I do not own Supernatural, its character's or any of its back story. I merely write this as an homage to a wonderful show, wonderful actors and writers in the hope that no one will mind.

This story was written for Sarah and she has graciously allowed me to post it for others to read. Unlike many of the stories I post it is already finished so I will be posting every couple of Days.

Author's notes:- Set season 1 for reasons which will become obvious. For those who haven't figured it out by now my favourite scenario is to shamelessly hurt Dean whilst having him only worry about Sam- and happily that was exactly what Sarah asked for in her story. Please let me know what you think- J:)

Sam fits the victim profile for their latest case, can Dean do what's needed to save him?

Ghost of a Memory.

Chapter 1

Sam melted into the warm soft touch of her skin, savoured the sweet caresses, returning them with his own, his hands ghosting across the surface of her smooth skin. Soft sweet lips pressed against his and his mind was lost in a swirl of sensation, as all five senses responded, her smell, her taste, her touch, her soft laughter, her beautiful eyes, perfect beauty, perfect lust, perfect love. Lost in pleasure, heading for ecstasy and then she was gone.

Ripped from him with a violence that made him scream, that made him feel as though some of his own skin had been torn away with her. "No. . . Jessica," he called, trying to move, trying to go after her, but he couldn't, his muscles wouldn't work. With all his will he tried to move, straining against the invisible force that held him to the bed but there was nothing he could do except watch her fly upwards, watch the terror on her features as she reached down for him, hear her scream for help as her blood started to fall, dripping onto his forehead, in the same spot, always in the same damn spot. He had to watch her as she began to burn, unable to tear his gaze away, unable to help her, unable to save her. . . .he felt his heart snap in two and the pain tore down through his insides, and then he could move again and he leapt up, his eyes flying open, his heart thudding in his chest, sweat dripping from his brow, his gut twisted into seven kinds of agony.

It took him several rapid panting breaths, his gaze sweeping the small motel room before he could get his bearings and acknowledge the repeating nightmare for what it was. There was no fire here, no dead girlfriend on the ceiling, no demons to fight except his own. He was in a motel room in Peterstown, Arizona, and his brother was sleeping peacefully in the next bed. He pushed a shaky hand through his hair, and that was when he felt it, a sticky all too familiar substance. He pulled his hand forward and gazed at the grey smear, reaching across to turn on the bedside light so that he could confirm that it was what he thought it was, bright red and glistening, blood. His gaze swept the room again for some way that he could have been injured for some reason. . .but aside from the twisted sheets that wrapped in knots around his legs the room was exactly how he'd left it when he'd finally let the lure of the bed, and his growing exhaustion, persuade him to try for a little sleep. There was a soft glow from his computer screen, discarded clothes littering the floor, nothing unusual, nothing to explain.. . . He looked down and the panic notched up again. Sweat was already beading on his skin, his breaths coming in short uncomfortable pants. He pulled the sheets awkwardly from his legs and stumbled to the bathroom, to the mirror. Staring at his own ashen expression, the sunken eyes with dark rings that spoke once more of too little sleep. He stared at the red mark on his forehead. Wiping it away he realised that there was nothing underneath. Nowhere for the blood to have come from, no cuts, and it was in the exact spot, the place where her. . .He barely made it to the toilet bowl before losing what little food he'd managed to force down during the day, heaving, long after his stomach was empty, and then he was frantically rinsing out his mouth, before almost ripping the flimsy shower curtain down in his haste to get under the soothing stream of water. It started cold but he didn't care, turned to almost scalding hot, but still he didn't seem to notice as he scrubbed at his face, at his body, trying to wash away the sensations, the memories, the nightmare. It all hurt too much, just too damn much and it was all he could do not to collapse into a heap and sob the pain away, but he didn't, he couldn't. All he could do was try to wash it away.


Dean waited until he was sure the bathroom door had closed before sitting up, his own gut tightening at the sounds of his brother retching. He scrubbed his hand tiredly across his face in an unconscious effort to push back the tears of frustration and concern that stung on the edge of his vision. Part of him wanted to jump up, run into the bathroom and pull his kid brother into an embrace. Tell him that everything would be all right, somehow wipe away his pain and his grief, but he knew that he couldn't, knew that even the gesture stood a good chance of making things worse, because Sam wasn't a kid any more, couldn't be sheltered by him any more from the terrors of the world, and these days Dean's attempts to do so just seemed to make his brother mad.

Sam didn't want to be protected. He wanted to do his share of the protecting, and so Dean had let him, let him believe that he was unaware of the effect this hunt was having on him.

So no, he couldn't go into the bathroom and grab him. Sam thought he was asleep, thought he didn't know that the nightmares had returned, the nightmares that he hadn't had in at least six months, at least not bad, not this bad. Hell, they had never been this bad, but ever since this town, this place, this hunt, ever since they had arrived in this damn place Sam had been having nightmares, and they were getting progressively worse. He hadn't slept in two days and he looked like hell. Dean knew that he wasn't far behind. Sam hadn't slept and Dean hadn't slept worrying about Sam, and what was worse he was pretending he had, because he didn't want his brother to see how worried he was, didn't want to add to the emotional burden They were both pussyfooting around each other, walking on eggshells, each pretending that there wasn't a problem, but there was, and it had everything to do with where they were and what they were doing here.

Dean pushed back the covers and swung his legs around to hit the floor, his elbows meeting his knees, his head dropping dejectedly into his hands as he unsuccessfully tried to block out the sounds of his brother's suffering. He'd been a fool, a fool to take up this hunt, a fool to come here. He should have seen the parallels, should have known that this had the potential to hit his brother hard. He was only just getting over Jessica, only just coming to terms with her death; the wounds were too raw. Why hadn't he seen, why hadn't he thought. . . Dean stood with every intention of beating his fist against the wall or maybe his head, maybe that would ease the pain of knowing that this was his fault, that he had opened his brother up for this suffering by bringing him here. He got as far as swinging it up, white knuckled and ready to take the pain, because physical pain was a lot easier to take than emotional pain, another lesson he'd learnt at an early age. Breaking your leg was a whole lot better feeling than the guilt of letting something happen to the younger brother you were supposed to be looking after. But something made him pull the punch at the last minute, maybe it was the change in sounds from the bathroom, the retching had stopped and now the shower was running, maybe it was a moment of rationality that fought through the frustration and the guilt.

'Hurting yourself won't help your brother.' The thought echoed around his mind as he dropped his fist to his side and turned to scan the room. His feet were moving before he'd even realised that he'd made a decision. He grabbed Sam's overnight bag from the floor and began to pack.

It didn't even occur to him that part of the decision he'd just made meant that the pretending was well and truly over.

By the time Sam emerged from the bathroom, Dean had Sam's things packed and was most of the way through his own. He didn't even look up as his brother came through the door, he just moved over to pick something off the floor and stuff it into his bag.

Sam stopped dead in his tracks and stared at his brother, his thinking was dulled by the lack of sleep and the almost strangling emotions that seemed to tie themselves around every thought. It took him several moments to process what he was seeing. He had expected to find Dean asleep, well, possibly awake, he had made a lot of noise, but wide awake and packing ? for both of them. . .? Finally he found the words to speak "Dean what the hell? . . .Are we going somewhere?"

Dean didn't stop, didn't even look up as he gave his answer. "Yes we are."

Sam took a step forward, blocking his brother's path to the drawer he'd been emptying. "Care to tell me where?" he asked.

Dean finally met his gaze. "Away from here." He side stepped around Sam and took some socks from the drawer moving back to his pack.

"Care to tell me why?" Sam asked, the anger and frustration beginning to build because he already knew the answer.

Dean stuffed the last of his socks into his bag and began fumbling with the zip. This wasn't a conversation he wanted to have. He just wanted Sam to see the logic of it, say "OK, let's go," grab his pack and hop into the Impala so that they could get the hell out of here, and, as Peterstown faded to a dot in the rearview mirror, his brother's nightmares would disappear with equal ease and they could get back to where they were. He looked up, yeah and he could also see pink, curly tailed creatures doing an airshow for him.

Sam wasn't going to just walk away from this, however much it was hurting him, but it was Dean's job to convince him that he should, that he had to. "Because," he stated, but there was no more. He met his brother's gaze, 'because' would have to be enough, even though it was woefully inadequate as reasons went. Why couldn't it be enough?

Sam waited for more, when it wasn't forthcoming he was forced to ask. "Because what? What in the hell is going on here Dean? You've never been one to cut and run in the middle of the night."

"This is my hunt," Dean tried, he really didn't want to explain to his brother just how worried he was, and even though a small part of him knew that vagueness wasn't going to cut it, that his concerns would have to be expressed, that emotions that neither of them were comfortable discussing would have to come out, he still tried to avoid it. In the way that his father had always avoided discussing things that really mattered, once he'd made his mind up the boys had no choice but to do what he wanted. He hated himself for trying to pull the same thing with his brother now, but he had to get him out of here, and this was the only way, because as soon as things got more emotional he knew that he'd cave. So he had to try this way. "And I say we call it off and get out of here." He looked away as he prepared the lie. "I'm not even sure this is one for us, could just be a serial killer." Dean picked up his bag.

"You don't believe that," Sam stated, his thinking still a little fuzzy. If he'd been awake he would have picked up on what was really happening the second he'd walked out of the bathroom, but he was still confused and frustrated by the fact that Dean was even awake, let alone suggesting that they drop a hunt in the middle and just leave.

"I do," Dean stated forcefully, making himself meet his brother's gaze once again. "Now, come on let's go." He tried to walk round Sam but his brother squared up to his full height, a height that was a few inches taller and shoulders that squared up a few inches wider even though he was the younger brother, and blocked his path.

"No, not until you tell me. . . ." he stopped as his thoughts finally cleared. He looked into Dean's eyes and saw the concern, saw the fear, realised that everything to this point had been an act. Saw the dark hollows under Dean's eyes that reflected his own.

Dean hadn't been sleeping oblivious, he had known. He knew, knew how bad it was, wanted to protect him. Sam took an involuntary step backwards as his mind processed rapidly and his already screwed emotions went into overdrive. He gave a slight gasp, one that you would only have noticed if you knew him, a gentle puff of air from a soft mental blow to the gut, before recovering. "I'm fine," he stated, proving he could be just as forceful with a lie as his brother.

Dean's eyes drifted meaningfully across to the bathroom door and back. "Oh yeah you're just peachy," his own irrational anger was building, and, despite the fact that he knew it was irrational, he was too tired and scared to control it. "I was forgetting how having nightmares so bad you don't sleep for three days.. . ." he pointed at the bathroom door, "nightmares so bad they make you spew your guts, I was forgetting that that was just your norm." He paused drawing in breath his eyes flashing. "You are not frickin' fine Sam." With a huge effort he reined in the anger a little, snorting some of it out through flared nostrils. He tried and mostly failed to soften his tone. "You need to get out of here, away from this."

"And what. . . ." Sam asked, "run away? Let other people die, because we cut and run? Since when has that been the way we do things, Dean? Since when?"

"It's not our fight," Dean tried. "We don't have to. . ."

"Yes we do," Sam stated, "because nobody else will."

Dean took a step back, the irony of the role reversal not lost on him, here he was fighting to abandon a hunt and Sam was fighting to stay on it, but he wasn't prepared to give up yet, even though he knew that his brother was right. This wasn't a serial killer, at least not a human one, and if they left it would claim more victims, but could he stay and risk one of those victims being Sam? They were both so far off their game. He met his brother's gaze. "Staying here is killing you," he stated softly, glancing away again as the weight of the emotional connection bowed his head and forced his eyes down. "And," he drew in another breath, just managing to meet Sam's gaze again. "You know that you fit the victim profile, right?"

"Since when has being in danger made us run from a hunt?" Sam asked, his own anger draining away through the pool of fear in his brother's eyes.

Since I have to watch you suffer. . . since I can't protect you. . . since I might loose you.

Dean dropped his bag on to the bed and picked up Sam's "I'll help you unpack." It was a quiet admission of defeat. He walked over to Sam's bed and dumped his bag there.

Sam joined him, breathing heavily as his screwed emotions tried to settle. It took him a moment to register that Dean was staring at something. "Dean?"

"Did you cut yourself?. . .hurt yourself," Dean asked.

Sam shook his head and followed Dean's gaze to the clear round spots of blood on the pillow.