Will to Live
K Hanna Korossy

The moment he saw the ghost, Dean knew this had been a bad idea.

Sam had been doing better lately, really. It'd been a rough couple of months since he'd buried his girlfriend and hit the road with Dean again, but Sam really seemed to be pulling out of it. The nightmares were just many nights now instead of all of them, he was finally eating some of the food he pushed around on his plate, and he actually laughed sometimes. Usually at Dean's expense, but he was okay with that. Totally worth it to see Sam start overcoming his grief.

Then January twenty-fourth had come along. Dean's birthday, but that didn't matter so much this year as the fact it was also Jessica's. And as if reminded of his loss, Sam had sunk right back into his hole.

Dean's cure-all for—okay, maybe more like way of not dealing with—bad things had always been hunting. Sammy's never had, but he'd been pretty gung ho since returning to the hunt, anxious for revenge on the thing that had killed Jessica. So when word of this case came along, a textbook haunted house, Dean had leaped at the chance to channel his brother's destructiveness into something other than himself.

And it had been fine at first. Sam had perked up a little as soon as they had walked into the local library and the smell of paper and ink hit them. They'd found their culprit easily enough, a thirty-one-year-old by the name of Louise Stentstrom who had disappeared into the woods by her home and never been seen again. No picture—it had happened over sixty years ago—but the tie to the house, the fact that it was her former beloved garden that had been torn up by recent renovation, the small nuisances that started in the Fifties and had recently escalated into dangerous violence, all shored up the case for it being Louise. The next step had been going to the house and looking for clues as to where she might have gone.

The EMF meter went off just a second before Louise appeared not a foot away from Sam. She was transparent, skin blue from the cold that had probably killed her, and her face was contorted with rage. Dean had instantly turned his shotgun on her, but Sam…Sam had frozen.

That was when Dean got it. He knew what his brother was seeing: Louise had long, curly blonde hair, a tall, athletic figure, and full lips and an oval face…just like Jessica. Dean had hardly known the girl and even he picked up on the resemblance.

Sam and Louise stared at each other for a long few moments. The only reason Dean didn't instantly shoot her full of rock salt was because she didn't make a move, expression emptying of anger, seemingly as struck by Sam as he was by her. And the last thing the kid needed was to see a Jessica look-alike blasted away. But her lack of violence made Dean almost as uneasy as if she'd attacked because Sam…Sam looked like he'd been hit by a two-by-four.

This was a mistake. Sam was still shaky and sleep-deprived and fragile, and he was here to flambé a woman whose only sin had been dying young. Dean should have known that would push buttons even before he'd gotten a glimpse of her, but seeing her now, and Sam's reaction, just confirmed how very badly Dean had messed this up.

"Sam…" he murmured.

Louise, to Dean's real surprise, shaped her lips around the same name. She didn't say it, but the word was clear to Dean. As well as, he saw, to Sam, who was run through by a hard shiver.

Dean reached into his pocket for the packet of salt he kept close at all times. Maybe he couldn't shoot her, but he wasn't gonna let her mess with Sam's head any longer.

That was the moment Louise suddenly turned…and started running.

Ghosts weren't supposed to run. They could do that flickering in and out thing, magically teleport to wherever they wanted, so they didn't need to run. It wasn't even like she was touching the floor, her feet hitting a few inches above the hardwood. But Louise was definitely running.

She wasn't alone.

"Sam!" Dean shouted, startled, as his brother pounded down the steps after the fleeing ghost. But by then the door was already swinging open and Sam had disappeared out into the night.

The Montana night. In January. Without his coat on.

Swearing, Dean pelted down the stairs after him, pausing at the bottom to scoop up the two parkas they'd shed upon entering the house. The weapons bag was on Sam's should— Correction, the weapons bag was discarded on the front porch, and Dean grabbed that, too. Then he kept going, following the single trail of footprints in the snow and the flicker of his brother's olive-green shirt among the dark green of the forest.

The forest Louise had most likely died in. Awesome.

Dean kept cursing as he went, yanking his jacket on, then digging awkwardly in the bag to get out the can of red spray paint. The snow and footprints were sporadic in the woods, and Dean wanted to make sure they found their way back out again even if Sam wasn't concerned with that. Dean marked trees while barely slowing his pace.

Such a massively, spectacularly screwed-up idea. He should've handcuffed Sam to him, seriously. Or better yet, tied him to his bed back in their sparse but warm motel room. Or, hey, maybe even taken him drinking, let him get well and truly baked to try to get over this latest funk. 'Cause this was in no way, shape, or form better.

And that was before he lost Sam's trail in the deepening gloom.

"This is so messed up," Dean whispered to himself as he broke out the flashlight.

The moon was full, but its glow was mostly obscured by the dense branches above. Sam had no light with him, but there was no evidence anywhere Dean looked of a collision with a tree or a sprawl over a root. Louise was probably giving Sam both light and direction, which was just peachy for him. Dean, not so much.

Especially when an hour passed and still there was no sign of Sam.

"Anytime now, man," Dean growled, but he was progressively more afraid than frustrated. Okay, on the one hand, Sammy was running. That would keep him warm. As would adrenaline and desperation. On the other…it was cold. While the trees cut the wind, they also added shadow to shade, and Dean doubted it got very warm there even in July, let alone the dead of winter. His face felt numb where it wasn't covered by the parka, and Sam only had…three layers on? Dean was pretty sure. But none of them were that thick, and they sure as anything weren't meant for outside play in a northern winter night. Not to mention that it was quite possible Sam wasn't running anymore, and sitting down outside, sweaty and unbundled, would be a really fast way to go hypothermic.

Dean swore under his breath and kept going, flashlight swinging in wide arcs as he tried to pick up the trail again, only the occasional broken branch or scuffed undergrowth giving him any sign he was on the right path.

It was almost another hour later, one and three-quarter hours since Sam's great escape, when Dean literally stumbled over his brother.

Sam was kneeling on the ground, curled forward. It almost looked like he was praying except that neither of them were exactly the praying kind. More likely survival instinct had finally, finally kicked in and drawn him into a nearly fetal position to try to keep himself warm.

That implied a warmth to preserve, however. And there was none in the hands that Dean grabbed and held between his own.

"Sam? Sammy?" He'd gone down to his own knees to see into the kid's face. Sam was barely trembling, but he was rocking faintly, eyes fixed on the ground. Mumbling to himself in what Dean would have chalked up to cold-induced delirium if he wouldn't have caught the words when he leaned in.

"Coulda…coulda saved…her. Saved. Coulda…saved her…"

Dean looked down and flinched when he saw a knob of bone sticking out of forest debris. His heart sank a little lower. Like he'd figured, Louise had found a kindred spirit and wanted to lead Sam to her remains. Not all spirits were vengeful; some just desired peace. Dean didn't even know if Sam was talking about Louise or Jessica, but the answer was the same. "Yeah, I don't think so, kiddo, sorry." He resisted the temptation to rub Sam's hands, not wanting to get them warm only to let them freeze again. Dean reached out to cup his face though and lift it, bracing himself for the devastation that had lived there the last two-plus months.

Sam's skin was chilled stone under Dean's fingers. His lips were blue, his cheeks ashen, and his hair was stiff with ice. But it was his blank eyes that were the most alarming. Whether from the cold or emotion or a combination of the two, Sam Winchester had left the building. And Dean kinda doubted anything he could do there would bring him back.

"Come on, man, gotta get you warmed up." The vacancy wouldn't stop him from treating Sam like he was still present and aware of Dean's every action as he worked to pull the parka over stiff limbs. "You wouldn't wanna give me some help here, would you?" Sam's lips kept moving, his eyes glassy. "Yeah, I didn't think so," Dean sighed, pulling the parka together in front and clumsily zipping it up.

Last time he'd done that, Sammy had been about five years old.

"Hey, Sam." They had a couple of chemical heat packs in the bag, and Dean activated both and stuck them down the front and back of Sam's parka. "What do you say we go someplace warm after this, huh? Maybe Arizona, or Texas."

Sam was leaning heavily forward against him now, blinking dully at nothing, his cheek frigid against the underside of Dean's jaw.

"Seriously, you're gonna make me do all the work here? Bitch."

No rejoinder as he got gloves and a ski hat on Sam. Dean pulled back just long enough to mark both the ground and the nearest tree with paint for whomever would follow his trail to burn the bones—Dean honestly didn't give a crap who or when at this point—then he was tugging Sam to his feet.

The kid continued to shiver only mildly. That wasn't a good sign, but Dean hadn't seen indication of serious frostbite, either. The odds were still on their side if he could get Sam out of there and warmed up fast enough. And the way out would be a lot more direct than the way in. If slower going, the way Sam was slumped against him.

"Okay, Sam, try to listen to me, okay?" Dean ducked down to see his face again, his unaware eyes. "I can't carry you all the way, so you're gonna have to help me. C'mon, get those clodhoppers moving."

Sam shuffled when prodded. It took both of Dean's arms around him to keep him from toppling over, and his head spent more time on Dean's shoulder than balanced upright on his wobbly neck. But he still stuttered and stumbled forward. Dean kept his hands tucked between them and talked about every stupid thing that crossed his mind just so Sam would hear his voice even if he didn't understand. But most importantly, they kept walking.

Until Sam finally stopped, swayed, then crumpled as if he'd fallen asleep mid-step.

"Crap." Dean grabbed for him, going down on one knee to have something to rest Sam's lanky weight against while he assessed his brother. "Sam? Hey."

But Sam was out. He was still panting, and his sluggish heart continued to pump his chilled blood. He'd just hit his limit. Thankfully, the trees had started to thin; they weren't quite as screwed as they could have been. Dean took his mercies where he could find them.

"Sure, make me do all the work," he grumbled, shifting the deadweight of a six-four limp beanpole up and then over his shoulder. He swore his knees popped as he struggled back to his feet, but then he was able to shift Sam more solidly into place, arms locked around the back of Sam's legs. "Dude, you've been living off, like, salads and yogurt—how'd you get to be so friggin' heavy?"

No answer. He hadn't been expecting one, but still. It sucked, feeling like he was on his own. Even since Sam was back with him, his brother was so often adrift that Dean still felt alone sometimes. Or, worse, alone but with the responsibility of his brother's well-being. Which sucked even more.

"This was supposed to be…to get you back in the saddle…dude," he puffed as he pushed on through the trees, toward the car. Something in the weapons bag was digging into his shoulder, but Dean didn't dare shift his stance any for fear of rolling Sam off the other side. "What were the chances of…Jessica's sister being the…ghost, huh? I mean…really?"

The tree line broke. The Impala glinted beautifully in the moonlight not fifty feet away. It felt like a football field's length.

"Where'd you think…you were goin'…anyway? Not like…ghosts ever lead you to…a stash of gold or moonshine or…a harem or…anything."

Sam was so boneless, flopping against Dean's back. Dean was tempted with every step to stop and check to make sure he was breathing, but he wouldn't be for long if Dean didn't get him warmed up. And the car was so close…

"Still thinkin' 'bout Jess…ica, huh? Guess you feel…pretty alone sometimes…too."

Dean didn't think he'd ever loved his car as much as he did the moment he reached it and was able to slide Sam off his shoulder and down against her side. Pressing Sam against the cold metal to keep him from going down to the ground, Dean jerked the passenger door open, then rolled his brother in. There was more room in the back seat, but it was farther from the vents and Dean's own body heat.

"'Kay, we're home free now, man. Hang in there." All of Sam finally inside the car, Dean quickly shut the door, then leaned against it tiredly for a second. "Crap," he mumbled, dragging a hand over his eyes. Then he pushed away and headed around to his side.

First order of business was turning the engine over and cranking the heat. Then Dean grabbed the blanket they had in the back and tucked it around Sam. His brother's icy face was crammed awkwardly into Dean's lap, and he stuck Sam's bared hands under his thigh.

"Shut up," Dean muttered, pro forma. As if Sam were about to complain.

And then they were roaring back to the motel where heat and lots of blankets and warm instant soup, and hope awaited. Because at that moment, with his very messed up brother wedged into the seat beside him, Dean was running low on the last.

00000

He'd finally gotten Sam warmed up around dawn. He had mild, treatable frostbite in six fingers and four toes, but hypothermia-wise, he was out of the woods. Literally.

Of course, things with Sam were never that easy.

Ninety-eight-point-six had just been a pit stop. Sam's temp had continued to rise, reaching impressive heights with barely a pause. Which, okay, wasn't a big surprise considering the stress his body had undergone. Add to that a massive sleep deficit and a diet that would leave a mouse hungry, and Dean would have been shocked if Sam didn't come down with something.

That didn't explain why Sam continued to worsen throughout the day. The anti-pyretics Dean ground up in Gatorade and got down Sam's throat, the compresses that dried seconds after he laid them on Sam's skin, the soaked towels Dean had set out around the room as makeshift humidifiers and the blankets he'd bribed out of the manager, none of them stopped the slow climb of the fever. Already Dean was contemplating an IV, and a trip to the hospital if that didn't help.

"Figures you would go all the way to the other extreme," Dean sighed as he rubbed a hand over his face. The cold and the fear, the hard walk back to the car, not to mention twenty-four hours of sleepless worry since then had taken their toll on him, too. But besides having some hot soup, he hadn't allowed himself a break, not while Sam was struggling. "You never did do things halfway, bro."

Sam's brow furrowed, face scrunching up like he was two and about to start wailing because he'd fallen down. It wasn't tears that followed, however, just the unintelligible mumble he'd developed a few hours before. Sometimes Dean caught a word: Jess, no, and saved seemed particular favorites. Otherwise it was just fretful sounds and listless movements, Sam's body and brain too exhausted for much else.

Dean breathed deep, pressing his gritty eyes shut as he leaned back in the chair. "Are you even trying? 'Cause, dude, I can't fight this one alone."

Because that was what he really feared. Sam had seemed so beaten down those last few days, so tired. There was only so much the body could fix if the spirit wasn't helping. And what did he really have to come back for? Revenge? A damaged and incomplete family? Greasy food and sheets that smelled of nicotine? Dean's face crumpled a little as he looked around the room with new eyes. Seriously, who would want to wake up to this?

He reached forward to knead the inside of Sam's elbow with his thumb, then slid down to his wrist. "Told you you can't keep this burning inside you, Sammy. It's gonna kill you." If Sam would just talk to him. But he had to get better first. Had to want to get better.

Sam whispered something before stilling. But as Dean watched, horrified, tears seeped out from under his brother's eyelashes and trailed down his flaming cheeks.

"Aw, crap." Dean leaned forward. A brush of Sam's forehead was enough to tell him the fever was climbing again. But the fact that Sam didn't even react to his touch scared him even more. Sam was growing immobile and silent, and as much as Dean had hated the painful mutterings, the way his brother was sinking was so much worse.

Dean stood and gnawed at the inside of his cheek a moment, staring at Sam. Then he started to strip down to his boxers because he knew he'd soon be roasting. But Dean didn't hesitate to climb in under the mound of covers on the bed or wrap himself around the oven that was his brother. He'd done exactly this a few hours before to warm the kid up; now, perversely, he kinda hoped it would reach Sam and help him cool down.

"You give me any grief about this and…" Actually, he would've loved to hear a snarky word from Sam just then. Dean grimaced and pulled him close, until Sam's hair was tickling his nose. "Don't do this, Sammy," he begged.

Sam wanted to hunt. He wanted to find Jessica's killer, and Dad. He wanted company. But it'd been a long time since he'd just wanted to be with Dean. And Dean wanted him to want.

For now, though, he'd settle for Sam coming back to life, because this…this absence? This was far scarier than any wendigo or spirit they faced.

Sam sighed Jessica's name again. More tears wet Dean's throat. It felt like surrender.

Guess you feel pretty alone sometimes, too…

Lying in the slowly passing night with his sick brother in his arms, Dean made a plan.

00000

Even through the deep haze of his senses, he could tell the delicate touch of his face belonged to a woman.

"Jess," Sam breathed. His throat tightened at the thought, but he couldn't think clearly enough to figure out why.

Something cool touched his lips. "Sait, Sammy, drupun." The words didn't make sense, and didn't sound like…Jess?

Confused, Sam pressed his head to the side.

The pillow was soft, smelling lightly of some flowery detergent. Probably whatever Jess had found on sale. A contented smile pulled at Sam's mouth.

"Nusuh?"

Cool and wet pressed to his lips again, and it was too enticing to resist. He opened his mouth to let some trickle in. It soothed his parched throat.

"Goob, Sammy. Slee ow."

"Jess?"

Dampness over his eyes now, the bridge of his nose. "M'ere."

It still didn't sound like her, but then the thought was gone. Warm covers were smoothed under his chin. He felt light and heavy at the same time, pulled upward, pressed down. The fingers that slid across his forehead, moving aside the sticky weight of his hair, were more coarse this time, clumsier, but still comforting.

It was warm and soft and felt like home. Sam sighed and sank back into sleep.

00000

Sam stared drowsily at the wall a long time before what he was seeing registered in his sleepy brain.

Baby-animal wallpaper and framed photographs of smiling people. No garish patterns in forty-year-old colors or generic landscapes.

Sam frowned, not sure yet why that was important.

Or why he felt so sore as he shifted in bed. Which wasn't all that unusual, honestly, especially not since… He squeezed his eyes shut again. Oh, yeah. Jess.

He gave himself a moment to feel it, then took a breath and pried his eyes back open to take a harder look at his surroundings.

It also wasn't unusual for him to wake in a room he didn't remember. The motels blurred together after a while, and they were often too exhausted or even injured to really register the place. Still, it was disconcerting that he didn't remember how he'd gotten there, because this was decidedly not a motel room.

A white dresser stood across the room, a vase full of flowers gracing its top along with more picture frames. The walls also seemed to be mostly pictures and the occasional colorful animal cutout, with an embroidered sampler to the left of the dresser. There was a window seat on the right, under a window with white, lacy curtains and a drawn shade. On either side of the window, squat bookshelves overflowed with colorful books and even brighter toys. It was obviously a kid's room, a young girl's. And on the plush pink rug between the window and the bed Sam was on…

Why was Dean sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag?

Sam turned sluggishly to his side, holding his breath when his head spun. Nothing actually seemed to be injured, although his hands and feet were sore, but his whole body generally ached, as if it had been through an ordeal. And…even though he knew better, it still seemed like Jess had been there. But that couldn't be, right?

The need was there, on the tip of his tongue, to wake Dean and ask him what the heck was going on because this was freaking him out. But taking a real look at the drawn, unshaven face turned toward him quickly stilled the desire. Whatever had happened had had Dean worried enough not to rest well.

Sam's eyes drooped and he pried them wide again. It had seemed… It must've been a vivid dream. It'd felt so real… He dragged in a wet breath.

"Sam?"

He should've felt bad that he'd woken Dean. But all Sam could feel was relief as his brother struggled out of the sleeping bag and onto his knees.

"Sammy?"

Jess had never called him that, and Sam hadn't let anyone at school do so. But it didn't bother him coming from Dean somehow. Even felt strangely comforting. "Yeah."

Dean's face twisted for a second into an expression Sam couldn't decipher. Then his brother was gripping his arm, hard. "Dude, don't you ever do that to me again."

He wanted to ask what he'd done, but Dean was already moving, first flipping back Sam's covers to rub his feet, of all things, then lifting each of his hands. Dean skimmed his forehead, and Sam's memory, but it was getting increasingly harder to think, let alone speak. "'Kay?" he yawned, figuring Dean would understand.

"Yeah, you're good." Dean had magically reappeared in front of him. "Everything's fine, Sam. You wanna get some more sleep?"

"Yeah, 'm…" He couldn't remember what. "Dean?"

"I'm here." His hand had been tucked back under the covers, but a palm pressed against his chest.

Jess had never done that, but it reminded him of her, of how safe and happy he'd felt with her. For once, the memory wasn't more than a dull pang.

He still didn't know who the woman had been, or why he was in a kid's room, and he should probably ask. But it was comfortable in a way motel rooms could never be, cozy and personal and warm, smelling of clean linen and strawberries and the flowers. It stormed his senses like an invaded castle.

Sam surrendered, letting himself be soothed into sleep. The last thing he was aware of was Dean still there next to him, the one thing he would have wanted to bring with him into a normal life.

00000

"There you go, sweetie. And there's plenty more where that came from, so you just ask." The woman—Mrs. Edwards—smiled at Sam as she settled the tray in his lap, then straightened up.

"Thank you," he said honestly, returning her smile before she walked out of the room, shutting the door behind her. She didn't look or sound a thing like Jess, but it felt nice to be around a woman again. Sam turned to Dean, who was sitting backwards on a chair by the bed, watching the interaction with a faint smile. "So that's…"

"Alice Edwards. They were staying at this lodge, couple years back, turned out to be haunted. The ghost lured her daughter away—ganked it just in time."

"You and…Dad?" Sam asked, picking up a piece of toast to nibble at one corner. His appetite was still wan, his strength even weaker. He hated to admit it, but the pillows Dean had stuffed behind his back were the only thing keeping him sitting up in bed.

Dean's expression closed. "Just me," he said simply.

Sam didn't ask; now was not the time. "So, you saved her little girl and she's, what, grateful?"

Dean rolled his eyes. "Dude, it's not like that. Alice is married—you'll meet Dave later. She just said if I ever needed anything…"

"Like her daughter's bedroom?" Sam said skeptically. The toast, or maybe his arm, had gotten too heavy and he dropped it back to the plate, leaning his head back against the pillows. "We run out of credit cards?"

Dean wiggled the chair closer and poked at the contents of Sam's plate before picking up a piece of bacon. Instead of popping it into his own mouth, though, he shoved it into Sam's, who was just surprised enough to let him. Dean was speaking before he could utter any protest. "They don't have a guest room." Realizing that wasn't an answer, Dean made a face and continued. "Look, you weren't…you weren't getting better at the motel. And, I get it, I do—you're used to a lot better than that. I just thought if you were in a, you know, real house, you might feel better." He crammed more bacon into Sam's mouth.

He hadn't really thought he was hungry, but the bacon tasted awfully good. That wasn't what Sam was thinking about, however, as he chewed and swallowed.

There was more going on here than Dean was saying. Like how they never took people they saved up on their generous, if heat-of-the-moment, offer of favors. Or how Dean was usually more comfortable in motels than relying on people's kindness. Or how he'd just slipped in there that Sam hadn't been getting better at the motel.

He couldn't really remember returning to the motel after the hunt or, indeed, much of the hunt itself. Dean said the ghost had wanted someone to follow it, and Sam had done so all-too-altruistically, nearly freezing himself in the process. He had a few dim impressions of cold and heat, misery and longing for something he couldn't express. But he had no clear memories until he'd woken up in the Edwards' daughter's room...and felt like he was home.

Oh.

"Dean."

"Yeah." Dean had somehow snuck two bites of scrambled egg and another half-strip of bacon in him while Sam had been thinking. While it was kinda humiliating to be fed like a baby, Sam figured if they didn't acknowledge it, it wasn't happening. Besides, he was hungrier than he'd realized and the home-cooked food was great.

Sam started to say something, stopped. He was still so tired, verging on half-asleep now, it was hard to make sense of what was in his head, let alone verbalize it. But he had to try, especially if Dean was thinking what Sam thought he was thinking. Or…something. "Dean."

"Still here."

"It wasn't the room."

Dean's eyebrows drew together. It made him look mad, but Sam knew he was just puzzled. He patiently continued his baby-bird feeding. "What wasn't the room? What room?"

"The motel." Sam knew he wasn't making much sense; damn this fatigue. He wasn't even injured. "I like this room. I mean, th'bunnies are kinda creepy but…" Crap, he hadn't meant to actually say that.

Dean's eyebrows climbed. "Dude, I think you need some more sleep." He reached for the tray.

Sam found his brother's wrist and clamped on, feeling the still-healing scars of the wendigo's ropes under his fingers. "'S not about where. It's who. Jess…"

Dean's eyes darkened, pained for him. And maybe for Dean himself. "Sammy…"

"And you," Sam pressed on insistently. "You're home, okay?"

Dean's eyebrows danced high again, this time skeptically.

Some part of Sam had always known that while he remained enough for Dean, Dean was no longer enough for Sam. He'd yearned for school, a girl, a normal life. His brother had felt that as rejection, when Sam had never intended it to be. He just…wanted more.

But he'd never not wanted or not appreciated his big brother. Dean was all he had now, and Sam was more grateful than he could express that he had so much still left. He could see why it didn't look that way to Dean, though, with all of Sam's focus on Jess. He'd even let his grief consume his brother's birthday.

So he was insistent when he squeezed Dean's arm and stared blurrily at him, because he needed Dean to get this. "You, and that stupid car, that's home, all right? That's what I come back to."

He saw the words hit deep and wondered why he hadn't thought to say them before and why he wasn't embarrassed to now and why Dean wasn't saying anything and…what were they talking about again?

Dean looked down. Cleared his throat. "Your face is stupid."

Sam slowly smiled. A fourth grade comeback: Dean had to be really touched. "Your hair's stupid," he mumbled.

"Hey, you don't mess with the hair, dude."

Somehow Dean had slipped free of Sam's hold and was moving the tray, which was okay because eating seemed way too much effort now, and for that matter, so was keeping his eyes open. A few pillows escaped from behind him so he was only a little propped up, and Sam was comfortable and sleepy and…happy. He felt guilty about it just as quickly…but he was too tired for that. Happy was good.

"Bunnies aren't creepy," Dean was grumbling as he pulled the blankets back up around Sam.

He was pretty sure he was still smiling when he fell asleep.

The End