Well, here's another randomly-inspired tag. Again to Mystery Spot, as this is my favorite episode. I'll just get right to it then. .o I hope you like it, and please review!

Disclaimer: The Winchester boys belong to Eric Kripke, not I.

-:-

The gleaming black Impala growled deeply as it flew down the road. It was mid-afternoon and they were finally reaching the border of Florida in their retreat from the ill-fated Broward County.

Dean cast an anxious glance at the passenger seat where the sleeping form of his brother was twitching fitfully. Sam's brow furrowed and his teeth ground in unconsciousness at some lingering emotional turmoil of the past hundred Tuesdays. Dean reached over and lay a hand lightly on Sam's shoulder, and after a moment he seemed to settle and breathe more evenly, and only then did Dean pull his hand back to set it on the steering wheel.

Dean still found it hard to believe that Sam had lived through over three months' worth of Tuesdays, reliving his death over and over, when he himself had endured merely one death-free Tuesday—that he could remember. But one look into Sam's haunted eyes chased away all doubt that something big had deeply disturbed his brother. And no matter what Sam said, Dean knew there must be still more to what happened, because even what the Trickster had put him through—Dean couldn't even fathom how horrible it must have been—didn't warrant the sudden over-protectiveness. He huffed fondly. That was his job.

Dean had only just a half hour ago managed to convince Sam he could handle driving on an empty road and to take a nap. He'd seemed so exhausted and broody, like he hadn't slept well in months and had aged five years. But he wasn't talking, and Dean would just have to wait and see if Sam opened up.

Breathing out, Dean checked Sam again out of the corner of his eye and noted with satisfaction that his brother was calm and still, the side of his head resting on the sun-warmed glass of the window. He was sleeping dreamlessly, for now.

Wanting something to occupy his mind, Dean decided he could turn on the radio quietly now without disturbing Sam's slumber. He adjusted the dial to find a local classic rock station that wasn't too staticky, and softly tapped his hand on the wheel to the rhythm of the Metallica song that was on.

Nothing changed but the songs on the radio for the next twenty minutes, Dean tossing peeks over at Sam every couple minutes. He slept on, shifting only minutely.

That was when the first notes of a familiar song beat through the speakers and Dean smirked in approval. Heh, Asia again? This station has good taste. He threw a look towards Sam, who was still inert in sleep. Dean knew this was the song on the radio yesterday that woke Sam up to—must have woken up to every single one of those Tuesdays Dean didn't remember—but it couldn't hurt, right? He was sleeping soundly now.

Nevertheless, Dean turned the music down half a notch, though it was still loud enough for him to hear. Hey, he liked this song, and he mouthed silently along. "I never meant to be so bad to you.
One thing I said that I would never do..."

But the second the singer uttered the first line of the chorus... "...was the heat of the-"

Sam's eyes shot open in shock and he flew up from his serene position, seemingly not recognizing where he was. He blinked rapidly, and Dean could see as horror and grief instantly flooded Sam's eyes when he gasped, "No! No, no, no, not again..." His head was whipping around frantically, as if trying to find something, or someone, and reached out blindly towards the car door.

"Hey, HEY! Sam! Sammy, calm down." Dean was already pulling over, cursing as he immediately switched off the radio. He skidded to a halt on the side of the road and turned to his nearly-hyperventilating brother. He grabbed Sam's shoulders to hold him steady and maneuvered him so he was able to look him in the eyes. "Hey, easy, easy. I'm right here, see? You're okay." He brushed Sam's hair from his face so he could maintain eye contact. "It's okay, I'm okay, it's Wednesday, remember? Wednesday. No more freaky, Groundhog Day Tuesdays."

Now that Sam wasn't looking through Dean and realized they were inside the Impala, his eyes began to gradually clear of the terror and dismay, and he clasped his hand tightly in the supple leather of the front of Dean's jacket. Dean's words seemed to get through to him because his heaving breath slowed.

Dean rubbed Sam's arm soothingly and gave a small smile. "Hey, Sammy, you okay, now? No more freak outs?"

Sam's eyes shone suspiciously, but he nodded, swallowing. "Yeah. Yeah, sorry... I'm okay." He unconvincingly sustained his grip on the lapel of Dean's coat, though, like he needed to remind himself his brother was still there.

He let his head dip down so his eyes were hidden and he took deep, quivering breaths. A few seconds later, without warning, he tipped forward until, to Dean's utter surprise, Sam's forehead came to rest on Dean's chest, his own hitching with the memories of all those mornings he awoke to another day of facing a new way for his brother to die. Never any way he could stop it from happening. And then that first relief-then-grief-filled Wednesday...only to be followed by more Wednesdays...and Thursdays, and Fridays, and Saturdays, and...

Dean hadn't realized the depth of how shaken to the core Sam was until now, though he'd caught the vestiges of anguish in his gaze earlier at the hotel before he'd tweaked an obviously-forced smile. He moved his hand up to cup the back of Sam's neck in reassurance, Sam's hair tickling his chin as his younger brother trembled slightly. His voice was gruff with restrained emotion, "Hey, Sammy...I'm here now." He yearned to comfort his troubled brother now, because soon...soon he wouldn't be here anymore. He closed his eyes and clenched his jaw as he held Sam closer to him.

He now knew that was what Sam must've been thinking ever since they left the motel. Sure, he was out of the time loop, Dean wasn't dying over and over again...but it would only be repeated again, not long from now, for real and permanent this time around. He'd give anything to spare Sam anymore pain, wished he could. He'd lived through it himself back in Cold Oak, when this whole thing had started, that desolate emptiness and crippling loss as his brother, kneeling in the mud, died in his arms. And that was only once—God, once was more than enough—not an endless chain of horrific deaths. Dean's own heart ached just thinking about that dark time, and could only imagine how bad it must have been for Sam, and how bad it would be in a few months. And he felt regret for it all.

Dean rubbed his thumb softly against Sam's neck, brushing his hairline as he spoke again quietly, "Okay, man, no more Asia." He felt Sam's huff against the front of his shirt. He'd stopped shivering and was pulling in breaths unwaveringly now.

After another moment of silence, Sam leaned back, letting Dean slip his hands off Sam and unclenching his own fist from Dean's jacket, uncovering a lapel of now-crumpled fabric. He shifted back into his own seat, not meeting Dean's gaze in slight embarrassment. "Uh, sorry."

Dean slowly smoothed out the front of his jacket and let out a small sound of acknowledgment. He waited a moment before speaking, not in annoyance, "Yeah, well, hey. If you really hate a song that bad, dude, just say so." He turned sparkling green eyes and a teasing grin on Sam. "No need for the theatrics."

Glad that he could always rely on Dean to lighten an awkward moment, Sam rolled his eyes. "Yeah, sure, Dean." Then he murmured sincerely, "Thanks." For being here now. Like you've always been.

His eyes now fixed ahead as he shifted the car back into gear and turned to check for cars, Dean moved the Impala back onto the road before he replied, just as softly and sincerely. "Anytime." And he would be there, wouldn't take their last months together for granted, as long as he could. Dean kept an intense gaze on the road stretching before him. Even longer, little brother.