A/N: Sorry it took me forever to post this chapter, but I have been kind of busy with some important exams coming up. Also, I spend five weeks interrailing through Europe after posting the first chapter so.. :D Thanks for everyone who reviewed, I loved reading all of them.

Okay, here goes...


"Sammy.." Dean slowly raised his head from his hands, looking at Sam intently. "Why is there blood on my hand from where I touched your arm?"

Dean's voice was calm, while Sam was feeling anything but. His stomach dropped through the floor and if his heart had been beating wildly before, it was going insane now. His breathing quickened and he couldn't answer his brother as his mouth suddenly felt as dry as sandpaper.

"Sammy?"

He tried, he honestly tried, but no sound came out of his mouth when he tried to speak. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing though, as he had absolutely no idea what he would have said anyway.

"Let me see your arm", said Dean, leaning forward to pull up the sleeve of Sam's shirt. That finally snapped Sam from his trance-like state and he quickly pulled back saying;

"No, it's fine, it's just a cut from umm... hunting, ummm... you know..."

Sam fought the urge to slap his forehead at his pathetic attemp at lying. He knew there was just no way in hell that Dean would buy that.

"From hunting the revengeful spirit in that worksite?", Dean questioned and Sam nodded eagerly.

Wow, Dean must be more gullible than he thought.

"...From two weeks ago?"

Or not .

The higher the older Winchesters eyebrows rose, the lower the younger wanted to sink through the bed he was sitting on. Sam's brain was furiously trying to find a way out of this, to come up with an explanation that his brother would actually believe, instead of the pathetic ones that he had the tendency to blurt out in panic.

As he failed to come up with anything good, Sam decided to focus on his desperate attempt at sinking through the bed, -or at least somehow blend in with the bedspread. He didn't have time to turn into that ugly shade of green though, as his brother suddenly snatched his hand into a firm grip. Sam tried to pull away but after a brief struggle Dean was able to keep a hold of his hand long enough to pull up his little brother's sleeve.

Sam almost fell from the bed when his arm was suddenly free. Panting, he quickly cradled his arm to his chest and looked anxiously at his brother.

Dean was sitting on his bed, panting as well, looking more than a bit shaken. He wasn't meeting Sam's eyes, but Sam could see the emotions in his. There was shock and confusion, and soon, as Sam had feared, some of the shock was morphing into anger. This wasn't supposed to happen, he hadn't meant for anyone to find out.

The sight of Sam sitting there, cradling his arm and looking to all world like a scared six-year-old waiting to be yelled at for doing something bad, melted all the anger from Deans eyes though, as he finally raised them to meet Sam's.

"Sammy...", Dean started, his voice so devastated and sad that Sam couldn't bear hearing it.

"No! No, Dean don't, it's not what you think", Sam interrupted him, still desperately trying to deny everything even though he knew the damage was already done.

Sam's attempt didn't seem to have the desired effect though, as it only brought back the anger.

"It's not what I think!", Dean exclaimed, "So what is it then Sam, huh? Do you have a good explanation for those scars on you arm? Did you perhaps fall down on a pile of knives? Repeatedly!"

Dean stood up from the bed, his yelling so intense that Sam automaticly leaned away from him.

"Because if you don't, then I just have to assume it is what I think it is. And believe me, Sam, I wish I am wrong. Because if.. if I'm not.." Dean sat down again, not able to finish the sentence. He ran his hand down his face before lifting his head to face his brother. "So, do you?"

Sam felt tears pool up in his eyes as resignation filled him. He in turn looked away from his brother, blinking to make sure no tear would escape his chocolate brown eyes. Not raising his head, with a voice so quiet that his brother almost missed it, he mumbled a sad "No"

A silence followed. A silence that in Sam's mind seemed to last too long, and yet it couldn't last long enough as he was afraid of what would come after. He risked a glance at his older brother who, if possible, looked even more lost than Sam felt.

Suddenly Dean stood up again, anxiously pacing and in turns running a hand through his short hair or rubbing his face.

"I... I don't know what to say... I don't know what I'm supposed to do..." Dean's voice started sad and quiet but grew louder as frustration at his helplessness shone through.

"You don't have to say or do anything", Sam said quietly

"The hell I don't! You're my little brother and I'm supposed to protect you and now I find out that you're... that you're feeling bad enough to..." Dean's voice once again faded out as if saying it out loud would somehow make it more true. He heavily sat down on the edge of the bed opposite of Sam and looked at him until Sam met his eyes.

"Why?", it was just one word, but it held so much desperation and sadness that Sam couldn't help the tears once again pooling in his eyes.

"I don't know...", and it wasn't a lie. Sure he came up with endless reasons when he was thinking about it himself, but now none of them seemed good enough to say out loud. There was nothing he could say that would make Dean understand.

"I'm sorry", Sam added when Dean didn't say anything.

Dean felt his heart break as he saw a lone tear run slowly down his baby brother's face. He still couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that his little brother was.. God, his baby brother was cutting. It was something he had heard of mainly on TV and something he had even joked about sometimes, mockingly imitating slashing his wrists when someone was being overly dramatic or Sam was being ridiculously broody. Now.. well now there was absolutely nothing funny about it.

Dean's mind was still desperately trying to come up with alternative explanations that didn't involve a self-distructive little brothers and although he had seen the scars on Sam's arm already, suddenly he felt the need to see them again. He needed to make sure that this wasn't just some sick joke Sam was playing to scare the living shit out of him.

"Let me see your arm", Dean said soflty for the second time that evening, and this time Sam didn't refuse. He merely lifted his head and looked at Dean with round scared eyes as Dean rose from his bed to sit next to Sam. He then took Sam's left arm and gently pulled up the sleeve.

Sam fought the urge to pull his arm away from his brother as he revealed a scar after another. He couldn't fight the flinch thoug, as Dean peeled away the bloodied sleeve above his latest cut. Dean quickly flashed his painfilled eyes at him before continuing his mission of revealing every single scar on Sam's left arm.

There were exactly seventeen of them. Sam had counted. He also had two on his right arm. Only two, as it was much more convenient to cut the left and hold the blade with the right hand. Each and every one of those nineteen scars, in some bizarre way, was important to Sam. He couldn't bring himself to regret them, but somehow they still held shame, and he wasn't comfortable with people seeing them. For years he had been able to keep them hidden. It had become natural for him to always somehow cover up his left arm, he wore long sleeves whenever possible and casually draped something, a hooded top or a towel, over his arm when he wasn't. And now they were all exposed. And the one person he had worked the hardest to hide them from was looking straight at them.

Dean was looking slighlty pale and nauseated, still holding Sam's arm. He quietly trailed his finger along the scars until he reached the one that was still slowly bleeding. He then finally raised his head and looked at Sam with a carefully controlled expression, only his eyes betraying the devastating sadness he was feeling.

" For how long?", Dean voiced the question Sam had been dreading. He had a feeling Dean wasn't going to be very happy with him when he found out this had been going on right under his nose for months now.

But then again, he didn't really think Dean was gonna be happy with him anyway.

"Since a couple of months after you went to... after you died", Sam admitted quietly.

"What? Sam that was like a friggin year ago!", Dean's expression wasn't all that controlled anymore.

"Closer to six months really... ", Sam didn't know why he even bothered, it wasn't like Dean was going think that "Oh, only six months? Well then it's okay!"-

"You should have told me. I should have noticed!", Dean once again stood up and started pacing the small room.

"Dean it's okay-..."

"No, Sam, it is definitely not okay!"

"You didn't notice bcause I didn't want you to notice", Sam tried to make his brother stop blaming himself, though he knew that in Dean's case that was usually nearly impossible. Especially when Sam was concerned.

"And why didn't you!", started Dean, coming to a stop right in front of Sam, "I could have helped you if I had known what was going on", his town was much softer as he lowered himself down on the opposite bed.

Sam couldn't handle the soft pitying look in his big brothers eyes and dropped his gaze to his hands.

"Sammy... Why? Why would you do this?", asked Dean, his question desperately needing an answer, "I mean I get that I was dead and you were sad and all that, but why do to something like this?"

That got Sam to raise his head.

"Because! You weren't just dead Dean! You were in Hell. And I tried, Dean, I tried, but there was nothing I could do to get you out and I knew you were suffering and-,"

"And what, you thought you should suffer some too!", Dean finished the sentence for him. He wasn't right though, Sam almost wished he was because his reasons for cutting were absolutely opposite and totally selfish. He didn't cut to suffer, he cut to help with the suffering.

"No, Dean! I... I just couldn't deal with it anymore and it had worked before and..-", Sam realized his mistake the second the word 'before' had slipped out of his mouth.

"Whoa whoa whoa, stop right there. Before? What do you mean 'before'!", Dean's voice was angry but his eyes showed that he was scared.

Sam couldn't believe this was happening, he didn't want to tell Dean about Stanford. Well to be honest, he didn't want to tell Dean anything about any of this, but at least he had thought knowing about this time was enough. Stanford was something he had learned to avoid mentioning to his brother. It was something he knew Dean still was mad at him about, and not something Sam was proud of per say. Although, he refused to regret it as it had given him Jess, even if it was just for a little while.

"Dean, it's nothing really", Sam tried to calm his brother down. He didn't know why though, as it was obvious it wasn't going to work.

"Oh, it's nothing? Nothing, like you hurting yourself for like a year without telling your brother about it, is nothing?"

This time Sam wisely bit back the comment about it really only being like six months.

"Have you done this before, Sammy?", asked Dean, using the desperate soft voice that made it impossible to Sam to lie.

"Dean, it was years ago... And I stopped, so it was really nothing serious", Sam tried to make his voice as convincing as possible.

"Years ago, huh? So you are quite the expert on hiding things from me aren't you...", Deans voice was more of an frustrated mumble at the end.

"You weren't there Dean! What was I supposed to do? Call you? 'Hey, I know we haven't talked for weeks but I just thought I'd tell you that I found a new hobby; slashing my arms open with a knife!'", he saw Dan flinch slightly from the corner of his eye, "And when I saw you again it all had happened years ago so there was no point in bringing it up anymore", Sam's throat was feeling tighter by the end of the sentence as he rememberd the feeling of loneliness when he hadn't thought he would ever see his family again.

Dean was quiet for a while, absorbing what Sam was telling him.

"This was in Stanford?", he said finally, clearly surprised, "What, college wasn't the dream come true you had always thought it would be?", he continued, bitterness shining through his words.

And then Sam just couldn't take it anymore. The stress of the whole situation was getting to him and his brothers bitter and sarcastic words made him lose it.

"No, Dean, it wasn't! This may come as a surpise for you but my dream wasn't to be kicked out by my family! I didn't dream about my father practically disowning me because I wanted to go to school!", it was Sam's turn to stand up, both figuratively and literally, "when I found out that I got a full ride to Stanford I actually thought that Dad would be I don't know... proud?", Sam had to laugh a bitter laugh at that, "But no, he throws a huge fit and kicks me out the door", Sam's laugh dies out and he swallows to make the tightness in his throat to disappear.

"Sam...", Dean starts, the bitter humor gone from his voice. Sam doesn't give him time to continue though.

"And you know, that wasn't even the worst part. I mean it's Dad, you know, what was I expecting? But you...", Sam had to stop as tears threaten to make appearence.

Dean, in turn, turned his eyes away from Sam.

"At least I thought you would be...", Sam had to pause to swallow, and he saw Dean turn his gaze even lower, "But... when you didn't say anything... you just stood there, next to him when he...", Sam's voice breaks at the end and he turns completely away from Dean.

There was silence as Dean just sat there, and Sam stood, his back to Dean, pinching the bridge of his nose while trying to collect himself.

Dean didn't know what to say. He had never really thought about how awful it must have been for Sam when he had been all alone. He had been only concentrating on the fact that Sam had left him alone. At least he had had Dad, Sam hadn't had anyone.

Dean felt something tightenin inside him when looked at his baby brother standing there. Even though he couldn't see his face he could clearly see from the tense shoulders and bowed head that Sam was breaking.

Sam didn't know how long he had stood there before he was aware of Dean standing behind him. Soon he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to face his brother. Dean was looking straight at him with searching, kind eyes and looked like he was going to say something. Suddenly Sam hoped he wouldn't, he was tired and wasn't sure he could take anymore of this emotional talking without breaking apart.

Dean seemed to know exactly what he was thinking and just shifted the hand on his shoulder to the back of his neck and queezed lightly. A silent apology.

Sam gave him a small smile, knowing Dean would take it as it was, a sign of forgivneness.

After a moment, Dean took a step back and and frowned, taking hold of Sam's left arm once again. This time Sam succesfully held back a flinch.

"We gotta bandage this up", Dean said in a soft voice, guiding Sam to sit the bed once he got the gauze and washcloths from the bathroom.

Dean wrapped gauze around Sam's arm with gentle hands while Sam leaned against the headboard, his eyes starting to feel heavy.

He lifted his eyes to his brother when he felt him lower his arm gently on the bed.

"It's gonna be okay", Dean said, and they both knew he wasn't just talking about the wound.

Sam met Dean's gaze and smiled tiredly. "I know", he answered, and felt some knot deep inside him loosen as he realized he wasn't lying.

"I know."


End?

I'm not sure if I'm gonna add an chapter, or maybe an epilogue.

All kinds of reviews are still more than welcome! :D