Disclaimer: D0 not own Supernatural.
AU for S4 episode 21

Brothers, Always

Dean retreated upstairs when the verbal abuse got too much. Part of him knew it was the blood, that Sam didn't mean what he was saying but the larger part of him…. He shook his head and headed for the liquor cabinet, pouring himself a large glass of whisky, not wanting to piss Bobby off by drinking from the bottle. He slumped down in a chair, wincing as Sam started screaming wordlessly. Bobby walked in and just stared at him, Dean was unable to meet his eyes.

"Dean! Dean please!" Sam screamed this time and Dean closed his eyes in pain, now that Sam wasn't hurling abuse at him for locking him in there it made it harder for him to stay away. He'd never stayed away when Sam needed him. But if he went down there would Sam just start screaming at him again? Was this just a ploy to get him to let Sam out?

"Dean…"

"Not now Bobby." He growled, taking another drink. They both winced as Sam screamed again.
"How long is this gonna go on?" Dean asked, knuckles white from how tightly he was gripping the glass

"Here, let me look it up in my demon-detox manual. Oh wait. No one ever wrote one. No telling how long it'll take. Hell, or if Sam will even live through it." Bobby told him just as the phone rang. Bobby sighed but picked it up, listening to the person for a few seconds.
"Hello. ...Suck dirt and die, Rufus. You call me again, I'll kill you."

"What's up with Rufus?"

"He knows." Bobby told him, picking the phone up as it rang again.
"I'm busy, you son of a bitch. This better be important."

Dean looked over at Bobby and then got up, heading down the stairs since Sam seemed to have quieted. He opened the small grate in the door to look in, seeing Sam slumped on the cot.

"I'm losing my mind." Sam suddenly said and Dean winced at hearing the utter defeat and exhaustion in Sam's voice.

"Sam?" He called out softly but Sam didn't react to his voice.

"What do you want?" Sam asked, still staring at the wall opposite him.

"Sam look at me." Dean called out but Sam didn't move and it was starting to worry Dean.

"I tried. I did. It didn't pan out that way. Sorry, kid." Sam whispered and Dean frowned, who was Sam talking too? There was no one in there with him.
"Look. They killed Jessica." As soon as Sam choked that out Dean was opening the door, closing it behind him as he slowly walked towards the cot.
"I know." Sam whispered, almost crying. Dean took a deep breath and put his hand on Sam's shoulder.

"Sam?" He called gently and Sam jumped, staring at him with wide, scared eyes.
"Easy Sam, it's me." Dean soothed, kneeling down to get a good look at Sam. The kid was a mess, eyes unfocused, sweat dripping down his face. The skin beneath Sam's thin t-shirt was way too hot.
"Sam can you hear me?" Dean asked and Sam frowned.

"Dean?" Sam whispered and the longing and desperation in Sam's voice pierced his heart.

"Yeah Sammy, I'm here. Scoot over." Dean said gently, moving to sit on the cot beside Sam.

"No, no, no. not real. Dean left, Dean hates me." Sam mumbled and Dean shut his eyes before wrapping his arms around the kid.

"I don't hate you Sam, you're my little brother. I'm pissed and scared that this is gonna…..it's really me Sam." Dean told him and Sam looked up at him, struggling to focus on him.
"That's it Sam, focus on me, I'm right here." Dean encouraged and trembling fingers came up to clutch at Dean's shirt.

"Dean. Don't leave me, please. Be good, promise." Sam whimpered and Dean hugged him.

"I'm not leaving Sam. Come on, lay down, try to get some sleep." Dean encouraged, trying to get Sam to lie down but the kid was stubborn.
"That's it, you need to try and sleep." Dean soothed and Sam stared up at him with wide, trusting eyes as Dean finally managed to get him laid out on the cot. Dean got up and Sam whimpered, clutching his sleeve.
"It's okay; I'm just getting you some water. Your throat must be sore kiddo." Dean told him and Sam slowly let go of his sleeve. Dean went over to the desk and poured out a glass of water. He supported Sam's head as the kid drank greedily. Sam pushed the glass away so Dean put it down and just pushed the sweat soaked hair off Sam's face.

"Don't leave." Sam pleaded and Dean sighed.

"Got to check in with Bobby but I'll come straight back, okay? Just hang on Sam." Dean promised and Sam's eyes slid shut, his hand going slack. Startled, Dean checked his pulse, relived to find it fairly steady. Poor kid was exhausted and it would be better if he could sleep through at least part of the process. He left the room as quietly as he could and headed back up to where Bobby was waiting. Bobby tossed him a newspaper and Dean read the heading.

"The news. The news ain't good." Bobby told him and Dean stared at the paper.

"This is what Rufus called about? 'Key West sees ten species go extinct'."

"Yep. Plus Alaska. Fifteen-man fishing crew all stricken blind, cause unknown. New York, teacher goes postal, locks the door, kills exactly sixty-six kids. All this in a single day. I looked them up. There's no doubt about it. They're all seals. Breaking. Fast." Bobby explained and Dean looked up at him.

"How many are left?"

"Who knows? Can't be many. Where the hell are your angel pals?" The older hunter demanded and Dean shrugged.

"You tell me."

"I'm just wondering." Bobby started and Dean frowned.

"What?"

"The apocalypse being nigh and all...is now really the best time to be having this little domestic drama of ours?" Bobby asked and Dean stiffened.

"What do you mean?" He snapped.

"Well, I don't like this any more than you do, but Sam can kill demons. He's got a shot at stopping Armageddon." Bobby pointed out and Dean balled his hands into fists.

"So what? Sacrifice Sam's life, his soul, for the greater good? Is that what you're saying? Times are bad, so let's use Sam as a nuclear warhead?" He growled out angrily.

"Look, I know you hate me for suggesting it. I hate me for suggesting it. I love that boy like a son. All I'm saying is maybe he's here right now instead of on the battlefield because we love him too much."

"Screw you Bobby. Sam is not a weapon! He's gonna get better and then we'll deal with all this." Dean spat, turning on his heel to head back to the panic room.

"And if it kills him?" Bobby demanded and Dean stiffened.

"It won't. I won't let it." Dean answered, practically running down the stairs. He went back into the panic room, happy to find Sam still sleeping. He grabbed a chair from the basement and carried it inside, sitting down beside the cot and taking Sam's limp, burning hand in his.
"It's okay Sam, you're gonna be okay." Dean whispered and hazel eyes flickered open.
"Sorry, didn't mean to wake you, go back to sleep." Dean soothed and Sam moaned.

"Mom." Sam called deliriously and Dean closed his eyes.

"Sam there's no one else here. Just me and you. You have to try and ignore anything else. Come on Sam, answer me please."

"Let's hear it. Go ahead." Sam mumbled, eyes fever bright as he stared at something Dean couldn't see.
"You're disappointed. You never thought I'd turn out this way. I'm a piss-poor excuse for a son. Your heart is broken. Am I close?" Sam asked, head lolling on the tiny pillow. Dean reached over to cup his face, turning Sam towards him.

"Sam listen to me. Mom is dead, she's not here. Answer me Sammy!" Dean called, trying to snap Sam out of it but his eyes were still on an empty part of the room.

"But—but Dean—" Sam mumbled brokenly.

"Sam? Can you hear me?" He asked, hoping Sam had heard him but there was no response.

"For revenge?" Sam asked his hallucination.
"What's in me, Mom, it's—" Dean gave up trying to reach Sam with his voice and gently tugged the kid into his arms.
"What if it's stronger than me? Look at me. What if Dean's right?" Sam asked and Dean buried his head in Sam's shoulder.

"I'm sorry Sammy, so sorry." He choked.

"Even if it kills me." Sam whispered forlornly.

"No Sam, you are not going to die!" Dean almost yelled and then he saw as hazel eyes slowly focused.

"De…." Sam slurred and Dean nodded.

"I'm here, I've got you. You've been hallucinating kiddo. You're gonna get through this, you hear me? You're stronger than this and you're gonna be fine." Dean told him and Sam smiled slightly.

"Dean…..not send me away?" Sam mumbled and Dean shook his head.

"No Sam, it's you and me, always little brother. I'm sorry for so much. I should have…..I should have tried to help you more, instead of pushing you away, hitting you. I was scared, I came back and you were so different. I just wanted my little brother back." Dean told him and Sam reached up to close a shaking hand around Dean's shoulder.

"Want….be him 'gain. Help me Dean." Sam cried and Dean nodded.

"Always Sam, we'll get that crap out of your system and you can rest up for as long as you need. Then we'll hit the road, just the two of us. We can go see the Grand Canyon, that silly ball of string you always wanted to see, anything you want." Dean promised and Sam smiled at him before his eyes slid shut again. Dean caught Sam's hand as it fell, entwining their fingers to let Sam know he was still there. He was more than happy that Sam wanted his help, that he wanted to be who he used to be. For once Dean didn't care about the chick flick moment they seemed stuck in because Sam had asked for help for the first time since Dean had come back. His baby brother still needed and wanted him. As long as Sam needed him the rest of the world could burn, he was not leaving Sam behind.

"How's it going?" Bobby called and Dean looked up to see him looking through the grate.

"He's sleeping again. Got some ice and cloths? Kid's burning up, keeps hallucinating and I don't know if it's the fever or the blood."

"Sure, need anything else?"

"I could use some food." Dean admitted and Bobby nodded. The hunter smiled all the way up the stairs to get what Dean had asked for. When Dean had just left Sam alone down there…..he'd been so mad at Dean for abandoning Sam to the detox. He didn't know what had happened to make Dean change his mind and decide to stick with Sam but he was grateful it had happened. Those two needed each other more than what was probably healthy. Without the knowledge that Dean was with him Bobby had been worried Sam would just let himself die but he wasn't worried about that anymore, no way would Dean let Sam just give up.
"Bobby!" Dean's scream had him running back down the stairs to find Dean pinning a convulsing Sam to the cot.
"He's seizing!" Dean yelled and Bobby slammed the door open, moving to help Dean. He ripped his belt off and shoved it into Sam's mouth, worried he'd swallow his tongue, or bit right through it.

"We're gonna have to tie him down for his own safety. Dean? You with me? Dean! Before he has another fit." Bobby told him once Sam had gone limp on the cot and Dean just stared down at his brother, reaching out with a shaky hand to pry the belt from between his teeth.

"Yeah, yeah. Let's just get it over with." Dean mumbled and Bobby went to get the chains, padding them with an old, torn up shirt.

"I'll go get that ice, you okay with him?" Bobby asked and Dean nodded absently so Bobby left.

"You really scared me there kiddo. You have to be okay, please Sam." Dean whispered, sitting back in his chair. He sat for what felt like hours until Bobby came back with ice, cloths and a few sandwiches. Dean took them and began wiping Sam down, trying to break his fever. Bobby watched for a few minutes before leaving, knowing his help wasn't wanted or needed at the moment. Dean easily fell into the rhythm of cooling Sam down and then sleeping a little in the chair before wiping Sam down again, not noticing how much time was passing.

"Dean?" Sam's hoarse voice woke him from his light nap and he blinked before smiling at Sam's whose eyes were a lot clearer and far more alert. He sat up and Sam tried to follow, only to be stopped by the chains.
"Dean?" This time the question was panicked and Dean gently held Sam still.

"It's okay Sammy, I'm here. I'm sorry but….the blood it….we had to do it for your own safety. If nothing happens for a few more hours we'll take them off, okay? You need anything?" Dean asked, running his fingers through Sam's hair like he had when Sam was a kid, knowing it would help calm him down.

"Thirsty." Sam answered and Dean nodded.

"You've had a fever so that's no surprise." Dean told him, getting up to fill the glass. He held it to Sam's lips and the kid drank eagerly. He wondered how long it'd take Sam to realise why he didn't need the bathroom but Dean wasn't going to point it out, not when Sam was so sick. He'd just have to shower first thing once he was well enough to go upstairs.

"You stayed?" Sam whispered, voice a little stronger thanks to the water and Dean nodded.

"I told you Sammy, I'm not leaving you ever again." Dean answered and Sam smiled at him before dozing off again. Dean finally picked up one of the sandwiches Bobby had left him and ate it while he watched Sam sleep. He had to be getting better now, his fever was down if not totally gone and he'd been a lot more coherent than he had been since it had started.

When Bobby peeked in again he smiled at the sight of Dean slumped forward, asleep on the chair, but half sprawled on Sam's chest. Sam seemed to be sleeping peacefully as well, probably due to Dean's presence. He headed back upstairs, deciding to let them sleep. When the chains opened themselves and then the door opened, neither brother stirred, too exhausted and safe feeling to wake up.

When Dean did wake up several hours later he assumed Bobby had snuck in and unchained Sam since he hadn't seized again. So he removed the chains from the cot and gently massaged Sam's wrists and ankles. Sam murmured sleepily and then opened his eyes, smiling groggily at Dean who smiled back.

"How're you feeling?" Dean asked and Sam thought about it.

"Hungry." He answered, sounding surprised and Dean grinned, happy that Sam's appetite was back, that really had to be a good sign. Sam was weak as a kitten so Dean supported him, tearing the sandwich into bite sized pieces for him to eat. Once he was done Sam fell asleep again and Dean left the room, closing the door behind him to go see what Bobby was up to.

"Thanks for undoing the chains while we slept." Dean told him and Bobby's wide eyes had them both rushing back down only to relax when they saw Sam still sleeping on the cot.
"If you didn't and I didn't then who?" Dean whispered, finally noticing the broken devils traps.

"Demons maybe…..good thing you stayed with him." Bobby answered and Dean nodded. If he hadn't stayed, if Sam had still been delirious….he could be miles away by now.
"I'm gonna strengthen the wards." Bobby told him.
"When Sam wakes up, if you think he's okay then get him upstairs, I can smell him from here." Bobby said and Dean laughed but nodded.

Dean was sitting in his chair when Sam woke up again, reaching out to Dean as soon as he saw him. Dean took his hand, squeezing it gently and Sam settled instantly.

"Morning sunshine." Dean teased and Sam smiled at him, a smile Dean hadn't seen in over a year.
"Feel like going upstairs?" He asked and Sam's eyes widened.

"I don't have to stay down here?" Sam whispered and Dean shook his head.

"If you think the worst is over then the rest can be handled form a nice soft bed. Though a shower is needed first cause I hate to tell you Sammy but you reek." Dean teased and Sam laughed softly.

"Sounds good." He admitted and Dean nodded, standing up.

"Then let's get you out of here." He reached down and Sam clung to him as they got him standing. Sam was too weak to stand alone so Dean half carried him up the stairs, both resting in the kitchen for a few minutes before attempting the next set of stairs. Sam looked around, wincing at the sun light coming in through the windows.

"How long?" He asked and Dean shrugged.

"Couple of days I guess, wasn't exactly keeping a close eye on my watch." Dean answered as they tackled the final set of stairs. Sam was half asleep but Dean still got him into the shower, having to wash Sam himself like had had down when Sam was a baby. Then he got him into clean sweats before tucking him into the bed. Sam hummed sleepily, reaching out to hold onto Dean's hand before drifting into a deeper sleep. Figuring he needed sleep too Dean crawled in beside him, placing himself between Sam and the door like he always had.

When Bobby got back from checking the yard he grinned at the sight of two heads on one pillow, Sam practically laying on top of Dean in an effort to stay close to his big brother. He closed the door and went back downstairs, settling in with his shotgun close at hand, no one was gonna get to those two while they were in his house.

The End.