By: Karen B.

Rated: Nothing horrific and written just because I like a good storm and a wet, hurt Sammy.

Disclaimer: Not the owner

Summary: Once upon a time there were these two really cool dudes, inside this really cool automobile, driving down the road during a really cool thunderstorm, when all of a sudden…


…The sky turned this really cool shade of black and it started to rain.

It was only one o'clock in the afternoon, but it looked more like one o'clock at night. The storm was bad, causing trees to bow and the river that followed along the two-lane highway to swell and run fast. Rain lashed down onto the Impala like bullets pinging against metal, and a thick, heavy fog enveloped the slow moving car, while the whipping wind howled snapping twigs and plastering torn leaves to the windshield like decoupage.

Sam huddled half-awake against the passenger door, looking cramped and miserable and pale-green.

Dean hit yet another giant puddle in the pitted road, sending water splashing up like ocean waves. "Son of a bitch," he swore, flipping the wiper blades on full blast, only to realize they already were full-blast. "Dude, I can't see a thing."

Next to him, Sam pulled a tattered, thin blanket tighter around himself. "Me-me either," he muttered, sluggishly slipping down into the seat, heavy-lidded eyes shutting as he nodded off for a split second.

"Hey," Dean called out loudly, thumping a fisted hand to the wheel.

Sam's head jerked up, wide-eyed and body statue-stiff. "Wh-what?"

"Stay awake," Dean simply stated, going back to concentrating on the road outside.

Sam settled back, blinking hard. "I know the rules, Dean."

"Which are?" Dean prompted.

"No sleeping with a concussion." Sam closed his eyes, head bobbling.

"Sam!" Dean hollered.

Sam's eyes snapped back open. "Fine, I'm fine. Not sleeping." He wormed in his seat.

"So if you weren't sleeping, what were you doing just then? Bobbing for apples? Or maybe you were bobbing for-"

"Shut up." Sam pressed his temple against the cold glass; it always helped ease the nausea and chase away the tiny, floating black spots.

Dean sighed and kept on driving through the dark storm. Wouldn't be the first time they'd mismanaged a straightforward salt and burn; the malevolent sprit of one Jefferson Bennett casting Sam about the toolshed until the kid's head met up with a heavy-duty metal workbench, knocking Sam out cold before Dean could light the bastard up. The storm coming out of nowhere was just an added bonus, and with no motel, coffee shop, or outhouse in sight – the crust on the pie.

"Where's a crappy motel when you need one?" Dean breathed out, side glancing over at Sam.

"Storms jacked-up," Sam mumbled, his breath fogging up the glass. "Th-think we should pull-pull off to the side of the road? Wait it out?"

"You going to hurl?" Dean asked, seriously worriedly.


"Then we drive," Dean said, but eased off the gas slowing the car even further. "We need to get you a room with a bed."

"Can we get me a new head while we're at it?" Sam hissed in pain, blinking away the black spots.

"Could," Dean said, his tone dry, sarcastic. "But wouldn't help your cause much, you'd still be your same old geeky self," he laughed.

Sam rolled his eyes, the action sending the black spots spinning. "You suck."

"Guess you're just batting zero on the scoreboard, huh, Sammy?" Dean said sarcastically, his gaze traveling over Sam head to toe to head again.

Sam said nothing.

A sharp crack of thunder followed by a bolt of white lightning lit the interior of the car and hung there a moment -suspended in time- causing Sam to tense up.

"You doing okay?" Dean leaned over the steering wheel, trying to see through the pouring rain.

Sam didn't answer too busy concentrating on not throwing up at the moment.

"Sam?" Dean turned to him. Kid had raccoon eyes and his skin had gone from pale-green to a darker frog-green.

Sam watched Dean watching him. Big brother's eyes scrutinizing every part of him.

"Are you all right?" Dean asked, more insistent.

Sam frowned, swallowing down hard and gave a little shake of his head. "Yes and yes."



"You look like crap," Dean criticized strongly. "Take a peek in the visor mirror. Your eyes are all glassy and crossed like you can't see straight, your face is sweaty and gray, you have fifteen stitches stapled to the back of your head and you're mascara is running."

'Mascara,' Sam mouthed, looking confused.

Dean tapped a finger to the soft spot under his eyes. "Dark circles bro," he tsked. "What's a girl to do?" he glared long and hard at Sam.

"Dude," Sam huffed, sliding lower in his seat. "Maybe if you'd let me get more than 2.5 minutes of sleep I wouldn't have that problem."

"Whoa, nelly," Dean screeched, swerving into the other lane to avoid a large tree branch.

Sam slid across the seat bumping shoulders with Dean. "Ugh," he moaned. "What are you doing?"

"Driving," Dean deadpanned, swerving back to his side and shooting Sam a heated stare.

Sam gingerly scooted back over to the passenger seat. "You mind actually driving on the street." He cringed, his head feeling like he'd duked it out with Tyson- maybe still was. "Please," Sam begged.

"Only because you said 'please' so sugary sweet." Dean went back to staring out the windshield. "Look, soon as we find a place to bed down, I'll let you get a few hours. "

"That's really awesome of you, Dean." Sam's eyes fluttered.

"Thanks, Sammy. That's just how I roll." Dean winked, knowing damn well Sam was fading. "Now stay awake and tell me where the next funky town is?" Maybe giving the kid a job to do would keep him awake.

"How about the next normal town," Sam sighed, groggily reaching to the seat between them for the map. "Last funky town we were in you and some girl named Courtney," he unfolded the map, "Got so drunk on those lemony fizzy drinks the two of you didn't get out of bed for a week, and I had to shack-up in a separate room," Sam muttered, squinting to focus his blurry eyes.

Dean smiled big. "Like I said, baby brother, where's the next funky town?"

Sam started to roll his eyes, thought better of it, and spread the map out further on his lap.

If possible, the storm grew rougher, an onslaught of ice pelting the Impala. The hailstones were hard as rock and meatball-sized, coming down fast and sounding like artillery fire.

"Oh, Baby." Dean flinched as the ice balls bounced off the hood like rapid-fire, leaving behind dents and threatening to crack the windshield. "Sam, we need to pull over somewhere, now," he growled, easing his foot off the gas, the car dropping to a sloth's pace.

Sam bent low over the map, index finger tracing the road they were on. "There's a town about twenty miles up ahead. When we hit Route Eight take a -" A shuddering sixth sense brought Sam's head up, and he stared out his window into the growing darkness.

"Take a what, dude? A dump?" Dean laughed uncontrollably.

Sam ignored him, something was out there.

A loud clap of thunder was followed by a sizzle of forked lightning that ripped across the sky. The meat-ball-sized hail turned matzo ball-sized and the rain tumbled down harder than ever.

"Shit, Sammy." Dean took his foot completely off the gas, letting the car drift slowly along on its own as he continued to rant.

Only half-listening to Dean, Sam strained to see through the veil of rain. The river running alongside the road was wild and explosive, the water swollen to its banks. "Is that-"Sam pressed his nose to the glass, frowning. "What is that?"

"It's rain Sam. Rain, okay, gallons and gallons, and tons and tons of falling-"

"Holy crap! Dean!"

"Water," Dean finished just as Sam opened the passenger door, before the car could roll to a stop, the blowing wind seeming to suck him and the map right out of Dean's sight.

"Sam! What the-" Dean slammed the car into park, the Impala protesting with a squelching shudder. He scrambled out the driver side, his feet hitting the pavement with a splash. Leaving his own door open and the engine running, Dean darted across the front of the Impala cutting through the high beams and stopped at the side of the soggy road. "Sam!" he shouted after his brother. "Sammy," his voice raising louder. But Sam had already disappeared, swallowed up by the storm.

Thunder boomed and lightning crackled across the sky.

"You idiot." Dean took a step toward the direction his brother had bolted and then logic set in.

The hail had stopped, but the rain still slashed down, soaking through his jacket already. He had no idea what Sam had seen or why he'd gone after it without a warning. 'Holy crap, Dean' translated into a million and one different things. Holy crap, Dean, there's a hoard of zombies, holy crap, Dean, a nest of vamps. Holy crap, Dean, there's no Wi-Fi. Holy crap, Dean, I'm going to hurl.'

Dean blinked against the rain, turning back toward the car. What the hell had the boy seen? "Crazy idiot," he sounded off, stomping to the driver side and nabbing the keys from the ignition and shutting the door. "Crazy, stupid, idiot." he rushed to the trunk and opened the hatch, hauling out the weapons bag. "What are you thinking? You know the rules, Sammy. No solo flights." Dean slammed the hood in anger. Rounding the car, he kicked the passenger door closed with a booted foot. "Sorry, baby," he shouted, and trailed after Sam, boots squishing down over the dinosaur-sized footprints left behind in the grassy mud.

Dark-purple clouds hung low in the sky, churning like the whites got mixed in with the darks inside a washing machine. Thunder shook the ground, and the rain pounded down like a roaring waterfall.

The trail Dean followed quickly washed out and he paused, nervously clutching the weapon's bag closer. Though it was daylight, he could hardly see through the driving rain and swirling fog, mopping water out of his eyes to no avail. He'd only slogged a few yards away from the road, and already could hear the crashing torrents of the river. It didn't take long for his nervousness to turn into dread. Breathlessly he strained to see. The chocolate-colored water was running fast and deep, about to burst the bank. The raging rapids were powerful, dragging everything in its path along with it, logs, bent-out-of-shape sheet metal and lawn chairs, a large blue and white Igloo cooler and Bling-bling of every shape and size.

Dean's gut wrenched. "Damn you, Sam. What the hell?"

Dean's gaze swept the banks of the river from one end to the other. He didn't know the specifics. Why his brother would take off the way he did. Either way was Winchester luck -things going bad fast. All they had to do was just think the thought and the bad stuff just happened. Thunder clapped loudly again and Dean's knees began to shake as something electric shot up his spine raising every hair on his body.

He called out, "Saaaaaaa-" The word lost, ripped from his lips by the shrieking wind, or maybe he'd choked on his own fear. Dean ducked his head, hiking the collar of his jacket up. "Where are you? " He paused a moment, rolling his eyes at himself as he pulled his cell from his jacket. "Come on, Dean, now who's the crazy, stupid, idiot," he scolded, quickly bringing up Sam's number.

The phone rang in his ear.

Think, Dean, think. What would have caused Sam to bolt from the car in the middle of a rainstorm, in the middle of the road, in the middle of nowhere?

Rain pounded down on his head and shoulders, bursts of lightning lit the air, and black clouds rumbled across the sky as if an angel stampede had broken out, all the while hurricane strength wind shredded leaves and branches sending them flying like confetti.

The phone rang outside his ear to the tone of Iron Man.

What the Shit? Dean glanced around. Another flash of lightning, and he caught sight of a sunken in puddle set right on the edge of the bank. He stared long and hard through the shower of rain for several seconds. Panic slowly crept in to replace annoyance and anger as he realized what he was looking at. It wasn't a puddle, but a footprint – size thirteen to be exact. Next to that-

A gasp escaped Dean's lips. "Jesus, Sammy," he stumbled to the bank, and snatched Sam's sopping jacket off the ground, his cell in the pocket. "Stupid, stupid, stupid," he mumbled, stuffing his phone back in his jacket.

What had he told Sam about going into the field solo? Not to! That's what. Not for any reason.

Dean realized the river was clipping along at speeds faster than his legs could carry him. The turbulent water, nothing but pure energy - and Sam –for whatever numb nutz, crazy reason- was clipping along with it.

"No,no,no." Dean did an about face, Sam's jacket in tow as he tripped his way through the messy, wet grass back to the Impala, horrible images of his idiot brother raging through his mind.

/~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ /

Sam knew he didn't have much time to work with. Why would someone stuff a tiny puppy into a burlap sack, tie a corded rope around it, and toss the helpless animal into a raging storm-flooded river? Sam's sixth sense was sharper than he thought. How he'd seen the poor, little dude from the road, through a foggy, rain splattered window sporting a concussion and fuzzy vision was plain crazy. He figured the water must have loosed the rope some, allowing the tiny head to poke out the top of the bag that was hung-up in the tangled mass of branches of a downed elm tree.

Sam dropped his jacket to the muddy bank, then tucked his tee shirt into his jeans and cinched his belt tight creating a sort-of kangaroo-style pouch. Without further thought, he waded out into the calf-deep rush of the mud mixed river, his shoes filling with water.

Rain, rain, rain came down, down, down, lighting flashed, and thunder boomed.

Sam was close to the trunk now, and noted it was sheared in half and striped of most its green leaves. Judging by the burnt wood smell, it had been struck by a bolt of deadly lighting - a victim of the storm. The tree, turned floatation device, was butted up along the river bank, and precariously trapped between several large boulders. Rushing waters sloshed over the branches, threatening to rip the puppy away – sack and all. The little fellow wouldn't last more than sixty seconds if that happen. The river would swallow the tiny animal whole.

"Bastards," Sam swore. He was going to find whoever did the stuffing and tying and strangle the sadistic freaks. "Hang on, little guy," Sam soothed, reaching up to work on untangling the rough rope.

The puppy yipped and yapped and wiggled not making Sam's job easy to free him. Sam figured the pup to be no more than six weeks old and weighing in at a whopping two pounds. He had droopy ears, a white nose and white eyelids that rimmed baby-blue eyes.

"What the…" Sam drew in a sharp breath. "Shit," he swore noting the rusted chain around the tiny animal's neck serving as a collar and worn so tight Sam wondered how the puppy was even breathing, let alone barking. As Sam worked the rope the puppy got excited yelping more shrilly, and fussing harder to break free. He was dirty, caked with mud, but Sam could tell the puppy was ghost-white – an albino.

"Come on, Al, stop wiggling so much," Sam said, nearly having the puppy untangled from the branch. "Crap," he muttered to himself, realizing he'd unconsciously just given it a name." He always did have a huge, open spot in his heart for dogs. Was always feeding the strays, tending to their wounds, and finding them homes- when he could- before their father would uproot them to the next town.

Dean – he was more like their dad when it came to dogs. The only dogs he'd ever come in contact with were the kind of vicious monsters they were taught to kill or the dirty-dogs he hustled at pool. This was no ferocious Black Dog, evil Hellhound, savage werewolf, or local barfly. This was a cute, soft, clumsy, pot-bellied, wet puppy. How could Dean refuse to help the little guy? Still, Sam doubted Dean would even let the poor thing inside the Impala, let alone take it to the safety of the nearest 'no kill' shelter. First thing was first. Rescue the puppy. He'd figure out a way to convince Dean later. Bribe him with pie, or better yet, beer and loose woman.

Something slammed heavily into the back of his knees. "Guh" Sam stumbled; his feet slipping out from under him and bringing him down chest deep. Cold river water soaked him through to the skin within seconds.

The puppy whimpered, as Sam struggled against the rising water that now seemed to come alive, grabbing onto him and pressing him up against the tree trunk. The large log pitched and rolled, flinging the sack, puppy and all, from Sam's reach. Sam scrambled to gain purchase against the gunky sludge-like riverbed, reaching up for the wet bundle. All he managed to do was lose a shoe, leaving it at the bottom of the river. The rushing water took hold of the log and before Sam knew it, he and the pup and the log were shot like a bullet away from the safety of the bank down river.

He cried out for Dean, doubting his brother would hear even if the wind and rain hadn't snatched his voice away. The river was explosive. White waves, like icy-cold fingers threatened to pull Sam and the pup away from the semi-safety of the tree as they went splashing down the waterway.

The puppy struggled hard, managing to free one front leg from the burlap sack. "No, no. Stop. Stay," Sam sputtered. If the puppy freed himself before Sam had a scruff of him, he'd fall into the river for certain and be swept away. Obviously too young to understand any commands, the puppy continued to worm its way out of the bag. "It's okay. It's okay." Sam stretched upward, his spine popping and shoulder damn near pulling from its socket as he grabbed onto the puppy's front leg and pulled. The river pulled back trying to dislodge his hold - a tug-of-war game the river seemed determine to win at.

The small pup - scared and shivering cold - didn't even try to fight to get away from Sam.

The monstrous stream continued to try and suck them both back down into its hungry mouth, and several times the powerful waters had almost succeeded.

"I got you. I got you." Sam gained control long enough to birth the pup from the sack and stuff the sopping wet pup down his tee shirt into his homemade pouch.

The puppy instinctively curled into a ball pressing up against Sam's bare skin.

Sam shivered, the little dude was cold and wet and his fur itchy, but he had bigger problems at the moment, the large tree trunk started rolling this way and that, and the world wavered in confusion. As the large mass of tangled branches teetered and tottered, Sam held on tight, careful not to let the tiny animal inside his shirt be smooched between his big bulk and the bulk of the tree. Waves of river water washed over them. Several times, the swells dunked them, sending muddy river water up Sam's nose, in his mouth, and gushing in his ears. Sam came up choking, each dip weakening him.

The puppy hadn't made a noise or even moved.

"Hey, hey. Al?" Sam worriedly tapped the lump under his shirt, quickly rewarded by a tail thumping alongside his ribcage. "Good, good," Sam coughed and spit water from his mouth, titling his chin up farther.

They were helpless, and at the mercy of the storm as the log they rode tossed up against other downed trees and rocks. At least that's what he thought the objects were as the misty fog obscured his view – or maybe that was just his own concussed eyes. Several times they brushed up against the bank, and Sam grappled for a hold of anything he could use to yank them from the water. That'd be a no go. His fingers were wrinkly and numb, and everything whooshed by too fast, and too mud slicked to gain any kind of hold. Now Sam understood how their dirty laundry felt – the river a suicide machine.

He sucked in deep breaths trying to keep air in his lungs fumbling to keep hold as the puppy started to once again fuss and whine. Sam gurgled and coughed, taking on water like a plastic toy ship tossed in a hurricane.

"Stay awake, Winchester." Sam struggled to keep aware.

His chest burned with pain and his head felt worse than the morning after, new found dizziness and fatigue threatening to take him into the darkness of unconsciousness. If that happened the puppy would surely drown. Briefly, Sam wondered if he could get a concussion on top of a concussion. Judging by how he felt, he figured the answer to that question was yes. What had he been thinking? Bolting from the car? Without so much as clueing Dean in on what was going on. He was an idiot and Dean was going to be pissed.

Sam's grip kept slipping as the tree/log continued to bounce and slam into unrecognizable debris. He wouldn't be able to hold on much longer. His fingers were prunes and completely deadened with cold. Sam tried to concentrate and roll with the river's punches, but he was quickly finding out rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river - wasn't easy.

"Nuh," Sam choked, shaking the tune from his head. Damn his brother's obsession with music. He squinted through the spray of muddy water, his predicament becoming increasingly clear – he was screwed. What to do now?

His father's voice came to him, muffled in his water-clogged ears.

When in trouble:




Sporting a concussion and freezing with cold made that impossible. The inner voice spoke louder, clearer.

When all seems lost:

Don't panic.

Stay alive.

Help will come.

The puppy let out a weak cry.

"Don't cr-cry. Guh-going to save you," Sam coughed.

It was getting harder to breathe. He'd swallowed a lot of water and his lungs constricted like a python had coiled around them. Squeezing, squeezing, squeezing.

Sam sucked in deep gasps of air trying to keep what little he did have left in his lungs and glanced around. The rope, that had tied the puppy inside the burlap sack dangled down from the thin branch, swaying wildly in the wind and the rain like the threads of an old flag.

Sam got an idea. Wasn't much of an idea, but it would have to do. Could backfire as much as anything, but it was a risk he was willing to take - for Al's sake. Gritting his teeth, Sam stretched upward, groping awkwardly, his skill-level inhibited by his stiff fingers and pounding head. The rope looked long enough, if he could just get to it, he could lash one arm to the leafless stubby branch that protruded out next to him and…

"Nuuugh," Sam cried out as the log pitched and he scrapped the side of his face along the rough bark. "Damn it," he cursed, missing the rope by mere inches. He tried again, this time grabbing hold and tugging until the rope pulled free of the branch. The world wavered in front of Sam's eyes and caused queasiness to surge through him. He nearly blacked out, but finally had his left wrist lashed to the protruding branch. He hoped it would hold. "Don't worry, Al, won't let you go." Sam muttered.

The puppy started to wiggle again.

As the tree pivoted from one side to the other, Sam moved in time with the motion. Though the rope cut deep into his wrist it helped him keep a sense of direction as he scuttled like a hamster trapped in its wheel, desperate to stay atop the trunk. The water was cold and stole his breath. The rope dug even deeper into his wrist, slicing like a hacksaw through water-softened skin.

Okay, so maybe it was a sucky idea, but it was at least a chance for Al.

The current was strong and getting stronger. Several times Sam lost his grip, but the rope kept him tethered to the log, though he cried out in pain.

The puppy nestled in his pouch, shivered and whimpered but otherwise seemed to be okay.

Sam on the other hand was having a hell of a time. His own waterlogged weight working against him, clothes soaked through and plastered to his skin and hands embedded with silvers, wrist bloody-red.

The tree continued to pitch and to bob, the river plunge and swirl. Sam's strength was draining, his head pounded and he was disoriented. The puppy seemed to sense his distress and wiggled upward toward his neck, tongue licking his chest as he went.

"No, no. Stay. Stay." Sam pushed the pup back down. "Sta-" Sam blacked out, only to be revived quickly by the hard, cold slap of the river. "Uhhh," he sucked in a huge gulp, half-air, half-water, floundering to get a better hold of the tree just as they were slammed up against a large rock, jarring Sam's already dazed brain.

"Aw! D'n," Sam cried, desperate for Dean to hear him, even though he knew he couldn't, desperate to keep his head above water as they were swept around a bend in the river.

Even though he was repeatedly dunked under, Sam tried to navigate using his legs as rotors to kick and guide them through the obstacle course of bizarre debris. A bathtub, a bicycle, the golden arches, though he wasn't sure, barely able to see through the torrent of rain and water.

He sputtered and gasped - his lashed wrist the only thing keeping him afloat in his weakened state. The log suddenly crashed into something else and they seemed to come to a sudden and complete stop. Tilting his head to the left revealed the highway of traffic -a bonanza of chunks and hunks and wedges of crap speedily flying past. Tilting his head right, revealed the reason their ride ended. They'd been rammed against a trashy mound of sticks, logs and who knew what else – a beaver- like damn. Peering through the rain, he recognized the fact they were butted up against the river's bank.

Sam grunted and grimaced as he began to fumble with the rope. This could be their only shot to get to the safety of shore. But first he had to untie the rope that had now become a death trap. He fumbled with tingly, anesthetized fingers that felt more like carrot sticks than flesh and bone.

Hurry, hurry, he had to hurry.

Sam groaned as he worked the awesome knot he'd tied. The braided rope was water soaked and frayed. His skin looked like a hunk of cheese, the rope- a cutting blade, grating a deep, bloody path around his wrist.

Sam finally undid the rope, jerking slightly away from the log and sending the puppy sliding from one side of the safety of the pouch to the other.

Paying no mind to his burning, blood-covered wrist, Sam tried to haul his drenched self-up and out of the water, clamber up onto the mound and get to the bank, but the river laughed and mocked him, not letting go. The puppy had gone quiet, and Sam nestled the fellow closer as he tried once again to pull his heavy body from the swirling water, when a loud bang came, jolting him back down.

"Ugh," he groaned.

There came another crash and another.



Sam's heart leapt and so did the puppy inside the shirt. He looked around, quickly taking in their newest threat, and it wasn't drowning or freezing to death. Things had gone from bad to worse. He and the puppy were about to become pancaked - the river's highway turned demolition derby. Chunks of debris slamming into, and adding to the growing pile they were trapped up against, like a giant magnet effect.

Sam held the puppy close, using his injured hand, his stronger hand reaching to scramble up onto the damn. That'd be a no go. He was too weak. Both arms had turned to Jell-O, his legs, fairy dust.

Titling his head skyward, he blinked up at the charcoal-gray clouds, rain pelting like buckshot to sting his face.

"Crap," he sputtered and gasped.

He was no match for the monstrous wrath of the frigid river. They'd probably been swept miles away from the Impala by now. How the hell would his brother ever find them? All Sam could do was clutch at the lousy log, fingernails digging into the bark and keep hunched over the puppy, protectively bracing for the hits.

Maybe the pup could survive.

Maybe his brother would find his mutilated body so he could at least burn his bones.


"Guh," Sam cried out as something sharp scraped across the small of his back."Idiot,"Sam gasped, feeling faint as darkness edged in and he slipped away from the tree, only a single breath away from going down for the last time.

Just as his head dipped under the river, something brushed past his hand. He instinctively grabbed hold and was yanked back up. "You called that one right. You're an idiot- in spades."

Sam's eyes bulged, extremely confused and afraid.

"Look up." The request was clear and strong and loud.

Sam's grip on the flimsy stick magically suspended in front of him slipped, heavy drops of rain splatting him in the face, blurring his vision. His eyes danced in their sockets, head first falling backward, than falling forward as he started to black out yet again.

"Hey!" A voice cried out. "Sammy, damn it, I said look up."

Sam slowly brought his aching head back up and breathed in short, quick breaths, barely aware.

A figure leaned down toward him, a frown on the face, bright green eyes connecting with his. "You okay?"

"I…how-" Sam shook his head and grimaced. "Deaaaan?" he whimpered.

"It's okay, Sam. Just don't let go, or river wild's going to take you hostage for good."

The stick Sam held suddenly snapped abruptly, and he slipped back chin-deep into the water.


"Dean!" He fiercely clung to the tree, heaving himself back up, digging his nails back into the bark.

Dean glanced around in frustration. Giant pile of twigs and not a one that looked strong enough to hold his giant-sized brother. Took a minute, but Dean finally found a branch long enough, and thick enough. Holding the antler-like ends down toward Sam, he growled, "Come on, Meryl." The mound beneath him shifted again. "Sam." There was no more time. "Grab on before this log ride decides to shoot the rapids again."

Thunder boomed through Sam's head and vibrated through his belly as he hacked and coughed and gagged, drool and bile dribbling from his lips.

"I know you took a hard knock to that idiotic head of yours, but you do still understand English… right?"

Sam didn't respond, to busy concentrating on keeping one hand white-knuckled to the tree, the other gently trying to secure the puppy – who obviously wanted off this ride – as he started to dig his way out the bottom of Sam's shirt.

"Sammy! Now! "

"No, I…naw," Sam gasped as the pup slipped half-out the bottom of his pouch, the river nearly stealing the helpless creature from him.

"Are you totally out of your mind?" Dean fixed Sam with an evil glare. "Come on, dude, work with me here."

"Nuu…uggggg-" Sam spluttered up river water.

"Grab on," Dean ordered.

A loud clap of thunder bowled across the sky, followed by a bolt of forked lighting. Like a breech birth being righted, the puppy did a turnabout, its tiny head popping out of Sam's shirt collar and licking his chin.

"Shh, shh." Sam tried to calm the squiggly, excited bundle.

Dean's eyes went wide, quickly clueing in on why his brother had darted out of the car in the first crazy, stupid place. "Are you friggin' kidding me?" he yelled. "Seriously?" Dean frowned deeply. "That's what you're risking your life for? A wet, smelly fur ball?" Dean ran a hand over his face trying to see through the rain. "Idiot!"

"Who's the idiot with the stick? We got plenty of rope in the trunk," Sam volleyed.

"I got matches and charcoal and lighter fluid in there too, Sam. Could have had us a Winnie roast," Dean said sarcastically. "There was no time to worry about grabbing anything. This beaver pile isn't going to hold."

Sam's head dipped down, submerging under the authority of the powerful waters.

"Sam!" Dean nearly fell in head first as he flopped flat to his belly. "Sammy!"

A millisecond later, Sam came up choking, wet hair draped over his eyes.

"Okay, Titanic, that's it." Dean scooted further over the edge, both hands holding the stick and stretching closer. "Hands, Sam, you'll need both of them! So put the dog on the stick."

Sam objected the idea, holding the puppy protectively tighter and shaking his head no.

"Give me the friggin' mangy pooch'," Dean barked, his angry, loud voice causing Sam to cringe.

"Sammy," Dean softened his tone, "Trust me, I'm not gonna roast him," he reassured. "Just give him to me."

"Not an it," Sam coughed. "Al." Sam slipped Al's steel collar over one of the thick prongs of the lowered branch.

"Shit, you named it?" Dean bellowed in shock. "When the hell did you have time to sex the thing let alone name it?" He tugged the puppy toward him.

The little guy wiggled and choked like a fish on hook.

"Got him, Sammy, I got him."

Sam stared, shivering up at Dean through wet bangs - a troubled look on his face as Dean removed the wiggle worm from the branch.

Dean sighed. "I'll keep it…Al safe," He shook his head, "Can't believe I just said that." Dean quickly tucked the weakened animal into his inside jacket pocket, zipping his coat up to his neck. "Your turn, Sam." He reached the stick back down, aware of the fragile life now snuggling against him.

Sam was shivering harder now, eyes squeezed shut against the frigid cold.

"Sam, pay attention and open your eyes!" Dean bellowed, the stick clunking him upside the head to gain his attention.

Sam's eyes remained shut. He felt like his whole body was freezing over, heavy and sagging, river swells lapping at his neck.

"Open them!" Dean barked his demand.

Sam slowly opened his eyes; clouds swirled above and water trundled on by all mucky and dizzying, or was that sky that was all mucky and dizzying? Damn, his sense of direction was seriously off kilter, the roar of the river and the howl of the rainstorm not helping matters. The pile of debris began to shake and shimmy - the tree Sam clung to, creak and swish - detaching.

"Friggin' hell." Dean shrieked. "This beaver damn's about to cut loose." He stretched powerfully downward as far as he could.

Sam craned his head farther back, so he could see Dean better; his brother's watery image bouncing up and down like he was on a trampoline. Somehow Sam reached up with one hand, making contact with the branch and wrapping his fingers around.

"Good. Good, boy." A flash of electricity zigzagged across the sky, bright as a bomb blast.

Sam frowned, staring at his other hand as if it wasn't his. The skin was raw wrist gory with blood. All five fingers hooked and dug in deep, locked onto the tree's bark mostly by sheer will of power.

"Hand's cramped," he groaned, trying to make the digits release their tenacious hold.

"No excuses, Sammy," Dean snipped. The puppy inside Dean's jacket howled. "That goes for you too, Al," he berated, then said to Sam, "Come on, buddy. Come on. You're going to have to use both hands."

Sam suddenly zoned out, slipping under the surface, his hair buoyant around his head looking like stringy seaweed.

"Sam!" Dean's gut twisted and his heart stopped. "Damn you. Sam, Come up for air."

Sam didn't listen.

"Right now!"

Wasn't more than two seconds later Sam obliged, coming up spitting river water and hacking.

"Don't do that, bitch," Dean berated, his heart beating again, but his gut remained twisted.

"Nu," Sam gagged, "Nu-no, kidding." With a loud moan, Sam forced his kinked hand to open, and reached up and latched onto the branch with the same powerful force of will he had used to hold on with.

Dean spit rainwater from his mouth, dragging Sam toward him in slow, jerking movements. With each tug Dean made, Sam seemed to be getting increasingly lethargic. "Man, help me, "Dean grunted just as something else crashed into the pile and he almost lost his hold, hand slipping over the wet, peeling bark. "Holy crap," he panted, fumbling to gain a better grip. "That's it. Here we go, here we go," he muttered more to himself, finally hauling Sam up atop the quacking pile.

Sam sat next to him, shivering hard and completely drenched.

Dean collapsed down beside him. "Son of a bitch," he panted, trying to catch his breath. "What's the rule about your ass going off into the field solo?" he questioned worriedly, peering into his brother's face. The kid looked like a dead fish. Hair plastered over his eyes, complexion pearly white.

Lightning flashed like a laser beam and thunder crashed.

"Sam! The rule?" Dean persisted.

"Not to…not to…not-" Sam's mouth went slack-jaw, and his eyes rolled back.

"Sammy! Dean frantically caught him by a soggy arm and gave him a rough, wake-up shake.

"Not to, for-" Sam gagged up a gush of water. "For any-"he gagged again. "For any-for-grrr," Sam choked.

"Okay, okay, forget it." Dean scooted in, pulling Sam close.

Sam was freezing, shivering against Dean and his throat burned. "Dee." His head bobbled, only half-conscious, chin plopping heavily down to rest on Dean's shoulder

"None of that, bro, we're not clear yet," Dean crooned musically.

Sam raised his head up, blinking hard at Dean. "Al?" He frantically gulped at the rain-filled air.

Dean patted the bulge inside his jacket. "I got the pooch, relax."

Sam did as requested and relaxed, going raggedy doll limp.

"Ho, ho, not that relaxed, gargantuan." He patted Sam's cheek. "I can't carry your waterlogged ass. Stay awake!"

Sam stared blankly at Dean.

Dean ducked his head to make eye contact. "Car's not far. Understand me?"

Sam nodded like a puppet.

"Good, keep it that way." Dean yanked Sam to standing. "Come on, we got to go."

"You're bossy," Sam deadpanned, wobbling.

"Bossy is what keeps you alive," Dean tightened his grip. "Now move," he ordered, taking a few tentative steps with Sam in tow.

"Bossy makes you a jerk," Sam mumbled lethargically, tripping over his own feet.

"We'll talk rank later." Dean held the puppy close, Sam even closer. "Gotta shag ass."

Something slammed into the woody pile - full brunt this time - and the whole thing started vibrating like a volcano about to erupt, the pile about to unhitch.

"Go, go, go," Dean yelled forcing them into a full on run as sticks and branches and shrubs s bucked and rippled beneath their feet.

It was like trying not to sink down into a heap of wet leaves or standing on a roof made out of straw. The sky started to turn blacker; the wind blew harder, lightning brighter, thunder louder. The damn shifted, changing shape, breaking apart as they ran.

Sam stumbled and went down to his knees. "Up!" Dean bellowed, nearly ripping Sam's arm out of the socket to get him on his feet and running again. "Keep going," he shouted, not breaking stride.

Beside him, Sam grasped a fistful of Dean's jacket, desperate to keep up. His legs were noodly and held all the grace of a giraffe wearing spikey high heels.

"Help me out dog boy," Dean chided, hopscotching them around a large sinkhole that just opened up in front of them.

"Helping," Sam coughed raggedly, a sudden shot of adrenalin keeping him vertical. "Al okay?" Sam glanced at the unmoving lump under Dean's jacket.

Dean shook his head in wonder." That soft heart of yours is going to get you killed one day," he snipped loudly, peeking inside his jacket.

Emotional, blue eyes blinked up at Dean, tail wagging, tongue hanging out in a panting, happy smile.

Dean suddenly felt a rush of warmth – on the outside. "Freak is more than okay, "his brow knitted, "little demon just pissed on me," he said keeping balance as they neared the edge of the heap. "Land ho, Sammy," Dean warned. Hanging tight to Sam, he took a flying leap, driving them straight off the mass, both their legs still moving, running on air.

They hit the river's bank smoothly. Tall, wet grass and mud squishing under their feet cushioning their landing as they did a little tuck and roll back up to their feet. Just in time too. There came a loud crack, like two rams butting horns. Sam and Dean whirled to see more than half the pile of crap washed away, including the log Sam had been clinging to.

"There it goes," Dean said.

"Ugh." Sam moaned his legs suddenly as useful as a soggy paper plate.

"And there you go." Dean tightened his hold, but Sam went dead weight. "Always with the bad timing, huh, Sammy," Dean growled, having no choice but to follow the boy down to the grass.

Thunder rattled the sky and lightning cracked like a lion tamers whip.

"Al." Sam strained to keep his head from wobbling side-to-side.

"Shut up about the damn dog." Dean cupped Sam's chin holding him steady and seeking his eyes through the kid's stringy mop of dirty, wet hair.

Sam was floppy weak. Mouth open, he gasped, "Is he…is he-"

Dean huffed, "Said the little bitch is fine."

"Al's a boy, Dean."

Lightning struck down close by, the impact rocking the ground beneath their feet.

"Whatever, man, gotta get you to the car, Sammy." Dean hauled Sam's 6'4" frame back to staggering.

Sam whimpered, barely able to hold his head up, let alone work his knobby kneed legs.

"Easy." Dean spun Sam, hiking him against his side and taking on as much of the kid's weight as he could. "Gottcha, I gottcha."

Soaked and cold, they lumbered through the wet grass, under the waterfall of rain, against the blow of the wind, lightning shooting like broken arrows through the swirling green sky.

"What were you thinking, Sam?" Dean scolded as they hit the blacktop. "Bailing on me like that?"

"'Eh… I….you-" Sam cocked his head staring at his feet. He wasn't thinking. He was a giant, quivering mass of nothingness – neither his brain nor body knowing which end was up. "I lost my shoe," he gurgled out.

Dean stopped, peering down at Sam's feet and frowning -one boot on, one boot off. "We'll just have to get your Fairy Godmother to fit you with a new one, okay, Cinderella?" Dean smirked.

"Okay, "Sam drawled, only half-aware.

Dean rolled his eyes. "What a dork."

The Impala wasn't far away. Parked at an angle along the side of the road, long, black skid marks behind her.

Dean propped Sam against wet, cold metal, crowding in on him to keep him put. "Stay," he ordered in a no nonsense tone.

Sam's chin dropped to his chest, fingers instinctively groping Dean. There was something he was missing, something important he had been doing.

"You are some piece of work, chucking yourself into knock-about-creek like that." Dean opened the passenger door, and lowered Sam carefully inside. "Here we go, pal, home sweet home." Dean leaned in long enough to pull a wet tangle of weeds from Sam's hair, then shut the door and disappeared.

Sam sank down into the seat, the springs squeaking under him. He was cold and woozy and struggling to keep awake; drops of muddy water sliding off every strand of long hair as if a raincloud or the river itself had followed him. The driver side door opened, more cool rain lashing in and dotting his already wet face bringing him around.

Dean slid in, also dripping wet and mumbling some crap about his seats rotting out. Starting the engine, he cranked the heat to blasting, quickly turning the Impala into an incubator.

Still Sam shivered. Hacking and coughing, he hunched forward gripping the dashboard in his struggle to control his fit.

"Hey. Come on now." Dean leaned across the seat, spreading one hand over Sam's hitching chest, the other to his heaving back, sandwiching the kid in. "Easy, Sammy. I have you," he pledged his allegiance. "Relax and breathe."

Sam squeezed his eyes shut, still unable to catch a breath between coughs. "I-" He pounded the dash with a tightly clenched fist. "What about… I…argghh," Sam rasped, desperate to gain control of the fit.

"Sam, chill. He's fine where he is for now." Dean said, feeling the furry lump inside his jacket pocket. "You mention that friggin' dog again and I'll punch you," he threatened keeping his hands poised, fingers splayed firm against Sam's chest and back.

Sure enough a few rattling coughs later Sam drew in a deep, shuddering breath.

Dean tugged Sam across the seat, closer to him. "Yikes," he sniffed, wrinkling his nose, "Go easy on the cologne next time Musky River is so not your scent."

"My head hurts," Sam murmured, eyes still squeezed shut.

"Stars or stripes?" Dean softened his tone, fingers tenderly examining the raw scrap along Sam's cheekbone.

"Twittering birds." Sam winced. "Blue ones." He shivered.

"Ouch." Dean cringed, letting his hand fall away.

Sam gawkily sat up, trying to peel off his wet tee shirt.

"Just sit still." Dean took over, tugging the skintight shirt over his head, a monumental task in the confines of the car.

Face trapped under his shirt, Sam's breath came in rushed pants of exertion even though Dean was doing all the work.

"Damn it," Dean complained, wiggling and wrenching Sam's shirt slowly upward. "It's like that time I super glued the inside of that damn Bon Jovi concert tee you wore the hell out of when you were a kid. You had to shower with the thing on for a week before the glue loosened enough to get it off."

"Jerk," came the muffled reply.

"Beats being a crazy, stupid, idiot," Dean shot back, finally yanking the shirt free and tossing the dripping clump over his shoulder to land with a splat on the back seat.

Goosebumps prickled over Sam's bear chest, and he slipped sideways against Dean, face mashing into his brother's neck, panting heavily.

Dean nabbed Sam by both arms and eased him upward.

Sam stared expressionlessly.

You spacing out on me, pal?" Dean asked, running gentle fingers over Sam's limbs and rib cage, noting his brother's skin was white and wrinkled, patches of black and blue impressively forming all over his body.

Sam didn't answer still trying to catch his runaway breath, wet cold and aching.

"No broken ribs," he said, staring at Sam's swollen right eye. "Got a nice shiner, I should shine the other side for you, but good, for pulling a stunt like that," Dean reamed. Reaching around to the back of Sam's head, his fingers searched coming back dribbled with blood. "Shit." His gaze snapped back up to meet Sam's. "Thanks a bunch, man." The worry creases between Dean's brows puckered into an angry frown. "You reopened my awesome stitch job," his said, accusingly. "You're still batting zero on the scoreboard there, Sammy." Dean placed a hand to the back of Sam's neck and pushed him forward, parting the hair where he knew the wound to be. "Luckily you only popped a few. This can wait." Dean sat him back.

"I'm o…I'm o-" Sam coughed, and spit river water from his blue-tinged, quivering lips.

"If you even tell me you're okay, I really will give you the beat down of your life. You're not okay, Sam, you're a mess and you're an idiot…a puppy loving, crazy, stupid-"

"I take it you're not-not happy to see me?"

Dean ignored the question, asking one of his own, "Do you realize you were swept eight miles down the road? Eight, Sammy. I couldn't drive fast enough in this shit." Dean waved a harried hand at the outside storm. "I-"he bit into his lower lip, digging his fingernails into Sam's skin, surely adding more bruises.

"Owe." Sam weakly jerked away.

Dean held firm, hard eyes doing all the talking now.

A few moments of silence sailed by, save for the barrage of rain beating like machine gun fire against the car.

Unable to hold Dean's stare any longer, Sam's gaze slid sideways. "H-how'd you find me anyway?"

Dean shook his head, "Bro, I could find you on Mars, even if I landed on the friggin' moon," he bragged.

Outside the storm carried on.

"You're awesome," Sam murmured.

"And what if I wasn't so awesome? What if I was a dick, Sam? What if I was a big dick and couldn't find you?" Dean's fire reignited yet again. "What if-"Dean's lower jaw quivered, his green eyes watering. "What if I found you and you were," Dean swallowed, "What would I do then? How could I live-?"

There came a tiny yelp from inside Dean's jacket, but he was too freaked to pay attention.

"Sammy, you do that again… I will kill you…I will bury you…then I will dig you backup just so I can go and kill you all over again," he breathed all hot and bothered.

"You said-" Sam frowned deeply confused. "What?"

"I'm the boss of you, Sam. Me. I am your boss," Dean babbled on.

"Cold, wet," Sam mumbled, fingers moving to undo Dean's jacket zipper and get to the puppy.

"It's my job. Dad said so. You do what I say, when I say, how I say, and you don't get a say."

"Yeah, 'kay," Sam conceded, shaking hands reaching into Dean's jacket pocket.

"Dude! Stop probing me." Dean gently pushed Sam's hand away and pulled the puppy out by the scruff. "I'm fine. I can do a lot of things naked, but driving's not one of them."

"Some-someone tossed him in the creek, tied up in sack, tried to drown him," Sam rambled between hacking coughs.

"Yeah, okay, dog's best friend. Here." Dean handed the wet mutt over . "Take him." Dean shrugged out of his wet jacket, tossing the leather to the backseat. "Little freak's been trying to breast feed for the last ten minutes," he grouched, trying to sound badass. Truth was he wanted to find whoever nearly stole his big-hearted brother from him and toss them in the creek. Dean tugged his shirt over his head, then reached to the floorboards for the earlier discarded blanket.

Sam held the puppy close to his bare chest. "He's fr-fr-freezing," he stuttered with cold.

"You both are." Dean covered Sam's upper body, tucking him and the puppy under it, then reached to unbutton Sam's jeans. "Lift up a little," he grunted, fighting to pull Sam's skintight pants past his hips. "Need to get these off you."

"That's sick, "Sam protested, through chattering teeth, one hand coming up to rub at his forehead.

"Sam, anything you got, I got better, so stop fussing. You need to dry off and warm up."

"Nuh-nuh-no." Sam kept right on fussing.

"Dude, shut it. Me boss. You idiot," Dean chimed, using a 'Tarzan Lord of the Jungle' tone.

Sam tilted his head, looking confused.

"Let me make this clearer," Dean pointed a finger at his chest. "Me Han Solo," he said, then poked Sam in the chest. "You Chewbacca. " He continued jabbing his finger back and forth between the two of them. "Martin, Lewis. Simon ,Garfunkel. Kirk, Spock. Ken, Barbie – you're Barbie –ha. Get it, Sammy. Or do I have to carve it into your brain," Dean raised his voice to booming.

Sam squeezed his eyes shut. "Think you already did," he said, hand flopping weakly to the seat.

The puppy slipped off Sam's lap to the seat, then jumped down to the floorboards and started sniffing around.

"You're crazy ass is forbidden to sleep, Sam. Not happening. Get it!" Dean barked, one-handedly snatching up the wet fur ball and shoving it back at Sam. "Your buddy here…the one you risked your stupid idiot life for… needs you."

"Uhhhhhh," Sam groaned his stomach all gurgly. He was exhausted and sore and his head felt like someone was marching around inside banging a spoon against a metal pot. Damn, he didn't want to throw up, but he couldn't stop thinking about throwing up. "Don't want to sleep, feel sick." Sam took charge of Al, the little tongue lashed out, licking his pale-green face over and over again.

"Hey, there will be no throwing up in my car either. Not from you," Dean glanced down at the puppy, "And certainly not from you, Scrappydoo." Dean's attention went back to Sam, hard eyes going soft. "And yes, Sammy, of course I'm happy to see you." Dean put the car in gear and pulled back out onto the wet road, driving slowly through the tumbling rain.

Sam settled against the passenger door, the puppy curled in his lap. "Dean?"


"You do your job very well." Thanks, Dean.

"Yes, I do." You're welcome, Sammy



Outside, the huge storm brewed on - violent and cold and noisy.

Inside, the motel room was cramped, but dry and warm. The walls were freshly painted a cheerful yellow, some sort of classical painting - Dean was certain Sam knew the name of- hung on the wall, and a vase of fresh flowers sat on a dresser next to a sculpture of a naked woman without a face.

"Why would you ever want- "Dean shivered from his head down to his toes. "That's just creepy," he remarked, hanging his white undershirt over her face to dry.

Several hours ago, he'd wrangled Sam and the puppy inside, gotten them cleaned, patched up, and bedded down. Now he could take a break. Grabbing a beer from the mini fridge and a bag of jerky from his duffle, he relaxed against the headboard of his bed, feet crossed at the ankles and flipping through channels, the volume of the television on low.

A commercial advertising Al's Auto World came up.


Al Pacino's epic movie,' Scar Face'. "Seen it like twenty times," Dean mumbled, pointing the remote at the idiot box.


A rerun of Married With Children.

"Gotta love Al Bundy." Dean glanced down at the puppy lying at the end of the bed by his feet. "But you have to admit," he directed toward the little guy, "There are way too many Al's in this world." Dean set the remote down, and dug a hand inside the bag of jerky.

The puppy, now clean and dry and puffy white, sniffed the air, eyes searching the room, until he spied the source of the smell. Clambering awkwardly to his feet, and tail wagging, he padded across the comforter, sitting a few inches away and looking up at Dean with big, sad, puppy eyes.

"Go away," Dean grouched.

Al didn't move, except for the twitching of his tiny pink nose.

"Fine, here." Using his teeth, he tore off a piece of jerky and offered it up to the puppy.

The puppy still didn't move, looking nervous and iffy at Dean's gift.

"Look, Al, I'm the awesome brother here," he informed, reaching over to the nightstand and grabbing a bottle of beer. "Sure my gigantic, hearts-on- a- string brother saved you from drowning, but know this…the big idiot would be feeding you tofu and coconut milk," Dean snarked, taking a swig of beer. "Al. It's a stupid name for a dog," he said, jiggling the boneless, tangy meet in front of the pup in a teasing manner. "I'd have named you something cooler, like Rocky, Clint, or killer." Dean cocked a head at the puppy. "You like that name? Killer?"

The puppy ignored Dean, eyes shifting to follow the strip of jerky.

"Brainless mutt." Dean glanced over at Sam, sleeping on his back on the next bed only inches away. Kid was still out cold. Checking the digital clock on the nightstand he noted he'd have to regrettably bring Sam back to consciousness in a few minutes. "You know I've been watching out for him since he was six months old, hasn't gotten any easier either," Dean sighed, keeping a critical eye on Sam. "He gets into a lot of trouble," he laughed lightly, "Fucking good at it. Something of a rebel, always striking out on his own, I could kill him sometimes." Dean savagely shook the thought away. He'd kill himself before he ever laid a finger on Sam.

Al cocked his head to the side, obviously confused and staring at the beef jerky.

"You're as stupid as my brother." Dean looked back over at Sam suddenly silent, save for the muted voice of Bundy yelling at his wife Peg.

Outside the slotted blinds of the window, the storm had blown out like birthday candles, leaving behind only gray mist and dripping rain. A warm gentle nudge came to his hand. Dean stared down as the puppy started licking his fingers, teeth nipping at the piece of jerky still held in Dean's hand.

"Look, pal, there are things I just won't do; letting you kiss me is one of them," Dean said, but didn't yank his hand away from the darting tongue. "You're lucky I don't dump you back in that river. Your ass almost got my brother's ass killed." Dean frowned. "Course it wasn't your fault some sick bastard stuffed you in a bag and tossed you overboard."

The puppy continued to lavish kisses to Dean's hand.

Dean sighed deeply. "Then there's the stuff I'll do only because I know Sam would want it." Dean smiled at Al. "Guess you're one of those things," he said, lifting the bundle and letting the pink tongue bathe every inch of his face. "Okay, okay," he chuckled and set the puppy back down, finally offering up the freeze-dried meet. "Here, boy."

The pup took his treat and settled down next to Dean, jerky between his paws, gnawing on his prize.

"Oh, man," a harsh cough came from the next bed, "Dean?" The word spoken roughly, ripping from Sam's throat.

"Right here." Dean quickly slid off his bed, feet barely touching the floor as he carefully sat on Sam's bed, not wanting to jostle the kid. "Shh, right here, dude." He brushed back his brother's hair, leaving damp strands sticking up punk rocker-style.

Sam squinted at Dean. "Mmmm," he moaned pathetically, turning to stare at his wrapped wrist, cushioned on top two pillows.

"Skin is good and mangled, but it's not broken," Dean told him. "You're a mess of bruises and have one hell of a concussion, but you're going to be okay."

Sam blinked in agreement. He ached all over.

"Just lay still, you're going to be down a few days." Dean leaned over Sam, tucking the motel comforter in tighter. "Better?" he asked.

Sam squeezed his eyes shut. "Yeah, sure," he coughed hard, back arching slightly.

"Easy." Dean flattened a palm to Sam's chest, gently pressing him down. "Open your eyes, Sam," he ordered, straightening. "Test time."

"Not stupid," Sam whined, eyes fluttering open.

"No, you're more than just stupid. You're crazy and you're an idiot too boot. That's a step down from being stupid just so you know," Dean informed.

"Whatev-" Sam started coughing again.

Dean didn't say anything more, fingers spread wide over Sam's chest rocking him softly until he stopped hacking. He waited a few extra minutes being sure Sam was done, and then cocked a brow at him and said, "Ready for the test?"

"Just get it over with,"Sam sighed, melting deeper into the mattress

Dean drew his shoulders back and sat up straight, but kept his palm on Sam's chest. "Where are we?"

"Sunset Motel," Sam answered quickly.


"Name?" Dean demanded with a stern look on his face.

Sam sputtered, his chest rattling under Dean's hand. "Sam. Sam Winchester."

"Also, correct." Dean nodded approvingly, "Rank?"

"Devoted slave," Sam groaned, his hand coming up toward his aching head.

"Devoted employee," Dean revised, "Serial number?" He captured Sam's hand in his, lacing their fingers. "Don't touch that," he said bringing their hands down to the mattress and holding on. "Serial number," Dean repeated, "And you better get it right this time, dude."

Sam's eyes fluttered. "KAZ…2Y5."

"Good devoted slave," Dean shook his head, "I mean employee."

"Ha ha," Sam laughed dryly, barely able to stay awake. "Where's Al?" He tried to turn to look over at Dean's bed, but his neck was stiff and his head felt like someone was trying to hack out of his skull using a sharpened axe. "Mmmm-" Sam stopped, a grimace crossing his face.

"Pencils down, Sammy, you can close your eyes," Dean whispered.

"No, need to-"

"You need to rest. I'll take care of the pooch, and in the morning I'll find one of those shelters you love so much to take him to," Dean assured. "Just be ready to wake up in a few hours for another crazy, stupid, idiot test."

"Wonder what you'll want to know next?" Sam grumbled.

"Nothing much, just the date of your last period," Dean chuckled, getting up and hopping back onto his bed.

"Hysterical," Sam coughed.

"I'll be right here, Sam, if you need me."

"Reassuring," Sam breathed out, eyes drifting shut and head slipping to one side – fast asleep.

"Dean nodded to himself. "You did a good thing, Sammy, even if you scared the crap out of me." Dean sat back on the bed. "Looks like it's just you and me," he informed the full-bellied puppy stretched out on Dean's pillow, one paw laying on top the remote. "Scooch over you half-drowned rat."

The puppy woke, climbed into Dean's lap and burrowed down.

Dean grumbled, shutting the TV off. "You're the master of all things heart and soul, Sammy," Dean whispered, shakily. "That really scares me." He hugged the puppy close and fell into an uneasy sleep.

The end.

- We Are Their Voice {Stop Animal Cruelty}

AN: If you get a chance over at Supernaturalville in the next few days, I will be posting this story and you can see the amazing banner Chris made to go along with this story. Thank you for your time and care in reading!