A Brother's Guilt

Chapter Three

Back at the motel:

"You know, this strong silent thing just tends to piss people off, Dean.

"Go…back to Hell, asshole…argh!"

Waking up a few hours ago with a pounding headache made all the worse by the lump on the back of his head, his stomach twisting in nauseous waves and pain surging all over his body, Dean Winchester at first thought he'd drank a bad bottle of liquor…then as things began coming clear he wished it was that simple.

Finding himself tied to the motel bed with heavy ropes that one look told him wasn't breaking easily, the young hunter struggled to clear his eyes only to feel his stomach bottom out a moment before his anger began simmering because no matter the pain Dean was in, no matter the doubts and guilt he might've been suffering that night he was still certain of one thing. The son of a bitch standing over him casually flicking a switchblade open and closed sure as hell was not Dean's little brother.

Time lost meaning for Dean since he'd figured out what this visit was about…if not the full reason for why he wasn't dead…or dinner yet. Determined not to give this smirking bastard wearing Sam's face the satisfaction of hearing him scream, Dean fought the pain each new cut or burn caused until the fun of toying with him became boring and the 'Sam' clone got bored and kicked the activity up a notch.

Now after hours of playing, 'Sam' was beginning to get tired of this and it showed when he got rougher, the cuts longer and when he pulled new tricks out.

"You know Purgatory isn't in Hell, Dean," he chided chillingly, while making sure the ropes were still tight and noticing the blood on the ones holding his captive's wrists. "This is going to go on a long time at the rate you're holding up. I figured I'd be done by now."

Throat raw now that he couldn't bottle the shouts up as much since 'Sam' had began using methods of pain that Dean hadn't even seen used in Hell, he swallowed hard while still managing to throw a glare up at this thing wearing his brother's face. "Been here…done this," he spat, seeing blood when a hard fist slammed off his skull and he felt the heat again only a second before something hot and metal was drop on his chest and this time he couldn't fight the scream that came.

"True, but my kind is much older and much more creative than what you dealt with in Hell, little boy," the Leviathan clone told him, waiting until the coin had cooled to peel it off and smiled at the cry of pain that caused. "Tell me something, Dean…how long did you think that your brother, the precious little boy that you've fought your whole life to protect, to raise, to shield, had finally had enough of your crap and turned on you?" he asked curiously, running his thumb over the edge of the silver knife he'd pulled from Dean's own bag to dip it in the jar of liquid he'd sat on the nightstand. "You sure thought it was Sam when you opened the door. How long after waking up to me cutting you did you figure out that things weren't right?"

Chest on fire, head pounding but not from the amount of whiskey he'd drank that night since it had all but left his blood the moment the pain started, Dean's green eyes were glassy from shock but he still managed to make them focus on this face that he'd known all his life but just felt fury at. "Knew…you weren't…Sammy…before you nailed me," he managed to grit out, struggling but losing the fight not to scream when the knife slashed a shallow cut over his arm and feeling it ignite in agony. "You…stupid sons of bitches…got everything down but…forgot the one thing that my brother…never would."

Frowning at that, 'Sam' considered that then shrugged. "No matter, you won't be making it out of this room anyway and then we'll see how fast little Sammy will break," he smiled upon seeing the flash of panic that crossed Dean's face. "You still worry about him. Even though he walked out on you…again. Even though in his heart of hearts, Sam despises everything you stand for, everything you let happen to him while trying to 'protect' him…despite him wishing that you'd stayed dead…you still would fight to keep him safe."

Pushing the burst of pain those words caused aside since he knew they were just being said to make him doubt himself and his little brother again, Dean was clear on one thing. "I'll die for Sam…and since Cas knows that you may as well…kill me now."

"So, you're not as dumb as we thought," the clone smirked, considering his next weapon of choice while placing a hand over Dean's heart and pressing. "Your ex-Angel buddy knows all about you and since he did so do we and that's why he knows and we know that no matter what you won't stop trying to stop him…us because of the risk we pose to your little brother. I think I might keep you alive long enough to see Sam die because while you were smart enough to figure out that I wasn't him…I bet that brother of yours will believe that you turned on him.

"Pity really. You killed that Kitsume to protect him, you lied to him to make sure he wasn't hurt, had him turn on you because you didn't want to see him break…and it'll be your face that he sees when he bleeds out," 'Sam' the clone's smile became cold as he pressed harder until he heard the broken scream cut off into gasping chokes. "The boss wanted to make you suffer because you're such a pain in the ass. I think I'm going to enjoy watching you choke to death on your own blood, Dean," he remarked, still keeping pressure on Dean's chest while reaching for the blade just as the door to the motel room came crashing in on itself.

"Dean!"

Pure instinctive panic had Sam Winchester reacting to the threat his older brother was in without thinking that he had nothing on him that would even dent this thing currently wearing his face but then he was only aware of the sickening thump his heart was making in his ears the moment he seen what was waiting for him inside the room.

"Well, this wasn't what I was expecting," the 'Sam' clone remarked, keeping the blade in his free hand but he did step away from the bed and the badly injured young hunter to confront the original article. "Sam, we expected you to be halfway back to the crazy old man you work with. I mean, your big brother did lie to you. He did mistrust you…again, he did…"

"Shut. The. Hell. Up," Sam gritted through clenched teeth, sick to see this thing with his face and voice but that was nothing compared to the anger he was feeling at the moment at the sight of all the blood, the shattered and broken furniture and the battered, bleeding and burned body tied on the bed struggling to breathe. "Get the hell away from my brother."

His chest still burning while the pressure that had been on his heart made breathing a near impossibility, Dean had been fighting for air when a sound got through his own gasps and made him struggle harder to come out of this because he'd heard the deeper, pissed off tone that his little brother only got when truly angry but his concern for Sam outweighed his own injuries.

"Sammy, you should've kept running," 'Sam' replied, spreading his arms in easy over confidence. "What can you do to hurt me? I can slit his throat and rip your heart out before you could even move toward him but…" he paused to look between the brothers. "Just to humor me, why did you come back? You were told in that jail how Dean really felt for you? How he thinks you're just one step to full on crazy so why…"

"It's Sam," the furious hunter corrected tightly, knowing he needed to keep his concentration locked on this clone but it was so hard when all he wanted was to get to that bed and to his brother. "Only my brother can call me that and you aren't me, you will never convince me that you or another like you are my brother. As for why I'm here?" Sam let his eyes briefly flick to the bed where they locked for just a brief second with glassy green ones. "I'm a Winchester, I'm his brother and I'm sick and tired of assholes like you screwing with us," he snapped, not liking the way Dean's chest was moving or the blood on his face. "Tell Cas, or whatever the hell is in Castiel that your kind can hurt us, you can burn down Bobby's house, you can plaster our faces all over the goddamn world as killers but you cannot, you will not ever break us up. You will not ever hurt my brother while I'm still alive."

Not sure if this sudden self assuredness was a good thing since they'd been told that the best way to beat the Winchesters was to throw a wedge between them, evil 'Sam' kept a sneer up since he knew he still had the upper hand. "Nice speech," he admitted then stepped closer to Sam. "Of course, your big brother isn't in any shape to save you and you rushed in here without any plan or backup so…what?" he frowned at the sudden small smile that Sam showed. "I can kill you both and end our problems and you find that funny?"

"No, I find it funny that despite everything Castiel knows about us that you still think I was stupid enough to come in here without a plan…even though for Dean's life, I would have," Sam replied, offering a silent prayer that he did have backup in some form or another. "My plan's a little sketchy but…I'm not alone."

"Bobby boy ain't coming, kid," 'Sam' shot back then gasped as he looked down to see a huge burning and gaping hole in the center of where his chest had been. "Wha…?"

"Hey, Levi-booby, been a while," the way too cheerful voice of Loraleigh spoke from the door as she waved a painted finger to shift Sam out of the way while she moved fluidly. "Oh, by the way…my boss says to tell your boss that the Winchesters are off limits before he kicks all your black gooey asses back to Purgatory."

Sam knew this girl had bounced evil Angel butt back at Bobby's one time but he wasn't certain if she could fully handle a Leviathan and was looking around quickly for something to use as a distraction when he saw the hole already starting to heal.

"Little Angel, my kind has been eating your kind for a snack for centuries," evil 'Sam' sneered, knowing he'd have fun with this meal. "Look at what we did to Castiel," he bragged when light flashed and he screamed as brilliant light flew over him and then there was nothing.

"Cas was a foot soldier in the Garrison with good intentions. I've been far more for far longer, monster," Loraleigh's long red hair was now floating as the air around her seemed charged as she lowered the thin bladed sword after flicking black goop from the blade. "This vessel doesn't begin to show my true age, bunky…not that it matters much to you now."

Stunned by the very fact that there was nothing left but a black goopy outline on the floor, Sam slowly turned to stare at this young girl. "I thought…you told Bobby that you were…"

"What? You thought Mikey was the only one with a cool sword?" she smiled brightly, tone back to the perky one she normally used while she gazed around the room to be certain the thing was dealt with. "Guardian Angels have more ability than the Angels you're used to dealing with, Sam and…when we need to we do have these nifty swords but…" her eyes seemed to move and the hunter swore.

"Dean?" Sam forgot his confusion and his wariness when he whirled to cross the room in two huge running steps to drop next to the bed to grab his brother's face in between his now shaking hands, not liking the bluish tinge to his lips or how cool and clammy his face felt. "Dean? Answer me! It's Sam…can you hear me? Dean!"

Pushing the building panic down, Sam forced himself to calm down in order to check on his brother while knowing he needed to get out of this place and put some distance between here and possibly more bad guys. "Dean? Please, open your eyes…" jerking his knife out of his boot, he quickly cut the bloody ropes that were holding his brother's wrists to the bed before reaching down to slice the rest of the offending ropes until he knew Dean was free of them.

Seeing the array of burns and bleeding and messy looking cuts on his brother's arms, chest, neck and stomach made the younger man's stomach flip but he quickly buried that in order to check for a pulse and blew out a breath when he found it beating strongly if a bit unevenly but a look into one eye told Sam that Dean had a concussion by the way his pupil appeared then he saw the coin shaped burn.

"Oh, God," he whispered, lightly running a finger over it but jerked back the moment Dean groaned and twisted but didn't wake up after passing out finally when he'd struggled too hard against the pain and the ropes. "Is he…will he…?"

Peeking over Sam's shoulder, the petite Guardian Angel bit her lower lip. It was her job to keep Sam safe from danger while it was Ariel's to protect his brother but even she knew Dean Winchester was hurt seriously.

She knew the boy would heal from the physical outer wounds and should heal emotionally if he and Sam overcame this latest bit of drama but for Loraleigh it was Dean's inner wounds that the Leviathan had caused in the first moments of the attack that worried her.

"He'll be fine, cutie," she assured him while moving a hand casually as if to brush a piece of hair back from Dean's forehead and used what little power she had left after dispatching the 'Sam' clone to heal the internal bleeding that would have claimed his life soon. "You need to get him out of here though. You both need to clear out and lie low for a little while because he needs to heal from this."

Understanding what the girl was saying, Sam nodded then looked around the room before finding Dean's single duffel bag and phone. The duffel he tossed in the car, the phone he stomped on in order to keep it from being tracked back to them.

"Dean? It's Sam…I hope you can hear me but I need to get us clear from this mess before seeing how bad you're hurt," being careful not to hurt his brother more than he knew he was already, Sam slipped the arm with the least amount of injuries over his shoulder to pull Dean's limp body up then gently eased him into the very compact car they had at the moment. "God, I hate this car," he muttered, wincing at the mumbled words and low groan he heard and wishing for the Impala right about then.

Making a final check of the room, Sam was reasonably certain that there was nothing left that would point either the authorities or anyone else back to them. He was stepping away from the bed when his gaze caught something just under the edge of it.

Kneeling down to look, he felt his breath catch when his fingers touched the photo. Growing up ever since he'd been sixteen Sam had hated to have his picture taken and would normally refused or tensed at the sight of a camera.

This photo had been taken on the day of his high school graduation. The day itself had been bittersweet since his Dad had failed to show for the actual commencement. Dean had been there for it.

It was Dean who had saved up to be able to afford to give his brother a decent graduation present but for Sam it had been when Dean gave up a night out playing pool to spend it with him that was the best gift and it was because of that day that Sam felt at ease enough to allow the photo of him and his brother to be taken by a friend at school.

Sam had lost his in the fire at Stanford and he had been certain that Dean had tossed his out in the time between Sam going off to college and now so to find it now, dropped under the edge of the bed as if Dean had been looking at it before he'd been attacked made his throat tighten.

"You'd be surprised what Dean has in that duffel," Loraleigh remarked from the door where she was keeping a close watch on the car and Sam. "He might play stoic and cynical but your big brother really is a softie at heart…though he'd gouge his eyes out before admitting that."

"I know," Sam whispered, pocketing the photo and grabbing the journal his brother had begun to keep in order to replace some of what was lost when Bobby's place burned up their Dad's book. "Loraleigh, can the Leviathans be killed?" he asked, needing some hope that they could possibly win this.

Leaning against the car door after Sam had closed it, she blew out a breath. "Once upon a time, my kind could have wiped them out just as easily as we can demons or evil Angels but…" she shook her head. "Their time in Purgatory has made them stronger. What I just did, I can maybe do a couple more times in this decade but…they can be killed, Sam," she told him. "They may be cocky, arrogant and ugly but they're not invulnerable so just keep your head attached and it'll all work out. Just remember what I told you earlier, cutie."

Looking up, Sam started the car but paused before putting it in gear. "I know," he assured her, glancing next to him at the brother he'd slowly begun to understand had acted only to protect Sam from future harm. "I won't let them win and I…won't lose him. Thanks for helping. Will I…will we see you again?"

"Cutie, I'm your Guardian Angel. I'm always with you even when you can't see me," she smiled, winking as she stepped back from the car. "Now, scoot and call that truck cap wearing old man before he heads this way and be careful."

"I will," Sam assured her then blinked when he noticed the girl was gone and he put the car in gear while hoping he could get them someplace safe and just prayed he hadn't lost his brother fully this time just as his phone went off. "Hey, Bobby…"

Five days later:

Soft rain falling on a tin covered roof was the first sound that Dean Winchester heard when his conscious mind first started waking up. Memories scattered for the first few moments, he laid still to try to bring things back into focus when his chest hurt the first time he tensed.

He recalled the two Leviathans clones getting him and Sam back on the FBI's Most Wanted list, then he recalled Sam learning about Amy and walking away. Finally he remembered the rest and felt his pulse jump because his last memories were of being tied and tortured for hours by a clone wearing Sam's voice then he blearily thought he heard his brother's real voice just as things all went black.

Now, uncertain where he was or who he was with, Dean stayed still to try to gather his wits while slowly flexing his fingers to discover that his hands were no longer bound even though they were stiff he could move them.

Biting back a groan when he moved his head, Dean cautiously let his eyes open to slits just to examine his surroundings since he could tell he wasn't in the motel any longer. Seeing a rustic looking room cluttered with stuff seemed to tell him where he was…he just wasn't certain how he'd gotten back to the cabin that Bobby had taken to using as home and base.

Laying still a moment longer, Dean finally decided to risk it and opened his eyes fully to look around. The first thing he noticed was that his multiple wounds had been carefully cleaned, stitched and dressed with an almost obsessive perfection that he'd seen once before.

Remembering each wound and their cause made Dean slowly reach up to peel back one of the gauze pads when a low cough from the door had him freezing.

"You touch that bandage and I'll slap you, ya idjit," Bobby Singer came in to place a glass of water and a bottle of pain pills on the nightstand. "If you're smart, you'll lay back down, take the dang pills and go back to sleep until you heal some more because I can promise ya that you won't make it out of this bed without a huge fight."

Wincing at the voice when it seemed to echo through his head, Dean was only to happy for the pain pills though he would've preferred something stronger than water but a stern look from the older grizzled hunter told him that he wouldn't be getting that. "Thanks," he mumbled, voice low from days of not using it and he assumed the screaming he'd done at the end. "Bobby…what happened? Did you kill that thing or…"

"Dean, I was only halfway to you when I got the call to turn around and come back here," Bobby told him, keeping his voice lower than normal when he asked. "What's the last thing you remember?"

Moving a little and gasping as his chest hurt, Dean could recall the pressure on his chest then hearing… "Sam," he whispered, frowning. "That…think looked like Sammy but…I heard…I thought I heard my… but Sam was…"

"You did, Dean. You did hear Sam," Bobby nodded to one side then laid a hand on his shoulder but kept the touch light since he suspected how the boy would react to any touch right now. "I'm still not sure what the hell happened or how he did it but it was your brother that got you loose, tore back here and then wouldn't let me help him with you. The damn idjit insisted on taking care of you by himself and finally fell asleep a few hours ago…after Jodi…Sheriff Mills laced the coffee he's been downing by the gallons with Scotch."

Looking over toward Bobby was watching, Dean finally saw his little brother and drew in a breath. Just that simple description told Dean what must have happened and explained the careful precise stitches and well placed bandages…which were much better images than thinking of Bobby and the Sheriff.

"I'd…gotten hurt on a hunt one time. Sam was probably fourteen or so but he and Dad…were fighting pretty heavily that hunt and I…got distracted and took a hit that knocked me down a small hill," Dean began quietly, pushing up slowly as if testing his body's response to that action and when he didn't throw up or pass out he took that as a good sign despite Bobby's warning glares. "Dad blamed Sam because I was trying to get him out of Dad's line of sight when I went down so when he got me back to the motel Dad told Sam since it was his fault that I was hurt, he could patch me up. Then he went back out and didn't come back for a goddamn week," he still could recall the panic in his little brother's huge eyes when he had to put stitches in or set a dislocated shoulder and then fight the infection that came later. "Sam…now, when he's in mother hen mode will become obsessed with doing it himself."

"Stubborn idjit Winchesters," Bobby growled while also throwing some silent curses toward his late friend over how he treated his sons when they were growing up. "Just stay in the damn bed and don't break anything else," he ordered, leaving the bedroom because he knew that Dean wouldn't do anything until he checked on his brother.

Hissing as a long gash on his side pulled when he finally managed to get to hit feet, Dean swayed a few times before he took the few steps across the room more crowded by their stuff and as he looked it appeared as if Sam had moved every piece of their gear into this room in case he needed it in a hurry.

Seeing that Sam appeared to have finally fallen asleep at a small desk that had been moved in from the hall, he noticed that his younger brother had pillowed his head on his crossed arms next to both his open laptop and Dean's journal while he recognized pictures that he'd had out in the motel were now scattered around Sam as he slept.

"Sam?" reaching out a wary hand to lightly touch the closest shoulder, Dean frowned when he realized his brother was once again wearing an old worn out hoodie that he could've sworn they threw out even before his time in Hell.

Unsure what had brought Sam back since Dean was aware that when his little brother got pissed it took a lot longer for that anger to wear off, he suddenly remembered the tone he heard Sam use on his evil clone but also caught the way Sam appeared to be shaking in his sleep and he knew without touching him what was wrong.

"Sammy?" Dean moved a hand to touch Sam's hair only to pull back to watch his brother's sleeping face. He used to do this when Sam was small because he could always tell by Sam's face how he'd sleep and just by the tightness of his mouth, the way he'd placed a hand under his chin and the rapid blinking of his eyes under closed lids told Dean that his little brother was wire too tight and when he woke up he'd be frightened.

For years Dean had only tried to keep Sam from being hurt or frightened so not knowing what had happened after he passed out worried Dean because he was angry with himself as it were that Sam had been hurt finding out what he had. He hated the thought of Sam possibly being hurt worse because he'd come back to hash this recent problem out only to be caught in the middle of a damn nightmare.

"Sonuvabitch," he muttered, sitting on the bottom of the other bed and not covering the groan fast enough this time. "Damn…Sam."

"Huh…Dean?" waking up at the noise that seemed to have come from next to him, Sam rubbed sleep from his eyes with his fist before remembering where he was and why and shooting straight up only to have a hand pull him back into the seat before he fell from standing too quickly. "Dean!"

"Easy, Sammy. Just take it easy," Dean urged, coughing to both try to clear his dry throat and also to cover the emotions threatening to come. "You look worse than I feel. Though I'd suggest sleeping in a bed…not on a desk."

Still blinking sleep from his eyes, Sam's immediate response to the sudden voice was to move quickly but days of not sleeping, not wanting to eat and only drinking coffee made him both jittery and off balance so as he was turning toward the voice he'd been praying to hear he felt himself dropping and then heard a grunt and a muttered oath.

"Damn, Sam. What the hell did you do to yourself?" Dean hadn't been expecting his little brother to nearly faceplant to the floor and barely had the strength to catch him when it almost happened. "Sammy! You in there or…"

The sudden caution in the gruff voice made him focus bleary eyes on his older brother. His next reaction was also pure Sam and one not totally unexpected…just surprising.

"Dean!" lunging forward, Sam's arms grabbed his surprised brother in a tight hug that took the older Winchester back to the morning that Sam woke up ten days after having his soul returned to him and had reached out and clung to Dean much like he was right then. "You're awake!" he exclaimed, relief plain but then his own exhaustion began coming through. "When'd you wake up? Why're you outta bed? Are you alright? You should be…"

"Whoa, whoa, Sam, slow down," Dean managed to understand the rush of words only because he'd raised his brother and had gone through this plenty of times but not in a long while so it took him a minute but the moment he felt Sam shaking he tightened his arms as much as he had strength to right then. "You're as hyper now as when Caleb was a moron and gave you pure sugar cubes as a snack one day. I'm awake…not sure I should be but…hey, little brother, easy."

Still expecting Sam to be angry over learning about the lies he'd been keeping from him, the last thing Dean expected was to see was the tears brimming in large overly bright hazel eyes. "Help me back to the bed and then you can tell me what happened after I went out," he suggested, knowing that would bring Sam down long enough for him to try to get a grip on what was causing this break.

Swallowing the sudden burst of emotion that had came upon seeing his brother awake and moving, Sam scrubbed at his eyes then carefully touched Dean in order to help him up to move back to the other bed but it seemed as if he was almost afraid to touch his brother for fear of hurting him.

"I…didn't mean to fall asleep, De'n," Sam was saying, unaware of when he began dropping a letter in Dean's name much like he would as a child and frightened.

He'd helped his brother back to the bed but the moment he began to step away as if to give Dean space he felt fingers grip his wrist. "You need to rest and I'll clean those later or…" he was continuing while unaware of the grim eyes watching him until he found himself pulled to sit on the side of the bed. "Huh?"

"Look at me," the order was firm but the tone wasn't the harsh one Sam expected to hear so he automatically looked down to meet his older brother's eyes. "Dean? I'm sorry I walked away. I shouldn't have left. You shouldn't have been alone. You shouldn't have had to think that I'd…"

"I knew it wasn't you before I got knocked out, Sam," Dean broke in, guessing that was one of the things bothering his younger brother. Propping a few pillows up, he leaned against the headboard so he could keep his eyes on Sam and easily read the emotions not being spoken out loud. "Sure, for about ten seconds I bought the act because I wanted to believe that you'd come back…that I hadn't screwed up with you again but then it hit me and then I got hit literally."

Having to pause to take a breath anyway, Sam stopped and forced his whirling brain to stop too as he thought on that in confusion. "How?" he asked, not getting that since his clone had seemed perfect to him. "He looked like me, he sounded like me, he…"

"Yeah, but when I hug you and it's you, you respond like you've always responded since you were big enough to hug back," Dean replied then added while glancing down to see something. "That isn't what gave him away though. This is."

Reaching down to lift his brother's wrist, Dean tapped the black band that they both once wore and that Sam had recently started wearing again. "Your mini you didn't have this and I knew then that it wasn't you, Sammy. I wouldn't have blamed you for being mad enough at me to strike out cause I did the one thing I swore I wouldn't do again. I lied to you…I went behind your back and hurt someone you asked me not to and I'm sorry but…what made you come back, Sam?"

"You're my brother," was the simple reply as Sam just looked at his brother as if confused by the question. "Dean, I should've talked to you and not walked away but it hurt to find out like I did. It hurt more that you didn't trust me than finding out about Amy," he admitted, turning his hand over to grab Dean's wrist before he could move it. "Ummm, permission for a brief chick flick moment?"

Chuckling, Dean nodded while reaching for the glass of water. "Sam, I have a concussion and my chest probably looks like a tic-tac-toe board so I'm hardly in any shape to argue over anything so just go ahead. Get it out and then I can call a do-over," he invited.

"Ignoring the perky Guardian Angel who showed up to tell me that you were in trouble, I'd been thinking it through and…" Sam bit his lip much like he would as a kid when having trouble saying what he wanted. "You've been drinking these days because you were upset. You didn't want Osiris to call that third witness because you knew it would be Amy and you didn't want me to find out you'd killed her like that. You didn't tell me about Amy because you knew I'd be upset which in the end is why you turned around and killed her so it didn't turn into a repeat of Madison and…"

A flat palm shot up in front of his face much like Sam expected it to because he'd felt his brother's body go rigid the more he talked. "You killed Amy, you kept it to yourself, buried the pain and guilt like you always do because you were trying to protect me from being hurt in the future if we ever had to handle her," he went on quietly, dropping his eyes uneasily. "I didn't get it at first but you were just doing then what you've always done. You were protecting me as best you could and I'm sorry I…"

"Ooookay," Dean breathed, feeling very uncomfortable with this so-called moment of chick flick but knew he'd asked for it so he made himself stay still when his basic response would be to make a snide remark, irk his little brother to the point of Sam walking out and missing it. This time he felt he needed to face Sam with it and slowly moved a sore arm to reach up to grip Sam's neck and squeezing lightly. "You really thought that out, didn't you?" he muttered then coughed.

"We've been busy or I might've figured it out before the whole clone thing," Sam admitted with a shy smile, surprised to feel the grip on his neck but didn't move away from it because this had always been a way for Dean to show comfort or silent support. "I came back when Loraleigh told me you were hurt but I would've come back anyway because we're brothers and I…I need you, Dean," he spoke quietly but rushed those last words out. "I think I'll always need you no matter what I've said in the past, you're my big brother. You've been the one with me when I've needed someone and…we're not stronger apart. I…"

Squeezing again, Dean swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat at those words then he sat up to use the grip he had on Sam's neck to gently pull his younger brother's head down to meet his much like he had years ago. "I will always kill to keep you safe, I will die to protect you, little brother," he murmured, voice hushed with more emotion than he'd show normally then took as deep a breath as he could to go on. "I normally don't say this unless you're out cold because when I say it at times like this I get the full on Sammy power puppy dog eyes that I've never been able to resist since I taught you how to use them but…I love you, Sammy. You're my baby brother and I don't mean to hurt you when I do stuff but I will always trust you, Sam.

"I have trusted you with my life since the first time I taught you how to shoot. Even when we fight, there is no other man I want to have my back but you. You will be the only other person to ever drive our car…though if you jack her up again I might slap you," Dean smiled, feeling tired but more relaxed than he had in weeks. "Now, I feel like crap and will probably sleep for another few days but…are you hurt? Did that son of a bitch hurt you or…"

"No, he got blasted by Loraleigh then I got you out of there," Sam replied with an absent yawn, missing the smirk his brother got at that. "If I hadn't walked out you wouldn't have been hurt and…"

"And if I had told you the truth you wouldn't have gotten angry, Sam," Dean countered, shifting slightly on the bed to move over with a mild wince. "Cas knows how we are, he knows how to hurt us so that's something we're gonna have to sort out because like you said, we are not stronger apart and I'm not losing my little again…ever," he vowed, giving a final squeeze to Sam's neck before giving a careful tug. "Now, take a nap before Sheriff Mills does more to you than just spike your coffee."

Blinking, Sam found himself laying down with a blanket tossed over him as his brother moved more to the edge but stayed sitting up so he could move if he had to or just fall to sleep sitting up like he'd done many times before. "Dean?"

"Go to sleep, Sam. You pulled my butt outta the fire. You protected me this time so now go to sleep so we can get back on the road and find a huge bottle of floor cleaner to kill these sons of bitches," Dean told him, carding his fingers through Sam's hair and knowing the moment the kid started to relax because Sam's tight grip on the pillow had loosened. "Sammy? Did you get your butt bailed out by the little Angel again?"

"Nah," Sam yawned, rolling over so he was facing his brother while gripping the blanket much as he had years earlier after a nightmare or a vision and Dean would sit with him. "I was playin' pool and she showed up…then she blasted Leviathan butt."

Rolling his eyes at that image, Dean smiled while covering the wince since he knew he'd be in pain for awhile but he'd never let Sam know that unless he had to because his little brother might have said that he'd gotten over a lot of his guilt he knew that Sam still felt guilt over some things and this would be one of those.

"Dean…no more lies though, okay?" Sam asked as he fell to sleep. "I know I still have…issues but you can trust…"

"I do trust you, Sammy," Dean promised, feeling himself growing tired but stayed still rather than move to the other bed when he felt his sleepy and still upset little brother move closer as if seeking the familiar comfort and safety he only got when his brother was near. "No more lies either but I will always protect you…no matter what I have to do. We good?"

Nodding, Sam opened one tired eye to smile. "Yeah, Dean. We're good," he murmured, blinking at something. "Dean…why's Sheriff Mills around?"

"Never mind, Sammy," Dean coughed, hearing the groan that came while Sam mumbled about bad images while falling to sleep. Only when he was certain his brother was asleep, did Dean slowly peel off the bandage of the coin burn and remember the bold threats offered by the Leviathan. "Hurt my baby brother? Not happening," he vowed to himself, shifting on the bed to get more comfortable before going to sleep himself and promising that one way or another this world crisis wouldn't end with one of them in a hole.

The End

Author's Note: Thanks for reading this. I think I have one more tag planned for this episode but from an Evil-Dean/ Sam standpoint that isn't connected to this one but it wouldn't be fair not to give Evil Dean a try, lol. Stay tuned.