a head tilt.

Bobby jutted Sam's lax mouth further open, making sure the boy's head was far enough back to allow air to pass. He leaned down and covered Sam's lips tightly with his own, pinched Sam's nostrils shut and blew vigorously into the kid's slack mouth. Bobby removed his mouth, hovering above Sam's cold, blue lips waiting for the kid to react.

Sam's chest barely inflated, then went still.

Bobby quickly repositioned Sam's head. "Kid must have swallowed a boatload." He swiped two fingers inside of Sam's mouth checking for obstruction and clearing away excess saliva and mucous. Not finding anything more, he dropped down, bringing his mouth to Sam's once more, continuing artificial respiration.

He blew into Sam's mouth forcefully. Once. Twice. Three times. Turning his head to the side, Bobby advised Dean, "Check his pulse."

Shaking away his panic, Dean swiftly palpitated Sam's carotid artery, leaving two fingers pressed firmly at the side of his brother's neck for a few seconds - not sure if he felt a beat or not.

"Got a heartbeat, but weak and quivering," he finally said looking to Bobby for further instruction.

Bobby bent over and breathed again for Sam. He paused only briefly to wait for the chest to rise on its own. For Sam to come around hacking and coughing.

Sam's chest once again inflated, then fell. Nothing more.

"We're trying to save your life ya idjit," Bobby growled in frustration. "Least you could do is show a little interest."

Bobby breathed again for Sam. Again and again. Damn near passing out.

"Sammy," Dean shouted, fingers never leaving Sam's neck, noting Sam's heartbeat was fading. "You're taking too long, man," Dean chastised. "Let's go. Come on!"

"Breathe, Sam," Bobby grunted, blowing in more air, frantic and fast.

"Sam. Can you hear me? Do you understand? You have to breathe, buddy," Dean spoke all the while watching Bobby breathing for he and Sam. Hell for all of them as Dean held his breath waiting.

"Damn you, Sam!" Dean angrily yelled, feeling the sudden absence of a heartbeat. Quickly he moved two hands over the center-line of Sam's breast bone and started to work his brother's heart.

Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down.

Was all the declaration Bobby needed to know they were losing the kid. He stepped up his own efforts.

"Oh, Christ," Bobby whispered, circling Sam's mouth again, he blew in more air. Then immediately taking in another panic-stricken breath and blowing. Sending breath after breath of his life, fast and hot into Sam's lungs. "Breathe, Sam, breathe," Bobby muttered as he pulled his mouth away and waited for a reaction.

Sam lay limp and not responding.

Dean kept at Sam's chest in a frenzied and concentrated fashion. Not saying a word. His mantra silent filling his head, eating away at his soul. Live. Live. Live.

He wouldn't stop, until his own heartbeat did.

What felt like forever was in fact only a few minutes.

"You stubborn son of a bitch." Bobby sat back on his hunches, panting hard, laying a hand against the side of Sam's cheek.

Sam was ice-cold, skin a darker purplish- blue.

Dean stopped his efforts, only to check for a pulse, though already knowing there was none. He looked to Bobby with tears of hopelessness.

Bobby sadly shook his head.

Dean stared at Bobby. A single tear rolling down his cheek.

"Son, I don't think he's…"

"Nooooooooo!" Dean's scream echoed through the night, cutting Bobby off as he went straight back to forcing Sam's heart to thump.

Bobby's eyes filled with tears and his body went stiff with anger. This was not happening. Sam had saved his life tonight. Sam was not going to lose his. Not for him. Not for a damn hat. "Boy! I said breathe." Bobby back handed Sam's cheek.

Completely stunned, Dean stopped doing CPR.

Sam's lifeless head only rocked to one side and stayed there.

"Stop wastin' my time, boy! I told ya - breathe!" Bobby backhanded the other cheek. Hard enough to leave finger marks on Sam's discolored skin. "I'll keep at it, kid," he threatened violently. "Now breathe, Sam." Again another slap. "Sam!" Slap. "Breathe." Slap. "Damn, idjit!" Slap.

Dean cringed at the sound of skin hitting skin.

"Not for me. Not on my watch." Bobby went back to Sam's mouth again, but before he could suck in a breath he froze.

Sam's eyes fluttered open then fell closed, back arching upward off the ground. "Guh," he gagged, a gush of water spouting from his mouth.

"Roll him," Bobby ordered Dean frantically.

Quickly Dean and Bobby got Sam to his side as more water gurgled in the back of his throat.

"It's okay, Sammy. It's okay," Dean called to his brother.

Sam violently coughed and heaved, splattering water and bile and mucous to the muddy ground.

"That's it. That's right." Bobby and Dean both chimed, holding Sam down as he bucked and gagged.

"Ung," Sam vomited whole bodily. Shoulders hunching, legs twitching, arms curling in toward his chest. "Nuuu. Uhhhh."

"Easy. Easy." Dean continued to hold Sam in place on his side. "I thought you quit on us, Sammy. I thought you quit on us," Dean panted, rubbing Sam's back as the boy continued to gag up water. "I thought you were dead. Don't ever do that again. Don't you ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. Do that again," he ranted aimlessly.

"Good job, Sam. Good job," Bobby was a sweaty, quivering wreck as he sat back on his hunches, handing the reins back over to Dean.

Dean pulled Sam into an embrace, supporting his wobbly head and wrapping his arms around Sam tighter than he ever thought possible.

Sam stared up at Dean. Shaky, weak and shivering. His hair longer when wet, stretched down over his face and poked him in the eyes.

Bobby gave Dean a quick look. "Thank God."

"De," Sam hacked and coughed but no water came up this time.

"Don't let the boy talk," Bobby said, shakily getting to his feet.

Dean eased Sam up higher into his arms, smoothing back Sam's hair. "No talking Sam. Only nodding. Once for yes. Twice for no. Got it?"

Sam shut his eyes sucking in desperate breaths and nodded once.

Dean frowned at Sam's chest, that stuttered up and down under his soaking wet tee-shirt.

"Sammy? It getting any easier to breathe yet?" Dean asked, just barely keeping his composure

Sam nodded once. Little bit.

"That's my boy. You're doing great."

Sam pressed his lips together and shivered, nodding twice. Cold.

"Crap, pal." So worried about making sure the kid was breathing he forgot the kid was freezing. Dean urgently shrugged his arms out of his jacket and covered Sam. "Gotta get you warmed up," he absently muttered, still rattled down to his toes with fear. " Then get you to a hospital," Dean added, tucking the jacket tightly around Sam.

Sam's eyes snapped open. "Nuuu," he choked up a bit more water.

"Dude, you're going," Dean said, using his best parental tone.

Sam slowly turned to Bobby; head shaking no, puppy eyes begging please.

"Bro, you almost died," Dean ranted. "That wrapped-around-the-finger act will only work when hell freezes and pigs fly, right, Bobby." Dean confidently glanced at Bobby, then swore under his breath.

Bobby looked powerless. Vulnerable. His teeth sunk deeply into his lower lip. Eyes misty. Gawking at Sam as if the boy was the second coming. Man was putty. Damn, his baby brother had powers.

"Right, Bobby?" Dean snuffed with anger.

Bobby didn't replay, just readjusted his hat and swallowed down hard.

Hell froze down below and pigs flew high in the sky.

"Son of a bitch," Dean cursed. "Bobby!" he snapped.

Bobby shook his head. "Huh? What?" His gaze wandering from Sam's to Dean's.

"Dude." Dean frowned down at Sam. "Knock that crap off."

Sam coughed weakly.

Bobby gave a quick glance to Sam , then back to Dean's worried face. "Got a better place for the kid. Real nice."

"Uh!" Dean slapped a frustrated hand to his forehead. "You know he's manipulating you don't you, Bobby? Been doing it since he was a baby. It's how he got free milkshakes, pies, and all the game tokens he wanted at the Arcades. Free anything. Hell, it's how he got dad to give in. Let him do shit he never would let me do when I was Sam's age."

Sam coughed, a sweet, dumb 'how could you say that about me' look on his angelic face.

"Daddy's little princess," Dean taunted.

"Dean!" Bobby berated. "The boy saved-" Bobby paused. "He saved my hat. He's the hero of the day. He don't want the hospital. He don't get the hospital." Bobby stormed off growling over his shoulder. "Bringing the car close as I can. Then we'll take Sam some place warm and safe. Nice. Be back in two giffy's." Bobby disappeared into the trees.

"You know what two giffy's are?" Dean looked down at Sam.

Sam nodded twice. No.

A cold breeze whisked the leaves about bringing the smell of damp dirt and mushrooms. Dean's nerves were shot. Fear still whisking through his body. Two giffy's sure sounded fast, but wasn't fast enough. He needed a distraction. To think of something else besides how he almost lost his brother, partner, and best friend.

"Sammy, Sammy, Sammy." Dean ran a hand down over his face. "Why can't you seduce the hot chicks like you just did Bobby?"

Sam eyes sluggishly appeared, then disappeared behind closed lids with an exasperated sigh.

"Bro. Can't avoid the subject forever." Without jarring him too much, Dean eased Sam up against his chest. Wrapping both arms around him, and pulling him closer. "Try to stay awake."

Sam melted into Dean. Shaking with cold and weariness.

"You hanging in, Sam?"

Sam shivered hard, giving one wobbly nod. Hanging.

Dean looked up from Sam. "What's taking Bobby so long? You think maybe he's going to cook this thing up right here. Steak on the lake?"

Sam shifted his gaze to look at the beast and nodded twice. No. Gross.

"Remember when dad took us camping for the first time?"

Sam scoffed, ducking his head under Dean's chin. Yes.

"I know. How could we forget?" Dean uttered with a tad of fondness in his voice. "Was like boot camp. Cooking, cleaning, filtering the water, hanging the food-pack, lowering the food-pack, swatting mosquitoes, freezing our ass off, eating off the land. Dude, I couldn't poop for three days, hate camping."

Sam took in several short breaths and rolled his head to look up at Dean. "Agree-agreed," he stuttered, followed by a wet bout of coughing.

"Don't talk. You'll get me in trouble." Dean cracked a small smile.

The rumble of a missing engine, distracted Dean. He swiveled his head, squinting against the headlights The massive shadow -Bobby's car - prowled slowly along, tires trampling the wet, muddy grass until the car came to a stop only feet from them. "About damn time," Dean grouched at Bobby as he exited. "Two giffy's is forever."

"You boy's ready?" Bobby opened the back door and headed their way looking a lot older than when they first arrived.

Dean glanced down, intensely zoning in on Sam. "You up to moving, brother?"

Sam summoned all that was left of his strength, grabbing a handful of Dean's jacket.

"Here we go." Dean tugged him upward, snatching his leather before it could fall and draping it around Sam's shoulders.

Sam swayed, everything turning fog-white as the earth shifted under his feet, dumping him upside down.

"Uhhh," Sam moaned, weak fingers losing their grip on Dean at the same time his knees gave out.

"Yikes." Dean grappled for Sam managing only to grasp hold of one arm, his brother twenty pounds heavier soaking weight dragging them both down.

Whoa, Nelly!" Bobby shot out a hand at utmost speed and grasped Sam's other arm hauling him up between them. "No going down for the count again, kid. This old heart won't take it."

"Dude." Dean ducked to peer into Sam's face. "Where you think you're going, huh?"

"C-car," Sam slurred, blinking to clear the fog.

"Car, then the hospital." Dean said insistently, eyes on Bobby.

"N-noo." Sam struggled, jostling his head until he caught Bobby's eye. "Hos-hos-hos," Sam coughed, "…spital…"

Sam hated hospitals. Hospitals were cold, white-on- white, stainless steel, antiseptic, lick shit off the clean, shiny floor places. A place where Dr. Frankenstein's hung out. A place people died. People like his dad. Creeping around a hospital in search of evidence for a job was one thing. Being bed-ridden yourself, another. No way Sam was going to any hospital. He's entire body reflecting that need shuddering and tense and eyes wide in horror.

"Plea…" he scrunched closer to Bobby.

Bobby smiled reassuringly at Sam, somehow understanding. " No hospital… means no hospital."

Sam relaxed, body limp and shapeless, suspended between Bobby and Dean.

"Where we taking him than, Bobby?" Dean commanded.

"One of those fancy girly spas where they do your toes," Bobby grumbled sarcastically. "Stop your whining, Dean, and help me get muscle-bond beach boy into my car."

Dean and Bobby wrangled Sam the few feet to the car. Sam's head jostling to and fro, body boneless as if he had no arms or legs.

"Crap, Sam." Taking the jacket from around Sam's shoulders, Dean tossed it into the car. "Just let me do all the work," he said, maneuvering behind Sam, strong arms encircled him. "Here we go." Dean ducked, backing into the car and dragging Sam with him.

Bobby picked up Sam's legs and followed as Dean wiggled, inching along, their wet clothes sticking to the seat and slowing them down.

Finally inside, Dean leaned against the back passenger door, panting as he pulled Sam up against him so his long legs didn't stick out.

"Kid's a moose." Bobby gently adjusted Sam's muddy, socked feet, cramming the kid the rest of the way into the car.

Sam winced. "No …spital." His head flopped onto Dean's shoulder, body tensing hard with the shivers as he fought a coughing fit.

"Yeah, yeah, Sammy. Shut it already. I get it." Dean splayed a hand over Sam's chest, fingers kneading gently as he glanced around. Bobby's backseat was filled with beer cans, books, magazines, empty food-crusted Chinese takeout. Man had a warehouse of everything in his car, including a corroded kitchen sink faucet - but no blanket.

Dean glanced out the back windshield, seeing nothing but shadowy trees swaying in the wind. "Bobby!"

The trunk popped open blocking Dean's view. "On it, ya idjit," came Bobby's muffled bark.

Sam cleared his throat, arching his back a little against the pain.

"Let's get out of these wet clothes." Dean worked as caringly as he could to peel Sam out of his blood and lake sodden shirt.

Sam squirmed shyly, carelessly trying to sit up. "Can do." His voice scratchy.

"Sam, you're weaker than Superman chowing down on cupcakes laced with kryptonite."

Sam batted a shaky hand at Dean, the action sending him full-tilt toward the floorboards.

Dude, don't be such a bitch." Dean easily hauled Sam back under control. "Been undressing you and dressing you since you were born."

Dean finally removed the shirt, and tossed it to the floorboards, exposing Sam's goose pimpled bare skin.

"D-Dean," Sam chattered, shivering harder.

"Hang on, Sammy, Going to get you warmed up." Dean's fingers rubbed over Sam's cold chest in a lame attempt to stop his brother from quaking so hard.

The driver side door squeaked open. "Here." Bobby tossed several heavy army blankets over the seat at Dean's face. "Get that boy warm," he said, sliding in. He quickly started up the engine and flipped on the heat.

"You need new spark plugs," Dean noted absently.

"No kidding," Bobby growled. "You boys give me a minute to grill that fish, then we go." Bobby, exited the car, clicking the door shut gently behind him.

Dean gathered up the thick blankets, and with a hand to Sam's back pushed him to sitting straighter. "Can you hold it right there a minute, Sammy?"

Sam nodded, body stiff and trembling. "Yeah." He sucked air in and out so fast his ribs stuck out.

Dean worked as fast as he could in the small confines of the backseat. Wiggling and fussing, he removed his own wet tee shirt, then unfolded one blanket and lay the cover across his bare chest in a diamond shape.

"You…you…sure you're warm…warm enough n-now, Dee?" Sam shot back, teeth clanking a mile a minute, arms crossed protectively around his chest.

"Shut up you big baby, and lean back against me." Dean took Sam by the shoulders and helped guide Sam to the blanket.

With Sam's head tucked against one shoulder, Dean folded the top corners over his brother, then brought the bottom corners up, swaddling Sam snuggly as a newborn.

"Better, pal?"

Sam's shivering turned to twitching. "Mmmmm," he gave a low, satisfied whimper.

"Good. Pants next." Dean bent forward and reached for Sam's belt buckle.

"Wha? No," Sam grunted, wiggling in his cocoon in protest, but unable to free his hands.

"Like seriously, get over yourself, Francis."

"Y' suck," Sam murmured, but allowed Dean to manhandle him.

Dean deftly undid Sam's belt buckle. "Don't be weird about this." Dean began to tug Sam out of his wet denims. "We're both dudes."

"So." Sam winced slightly.

"So, Dean continued, "This is not a competition." Dean wormed Sam's wet, mud and grass and blood stained jeans downward. "We all know who the bigger man is here, anyway. Would you feel better if I pretended you were a dudette?"

"Bite me," Sam muttered, cringing uncomfortably.

"Last thing on my mind," Dean deadpanned. Finally separating Sam from his Jeans, he wrapped another cotton wool blanket around Sam's lower half. "There, see, you're warmer now. Not shivering as much," Dean announced, arms surrounding Sam, holding him close.

Sam breathed out sleepily. "Still weird." He blinked up at Dean, eyes crossing out of focus.

The car door suddenly opened and Bobby slid in behind the wheel quickly peering over the back seat. He stared a moment, then just smiled. "You two sweethearts cozy enough?" Bobby snickered in an accusing tone.

Dean grumbled.

Sam gave a nod, then yawned, head lolling into the crook of Dean's neck.

"Sammy?" Dean questioned worriedly.

"Kid's totally exhausted and totally out," Bobby observed.

"Yeah, and Sam needs a hospital, damnit!" Dean snipped, looking really mad.

"Hold your piss and vinegar, boy." Bobby shifted, squinty eyes zooming in on Dean. "Of course he does."

"But you said…"

"What does your dummy-self take me for, Dean?" Bobby squawked. "Just told the stubborn ass that so he'd relax. Reversed psychology crap" He glanced back at Sam and Dean wedged together and cocooned in blankets. "Read it Woman's World Magazine."

"That where you read Bert and Ernie were brothers, too?" Dean questioned unbelieving.

"Bite me, Dean."

"Yeah, think I'll pass on that. You and Sam should get together." Dean settled back, fingers stroking Sam's pale, damp cheek. "Sorry, Sammy."

"Idjits." Bobby rolled his eyes, heading them away from the lake.



Sam's face pinched into a frown. Man he felt beat up. Hot and cold. Sleepy and limp and weak. Little white bugs prickled his hands and feet and an empty buzzing noise filled his head.

The buzzing, he came to realize, were voices. Someone was talking to him. No - not to him - about him.

"He's been drifting in and out for twenty-four hours now."

"Sammy's going to be smokin'… you didn't make good on your deal."

"Yeah, well, kid's fever kept going too high. Not my fault. Feisty Princess sure the hell put up a good fight when he saw us pull up to those double glass automatic doors."

Sam's eyes shifted under closed lids, eager to open them and see who the voices belonged to as they sounded familiar. The standard questions crept up. Who? Where? When? Why? How much had he had to drink? Maybe if he just lay still and listen a little while longer he'd figure things out.

"You know he's not going to be happy."

"Pretty things peeping in and out of here all day long. Fussing over him. Who wouldn't be happy about that? Lord knows you're in your glory," came the grizzled response.

Sam's eyes slowly lifted to slits. A double whammy of dizziness hit him hard. What was he looking at? White ceiling? Or could be a white floor. Slowly, Sam worked his aching head to one side, gazing out a window, steady rain beating against the glass. Everything was watery. Gray and shadowy. Two figures looking like charcoal drawings sat upright in chairs off to one side. He turned his head back. Okay, so ceiling.

"Unghhh," Sam moaned, body stiff and achy, eyes falling shut.

"Hey, hey, hey." Heavy leather boots scuffed hard and fast across a squeaky clean floor. "Open your eyes, man." Coffee breath fanned warm across his face. "Sam?"

There came a nervous moment. A mindless sensation where Sam had to let the voice and the name filter and register in his wavering brain.

"Eh." Sam moved his eyes under closed lids, trying to unglue his lashes that seemed to stick to his skin.

"I know you can try harder than that," the voice challenged.

Sam tried again, harder this time, and his eyes opened to squinting. One of the charcoal drawings had decided to join him. Hovering over his face right up close in her personal space "You know where you are? Right?"

"Um, uh, uh…" Sam swallowed heavily.

"'Course he knows." The other charcoal drawing still sitting in the chair, decided to spring forward. "Your brother ain't dumb." The drawing came to stand next to the other. "Don't need to be Perry Mason to figure things out."

"You mean Steve Perry."

"No idjit, I mean Perry Mason."

As the two shadow drawings discussed which Perry was which, Sam frantically blinked, his vision clearing. Dean. Bobby. Both staring down at him with goofy grins on their faces.

Sam searched the room, eyes landing on the closed door. He briefly considered bolting when a nurse in a skin tight, white skirt and blouse came in. Efficiently, she checked his pulse, his IV, then bent over to crank his bed sitting him up a bit. She smiled sweetly at Sam, flashed Dean and Bobby a wicked look, huffed, then sashayed out of the room. All without batting an eye or saying a word.

Sam blinked at Dean curiously.

"She's pissed 'cause we won't observe visiting hour rules," Dean explained to Sam. "Sammy, the hips don't lie," Dean stared at the door. "You may hate hospitals, man, but this one has the sexiest nurses around."

Sam nodded in understanding.

Bobby joined in. "Sorry to be a party killer, kid, but you weren't doing so good. Had no choice but to bring you here. You understand?"

Sam nodded.

"We going to start that again?" Dean laughed in amusement.

"Want to go," Sam muttered.

"Yeah, pal, when you're not Casper-white and can stand on your own two feet, and I land me a date with nurse huff-a-lot, we're so out of here. Okay?"

Sam gave a small nod, dropping off to asleep.

Dean smiled down at his sleeping brother.

"So you going after the skirt, now?" Bobby asked, moving to sit back in his chair.

Dean thought about that a moment. "Nah, not my type, he lied, shuffling tiredly back to his seat next to Bobby. "Tell me more about this Mason dude."

The 'blah' end.