A.N. Just felt like a little skip back in time.

Between Two Paths

Sam stood, statue still, in the near total dark of the room and watched as his brother slept. The past couple of days had been emotionally hard, on both of them. Sam had seen everything in his brother's hazel green eyes. Shock, denial, disbelieve, anger. But stronger than all of these, fear. Sam could cope with all the rest, hell he'd both seen them and been on the receiving end of them often enough. But the one that was testing his resolve was the fear.

He knew Dean got scared sometimes. They both did. It kinda went with the job. Just because they knew that the nightmares existed, it didn't stop them having nightmares of their own. Anyway, a Hunter who wasn't afraid, well….they generally didn't last long. And that, after all, was what Sam was, a Hunter. He was also a brother. Sam actually didn't know which came first anymore. He was no longer certain whether he had become the Hunter because of his brother, or whether it was because he was a Hunter that he was so entwined with his brother. It didn't matter. What mattered to Sam were those things he wasn't.

He wasn't a guy studying hard at university to achieve something that would prove his worth when choosing a career. He wasn't spending his nights with a woman he loved wrapped in his arms. He wasn't spending the time considering wedding venues and who should be on the guest list. He wasn't with his future wife choosing the place they would call home, the place that he and she would raise their kids. He wasn't the man that was being offered promotion at work in recognition of his skills. He wasn't the man, surrounded by family, carving the Thanksgiving roast. He was none of that, but he thought perhaps he wanted to be.

He wanted to be able to invite his big brother around for Christmas day. To be able to ask Dean how he was and trust him when he said "I'm good." He wanted to be able to sleep peacefully at night, knowing Dean was safe. He wanted to ring him out of the blue to tell him he'd got them two tickets for the game.

That was then, now he wasn't so sure anymore. Not now he'd seen the fear in Dean's eyes, and recognised what his brother was truly afraid of. The werewolves, the wendigos, the spirits and the demons. None of them or others like them could shake Dean like the blind terror of being alone, without Sam. Dean needed family, simple as that. And right now Sam thought he both loved him and hated him for it. Right now, Sam realised, the only way to sleep knowing Dean was safe, was to stay.

Sam sighed and began to slowly unpack his bag again. There was no question at all that they would both die for each other if necessary. But Sam was choosing to do more than that, he was choosing to give up life for his brother.

Tomorrow they would stand together and watch their father burn. And Sam would be a Hunter, nothing more…..