Author's Note - Please forgive me for this. I'm going through this hurt!Sam kick (I blame it on the cold rainy weather) and if I'm going to do a hurt/comfort fic, I might as well go all out. Anyway, I'm expecting this to get dark, and I'm going to warn you right now, I haven't decided yet if this is going to be a death fic. Either way, it's not going to be pleasant for poor Sammy. Takes place in early Season 2.

Disclaimer - I own nothing but the mistakes.

Dean glanced at his brother sleeping uncomfortably in the passenger seat next to him. His long limbs were positioned in a way that looked unnatural, one arm pulled up and draped behind the younger man's neck in a futile attempt give his head some extra support, and the other thrown across his chest. His head leaned away from Dean at an almost violent angle, and Dean was sure that the stretched muscles there would be tight and sore in the morning. Dean was thankful for any rest that his brother was able to get, no matter how intermittent and uncomfortable it might be. The past number of weeks had not been easy for either of them, and Dean gripped the steering wheel tightly as the gruesome memories from recent days once again found their familiar place at the front of Dean's thoughts.

Dean focused his eyes back to the road. It was dark. The heavy drops of rain pounding on the car created thick blankets of water on the windshield, despite the wipers' best efforts to clear the glass, and the lack of visual made it even more difficult to maneuver the unfamiliar pavement. Dean knew that he should pull over, get Sam into an actual bed and maybe catch some Z's himself, but he continued on. He was too angry to rest. Angry that they didn't have work – that they hadn't had any work for almost two weeks now. Nothing to take his mind off the horrible empty feeling that sat like a rock in the pit of his stomach. Something was very wrong, and the fact that Dean didn't know what it was just increased his rage.

More than the lack of hunt, Dean was angry with his father, which in turn just made him angry with himself. His father was dead, and somehow Dean was alive. Dean knew in the back of his mind that his father was behind his miraculous recovery, and the thought ate away at him. Besides that, Dean's apparent inability to express his feelings had been a constant strain on his and Sam's relationship ever since their father had died. Sam had always been comfortable with 'chick flick moments' as Dean called them, and in the nature of Sam, had tried on many occasion to initiate one of these moments. "I just want to help, Dean," Sam would say, or "You can trust me, Dean," or "Why won't you talk to me, Dean," or "I'm going through the same thing, Dean." Each time, Dean would yell or argue or punch something or just ignore his younger brother completely, because Sam wasn't going through the same thing – not entirely. Because Dad hadn't given up his life to save Sam. And Sam didn't now bear the same weight that sat in Dean's stomach and squeezed his heart, tugged at his soul. Sam had no idea about the thing that angered Dean the most – their father's last words. "Look out for Sammy." The words echoed in Dean's head. "You have to save Sam, Dean. And if you can't, you have to kill him."

Dean's jaw clenched as he considered what his father could have possibly meant. Have to kill Sam? Why? Why did everyone always have to talk in some sort of code? Why couldn't they just tell the whole truth – make things just a little bit easier? Was that really so much to ask? He looked at Sam again. He would never be able to hurt his little brother, Dean knew that. Sam meant more to him than anything, and now that Dad was dead, Sam was literally all that Dean had left – the only thing in the world that kept Dean going, though Dean wasn't exactly doing the greatest job lately of showing that to Sam. Still, though he might not be willing to talk feelings with his little brother, the fact remained that he would never ever hurt him. Hell, Dean couldn't even bring himself to tell Sam about what their father had said. He knew Sam was already worried that the demon who had killed their mother was somehow going to turn him into a monster. Their father's last words wouldn't help.

Sam mumbled something in his sleep and turned restlessly. The small act broke through Dean's walls and the first part of his father's words sounded again in his head. The only part that mattered – the only part that had ever mattered. The words that had been Dean's motto ever since he had held his baby brother tight and carried him out of their burning house on the night their mother had died. Look out for Sammy. Dean sighed and took the first exit he came to. Through the rain Dean could see the soft glow of a sleepy town and he pulled into the parking lot of the first motel he found.

"C'mon, Sammy." Dean said, tapping Sam's chest with the back of his hand. "Let's get some sleep."

"I was sleeping." Sam complained groggily, but opened the car door and followed Dean quickly through the rain and into the lobby.

Dean shook the water from his hair as he approached the desk to check in. The young boy behind the counter seemed unimpressed and even somewhat annoyed by their presence, but Dean smiled anyway as he reached the counter and grabbed the bottom of his shirt, shaking it in a pointless effort to air it out. "It's really coming down out there." He said, trying to keep the mood light and friendly.

The boy – Nick from his name tag, looked to be in his late teens or early twenties. He lowered his eyes and frowned at Dean, then glanced over his shoulder. Dean followed his gaze and found Sam, still standing just inside the door, dripping hair falling over his eyes and a scowl on his face. Dean gave Sam a 'what the hell' look, but Sam just folded his arms in response and remained positioned at the door.

"Don't mind my brother." Dean said apologetically to Nick. "He's just grumpy because he hasn't gotten his beauty rest. Aint that right, Sammy?"

Sam didn't respond. Nick looked surprised for a moment but quickly composed himself and asked monotonously, "King or two queens?"

"Two queens." The kid had clearly missed the part about them being brothers.

Dean pulled one of his many fake credit cards from his wallet, handed it to the kid and watched as the young clerk looked it over suspiciously. He raised an eyebrow and shook his head softly before swiping the card and handing it back to Dean along with a room key.

"Room 8." Nick said, pointing out the door.

"Thanks." Dean grabbed the cards from the kid and pushed past Sam on his way back into the rain.

Dean flipped on the light as they entered the room. It was a small space with stained beige carpet, two beds with torn too-thin blankets, ugly pastel paintings of wildflowers on the walls and a smell that Dean couldn't quite place. Another dump. Home sweet home. Sam shrugged off his wet jacket and kicked off his boots before collapsing face down on the bed furthest from the door.

"Uuhng." He mumbled into the mattress.

Dean moved mechanically around the room, carefully laying salt lines by the door and windows. He felt Sam's eyes on his back as he pulled off his wet clothes and exchanged them for a dry pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt, then made his way to the window where he pulled back the curtain and stared dolefully out into the stormy night.

"Hey." Sam's said softly. "You okay?"

Dean let the curtain fall back in place and turned to face his brother. "Yeah. 'Course." He pulled back the blanket on the other bed and lowered himself onto the mattress.

Sam raised an eyebrow, not convinced, but decided against pressing the matter. Instead he shrugged and said, "Turn off the light, then, and go to sleep."

Dean reached for the lamp near his bed and switched it off. The sudden darkness made the rhythmic sound of the pounding rain more prominent and Dean felt the heavy rock in his stomach turn to ice. He shivered and pulled the blanket tight around his shoulders in an attempt to warm some of the chill that seemed to have soaked through his clothes and skin and made it's way all the way to his soul. After a few minutes, Dean heard Sam's breathing even out on the other side of the room, and he began to snore quietly, a sure sign that Sam was asleep – finally someplace warm and comfortable and safe. Dean took comfort in the thought that his brother was, for the moment, content, and he let himself drift into a much needed sleep.

Dean's first conscious thought was coffee. The smell of the freshly brewed caffeine pushed through the fog of Dean's dreams with the same effect as a blaring alarm clock, only much more pleasant. He rolled over and glanced at the bed next to him where Sam was munching on an apple and reading a newspaper, clearly in a much better mood than the previous night.

"Here." Sam perked up when he noticed Dean was awake. "I got you some coffee and a donut." He grabbed the styrofoam cup and small paper bag on the nightstand and handed them to Dean.

"Thanks." Dean said, sitting up and taking his breakfast from Sam. He sipped the hot liquid and closed his eyes contentedly as he felt it move down his throat and into his stomach, effectively warming him from the inside out. He took a large bite from the donut and grinned at Sam. "Anything interesting?" He asked, indicating the newspaper in Sam's hands.

Sam looked up at Dean's mumbled speech and noticed his full mouth. "God you're gross." He said shaking his head and turning back to the paper. "Nope. Nothing." He sighed. "Not even an unknown cause of death in the obituaries. Just a couple old guys."

Dean snorted at his brother's bluntness. "Wow, Sammy. Way to be tactful."

"Shut up." Sam retorted. "You don't even know what that word means.

"Do to." Dean took another swig of coffee before rising from the bed and heading to the bathroom to shower.

The hot water did wonders for Dean's mood as it seemed to wash off all the bitterness and resentment and worry that had been building the past few days. Dean couldn't believe how optimistic he was feeling for the first time in a very long time, and Sam's attitude had seemed to improve greatly as well. Maybe all they needed really was an adequate bed, a decent nights sleep and the safety of four walls.

"So what's the plan?" Dean asked upon re-entering the small room.

Sam shrugged and continued flipping through channels on the TV.

Not wanting to compromise Sam's mood or his own, Dean suggested spending one more night in the small town. It wasn't like they had any pressing matters to attend to. They had been driving aimlessly across the United States ever since leaving Bobby's house weeks ago. Not that it was much of a change from their normal routine, but at least they usually had something to do. Some hunt to keep them from going crazy. It seemed that all the monsters had collectively decided to go on an extended vacation, and for one day, Dean decided, he would take advantage of the time off and spend some quality time doing nothing at all with his brother.

Sam agreed to staying in the town and Dean plopped down happily on the bed and watched the TV channels flip by as Sam searched for something worth stopping on.

"Where are we anyway?" Dean asked, realizing that in the rain the previous night, he had not even noticed the name of the town they had pulled into.

"Battle Lake, Minnesota." Sam finally settled on some small claims court reality show. "Population 767."

"Huh." Dean leaned back on the bed and rested his head on his arm. He watched contentedly as the lady on the TV screen explained that she had not gotten her computer back after moving out of her ex boyfriend's house, and listened as Sam laughed and used his law school knowledge to comment on the woman's unfortunate situation.

The day was uneventful, and towards evening Dean found himself getting restless and almost wishing that he and Sam had not paid for another night at the motel, but the deed was already done and Sam still seemed content enough so Dean kept his mouth shut.

"Hey," He said after they had ordered a pizza to the room and ate half of it in comfortable silence. "How about we go down to the bar for a couple hours, huh?"

Sam pondered the offer over a bite of pepperoni. "Sure." He shrugged. "Sounds good."

They stuffed the over-sized pizza box into the small fridge and headed out the door. The town was small enough that the bar was only a few blocks away and the nearly nonexistent traffic made it easy to walk. They decided that leaving the Impala would be best, in case they both ended up drinking. Besides, the rain had long since stopped and the clouds had dissolved into nothingness, leaving behind a clear sky and setting sun.

The bar was a place called The Village and Dean though there was probably a joke in there somewhere about a village being a place where all the people lived, maybe indicating that the whole town was a bunch of alcoholics, but he couldn't quite put it together so instead he just ordered a couple beers for himself and Sam and went to sit by his brother. They laughed and talked over a few drinks and Dean was amazed at how absolutely normal it all felt. For the first time since Dad died, maybe even long before that, Dean thought that maybe everything really would be okay.

The people of Battle Lake, Minnesota offered slim pickings when it came to girls. Not that Dean was looking for someone to bring back to the room. He wasn't about to kick Sam out and possibly ruin the good thing that they finally had going between them again, he was just looking for someone to flirt with while at the bar. It had been a while, and Dean figured he needed to brush up on his lady charming skills before he got rusty. As if on cue, two good looking girls walked in and immediately caught Dean's eye. Dean watched as the girls looked around the crowded room and stopped when their eyes fell on Sam and Dean. Dean flashed a crooked smile and the brunette smiled back, tugging at her blond friend's arm as she led them in the direction of the brothers.

"Heads up, Sammy." Dean kicked his brother under the table and nodded toward the girls. Sam immediately straightened and smiled politely at the girls as they approached the table.

"Anyone sitting here?" The brunette asked, pointing to the chair next to Dean.

"Nope." Dean replied, pulling the chair out for the girl to sit. Sam smiled at the blond and offered her the chair next to him.

"I'm Mandy." The brunette said as she and her friend both sat. "This is my friend Kate."

"You two from around here?" Dean asked, turning on the charm.

The four of them talked over the next hour or so, all the while ordering beers and even doing a few shots. Even Sam seemed to be having a good time, though his conversation with the blond was more of a friendly chat, while Dean's time with the brunette had at some point turned into light touching – almost inappropriate for the public setting – and serious eye contact. Finally, Sam gave Dean a look that clearly meant it's time to get going and Dean nodded, indicating that he understood and agreed.

"Well, ladies, it's been a pleasure." Dean started. "But I think my brother and I need to get back to the hotel as soon as we finish these drinks."

Mandy suddenly reached for Dean's glass and her own. Kate did the same with Sam's glass, and Dean raised his eyebrows suspiciously, but his alcohol clouded mind came up with nothing and Mandy smiled, handing Dean's glass to him.

"To meeting sexy people in random small town bars." Mandy said cheerfully.

"Cheers." Kate agreed as she handed Sam's drink back to him.

"Mmm." Dean grunted his approval and all four finished their beers on the toast.

"I don't suppose you boys would be interested in walking us to our car?" Mandy asked seductively, and Dean quickly obliged.

The four of them stood up and headed to the door. Sam stumbled and Dean laughed, grabbing his arm to steady him. "Had a few too many?" He teased. "You always were a lightweight, Sammy."

Sam smiled back, but kept his grip on Dean's arm as they made their way out of the bar.

"We parked around back." Mandy announced, linking her arm around Dean's and pulling him too quickly toward the back parking lot. Sam lost his grip on Dean's arm and Dean turned to wait for him, but Kate had taken over as Sam's crutch, so he let Mandy lead the way to the car.

Once they rounded the corner, Mandy turned and gave Dean a quick kiss on the cheek. "Thanks." She said, then leaned closer and whispered in his ear, "I'm sorry." Before turning and running to her vehicle. Dean watched curiously as Kate ran past him to the car and the girls drove quickly away.

Dean turned back to Sam, who Kate had left a good 30 feet behind. I'm sorry? Dean pondered the words as he started walking back toward his brother. What did the girl possibly have to be sorry for? Dean saw Sam stumble again as he tried to take a step closer. He put an arm up to steady himself, but fell to the ground when there was nothing there to support him.

"Sam?" Dean called and quickened his pace, but was surprised to discover that his legs weren't cooperating the way he wanted them to and he also tripped and fell to his knees. What the hell? He thought. Dean had been tipsy, he had been drunk, and he had been completely smashed, and this wasn't any of those. He raised his head to look at Sam who was now laying flat on his back, rolling his head from side to side. "Samm–" Dean tried to call, but the word was cut off as his tongue refused to work. The last thing Dean remembered was seeing a tall man approach Sam and stand above him– then everything went black.

Well I hope you enjoyed so far. Things are just starting to heat up. If you liked it, review, because if nobody likes it then there's no point in me continuing!