When You're Beside Me

Summary: 'All his solutions – all ways of fixing this – one way or another led back to his brother. And his brother wasn't with him on this one.' / Tag to 5.04 / includes flashbacks with Weechesters & Teenchesters ;)

Disclaimer: Disclaimer? What disclaimer? You think I actually need to do this right now? Cause, clearly, if any of the fans ran the show, season 7 so would not be this heart-shattering. :'( Still – CAS! *heart* :D

Also – title, from the line "I feel alive when you're beside me", song 'Time of Dying' by Three Days Grace. Almost had my own thought-up title, but hey – couldn't bear to break the trend I've got going. x)

Note: Yeah, I know – everyone and their grandma's pet hamster has either written or thought up of a tag for 'The End', and yes, it could get redundant. Well, too bad. My one's different. *nods* Really. Don't believe me? Check it out yourself. *flashes innocent smile*


"Dean, it doesn't have to be like this. We can fight it. "

"Yeah, you're right. We can. But not together. We're not stronger when we're together, Sam. I think we're weaker. Because whatever we have between us - love, family, whatever it is - They are always gonna use it against us. And you know that. We're better off apart. We got a better chance of dodging Lucifer and Michael and this whole damn thing, if we just go our own ways."

"Dean, don't do this."

"Bye, Sam."

~Season 5, episode 4: 'The End'


He lowered the phone when the line went dead. Stared at it. Numb.

It shouldn't have surprised him.

It shouldn't have.

But it did.

Sam dropped his cell into his lap. His mind was swirling with thoughts. But he was numb, blank, felt nothing – nada, zilch, zip, zero-

That wasn't true.

He wished it was.

Dean cut him away.

Soft trembles shook him.

His whole life, the one constant that was always there, the one person he could always rely on – was his brother.

His brother, who thought it would be better if they... went their separate ways.

His brother, who turned him down on his scared pleas to help, when Sam confessed about being the Devil's freaking vessel.

His brother, who...

Had taken so much crap from him it was a wonder he hadn't shattered under the strain by now.

Sam deflated, dropped his face into limply crossed arms on the table in front of him, tremors coursing through him like miniature waves.

Dean had always been there to go back to, had always been able to fix Sammy's problems – and even when he couldn't, he put on his determined game face and tried anyway.

Had always promised Sam he'd be there for him, look out for him – that nothing could ever get to him without going through Dean first.


A hyperactive ball of flailing arms and broken cries flung itself at Dean, clutched on so tight it was like he wanted to stick to his brother forever. "Dean! Dean I'm sowwy!"

"Hey, shh, Sammy, it's okay." His big brother's voice soothed him like always, the hand tousling his soft hair calming the halting breaths escaping him and the comforting hand rubbing his back never stopping.

Sam pulled back a little and peered up at him, his four-year-old face clouded with fear and the remnants of his earlier panic, wide hazel eyes tearing up and lower lip trembling as he haltingly spoke. "Y-you told me to s-stay Dean and I didn't and I got lost and- and-" He sniffled, a lone teardrop making a bid for freedom down his cheek. It wobbled at the edge of his chin before falling, only to be absorbed by the older Winchester's jacket.

Dean sighed and pulled his baby brother into a hug again, letting him rest his head wearily under the crook of his neck. "It's okay, Sammy," he repeated, feeling his own panic dispense at the familiar feeling of his brother, his responsibility, in his arms. Even at eight years old, his mind had outplayed a lot of scary situations Sammy could have gotten into, and he was just so glad he was fine. Safe. "We found you, didn't we? It's all okay, you're okay now. You're safe."

A calm silence passed over them, each young boy sitting and revelling in the presence of his brother, before Sammy said quietly with a waver in his voice, "I fought you lef', Dean."

The comforting, safe arms of his brother tightened around him, and he rested his chin on top of Sam's head, his sure and confident words washing over him the way his breath made Sammy's hair pick up and sway. "I'm never gonna leave you, Sammy. Ever."

A "Pwomise?" in tentative yet hopeful childish tones.

"Promise."


The trembles hadn't stopped.

Sam clenched his hands tight enough to feel the nails digging mercilessly into his palms. Or almost feel it, anyway. It was like a phantom pain, someone else's instead of his. The only pain he was aware of right now was the aching shivers in his chest, the resonating twinge with each heartbeat, and his heartbeat must have been too fast, 'cause focusing on it made him dizzy and it was like his chest was about to tear apart.

He swallowed hard. Didn't move. Didn't get up. He couldn't. What would he do? He couldn't raise his eyes in fear of meeting Lucifer's coldly amused ones across the table. He didn't have the strength to go anywhere just yet.

The excruciating finality of Dean's words, the firmness in his tone – it hurt Sam like nothing anyone had ever done or said to him ever had. Not hearing Dean admit to Dad's final words pretty much confirming that he – Sam – was destined to become a freak evil monster; not the knowledge that his brother was going to Hell because of him, nor that he couldn't possibly do anything to stop him; not the four months without him, the ache of lying to his brother's face as soon as he'd returned, the sickeningly self-satisfying way he'd fought Dean unfairly and almost strangled him; not even when Ruby showed her true colours after two years of supposedly helping him, the bitch.

No – none of those even came close.

Because this time, this time he knew that whatever Dean decided – well, he was fully entitled to it. Sam didn't deserve to have a say in it, because it was all due to him that things had gotten this bad between them.

It was his fault.

And, what, now he expected Dean to take back what he'd said and come rushing to clean up his messes, to go to extreme lengths to save him, again?

A bitter and derisive snort escaped Sam. No, he didn't.

But still... expecting and hoping were two different things. And he had honestly thought – hopedwishedprayed – that Dean would...

Would what?

Drop everything and come back? Promise him that Lucifer will never get to him? That they'll fight him off like every other thing they'd faced?

Right. 'Cause it was ever that simple.

But his brother always made it seem so...


"Sonuvabitch..."

Sam flinched at the anger in his brother's voice, but his fury-filled green eyes weren't on him. They were glaring down at the creature dissolving on the ground in front of them, his hands tightened around his handgun.

Hot white pain shot through Sam's leg as he tried to get up, and he couldn't stop the whimper that it elicited. It drew Dean's attention, though, and the 14-year-old quickly spun around and crouched down next to his brother, stowing his gun away. He cursed upon seeing the bleeding gashes on Sam's shin before raising his eyes to scan the younger boy's pale, sweaty face.

"You okay?"

The words were roughly-spoken but the concern and worry lit up his eyes as the anger ebbed away. A hand ghosted over the wounds and Sam couldn't hold back his wince as his brother carefully straightened his leg out on the floor, shucking his jacket off to rest it on so the cuts wouldn't get infected from the dirty forest floor.

Dean glanced at him apologetically. "Just hold on, Sammy. I'll wrap it real quick."

"Dad's going to kill me," Sam groaned.

"Hey." Dean shot him an quick, easy grin, before returning his attention to his brother's leg. "If some whacky monster dude couldn't get to you with me here, you think Dad would?" he teased lightly, earning a wide grin from the ten-year-old.

"Awesomest big bro ever," Sammy nodded proudly, eyes looking more green in the dark – conveying the unspoken 'love ya, bro'.

"Just doing my job, bro." An equally silent 'you too'.


He was halfway to the door when he realised he'd forgotten his phone on the bed. Stumbling back to pick it up, he paused at the cold sixth sense of someone's watching. Sam swept his eyes around the empty, silent room. Or something.

He locked his jaw, grabbed the phone off the bedspread, and strode out. The air was cool on his face and he sighed as he shut the door, leaning back on it with his eyes shut, letting the wind and the natural stillness of midnight wash over him. He breathed in deeply, trying to calm the shudders of his hands, the stuttering quick tha-tha-thump rhythm in his chest.

His cell was a cold discomfort in his hand. Its silence seemed to be mocking him, reminding him of the fact that he was alone now. He wearily fought down the urge to throw it hard against the gravel floor. What use would it be now, when the one person he wanted – needed – to talk to refused him?

The breeze seemed to mock him now, too, whispers of 'we're better off apart' and 'go our own ways' tantalising him. Words that held the weight of the breaking of a hundred promises made before.

Sam shoved the phone in his pocket and marched on, head hanging low, bangs falling limply over his eyes. He didn't have a destination in mind – just get away, get away now – but he found himself automatically unlocking a car parked on the side and sliding in, hotwiring it without having to think. He subconsciously registered the type – a black classic Chevy Malibu. Dean would be proud, he thought with a wry grin.

It fell flat after a second.

The engine roared to life and he backed out of the parking spot, heading to the freeway swiftly.

He couldn't clear his mind.

'You know, on that basis alone, we should just pick a hemisphere. Stay away from each other for good,' Dean had said. That was what hit Sam the hardest. Everything before that was a blur – those words were the ones that stuck in his mind.

For good.

Sam's eyes burned. The dark road blurred in front of him and he eased his foot off the accelerator.

Dean... didn't mean that. He couldn't have. He didn't.

But that was the problem. He did mean it. He was serious, and thought it was for the better, and maybe he was right and they should stay apart, but-

Sam couldn't.

He didn't want to. Being alone, not being in contact with his brother, not knowing what his brother was doing... he couldn't. Not after Dean went to Hell.

And especially not now.

'I will kill myself before I say yes to you.' 'And I'll just bring you back.'

Dean declined his plea for help. Sam told him that Lucifer was after him as his meat-suit and Dean said no.

What was he supposed to do?

All his solutions – all ways of fixing this – one way or another led back to his brother. And his brother wasn't with him on this one.

For once, he felt the sting of being on the receiving end of the deal when his brother left him. Only, this time, it was for good.

Dean said so. And he meant it.


Sam was a surly sixteen-year-old. Especially after another one of his and John's infamous arguments.

He trudged down some quiet street of the random, out-of-the-way town of the week, hands shoved deep in his pockets, shoulders hunched, a string of the worst curses he could think of escaping his lips.

Three days. Dean had only been on his quick solo hunt for three days and they were already ready to bite each other's heads off. Sam snorted as he imagined what Dean's reaction would be. 'What, you two need a freaking babysitter when I'm gone, or somethin'?'

His phone rang. He pulled it out and glanced at the display screen – an ironic smile quirking his lips. Talk of the devil...

"Hey, Dean." He hoped his brother wouldn't pick up on the tension in his voice. Having another argument with his brother too over following Dad's orders or whatever was not so high on his list of favourites at the moment.

"Sammy! Nice of you to call and check up on your big bro," Dean's joking response came almost immediately.

Sam grinned, feeling his apprehension dissipate as it always did when he talked to Dean. "What, now you admit you need someone checking up on you?" he shot back easily, falling into the brotherly banter as easily as walking. "The notorious Dean Winchester can't hold his own against a mean little spirit?"

Dean's bark of laughter was followed by a "Watch it, dude – I'm not the one who got knocked out for four solid hours by a 'mean little spirit'. A girl, too. And you call yourself a Winchester."

"Oh, come on," Sam mock-groaned, turning a corner back into the street their motel was on. "That's just uncalled-for, man, I was still recovering from the-"

"Wendigo attack, uh-huh," his brother completed, a grin in his voice. "Details, Sammy, details. We both know who it is who can't hold his own against a ghost, here." He paused, apparently for dramatic effect. "Want a clue?"

"Let me guess," Sam deadpanned, barely holding back the amusement in his tone. "His name starts with 'dick' and ends with 'head'. Close enough?"

"Dude!"

Sam laughed at his 'notorious' brother's indignant whine. He glanced ahead and saw his dad's Ute still parked in front of the motel room, the lights still on. Not feeling like going back in yet to face a confrontation – or more likely have to sit and deal with the tense heavy silence sure to be hanging in the air – he found a good wide tree and sat under it, legs stretched out in front of him.

A comfortable silence fell over the phone as their chuckles died away. Sam opened his mouth to ask how the hunt was going, but Dean beat him with a too-casual, "So, what was up with you?"

"What?"

"When I called. You sounded like someone had kicked your puppy down in front of you then made you watch them feed it to the sharks."

Sam made a face. "Dean, that's sick."

He could practically hear the eye-roll over the line. "Don't change the subject, man." Dean fell silent but when Sam didn't say anything he sighed – the sound coming out as a rush of static on Sam's end. "You and Dad fighting again?"

Sam felt the defensiveness rising in him like always, and he was about to respond with an indignant snarky reply, but-

He really didn't feel like going into that.

So he just shrugged and said nonchalantly, "Nothing new."

The quiet frustration was clear in Dean's tone. "Seriously, if neither of you have exploded by the time I get back, it'll be a freaking miracle. What're you gonna do now? Sit and stew in silence while Dad reloads and cleans out the guns for the tenth time?"

Sam rolled his eyes this time then quipped, "No, we're gonna sit together and watch American Idol while exchanging banter on whether the Impala's better than his Ute – what do you think?"

"What do I think? I think no other car in the world compares to my baby, that's what," Dean answered wittily.

Sam snorted and picked at a tear on the knee of his jeans. He hesitated, then spoke softly, "Hey, Dean?"

"Yeah." His brother's tone instantly dropped to match his, suddenly solemn.

More wavering as he considered the sudden uncertainty in the back of his mind. "You won't ever leave me, right?" He flushed as he realised how lame the words sounded as soon as they were out of his mouth. He hurriedly added, "I mean – you know, going on your own hunts – me being stuck with Dad isn't all that appealing, right-"

"No."

The single honest word stopped the tumbling words. Sam swallowed, whispered, "What?"

Dean repeated more surely, "No – I won't. Sam, you're my brother. A pain in the ass, yeah – but..." he paused. "Hey, kinda comes with the 'little bro' package, huh? 'Sides, solo hunting is boring, man. I mean, I have to do all the research! That's your job, dude."

A small laugh escaped Sam and he felt the rest of the tension leave him, draping an arm over his raised knee and dropping his forehead to rest on it – a muttered "Thanks" breathed into the phone.

Dean's familiar, light "Just doin' my job, Sammy" quirked the corners of his lips up. "That bad a fight, huh?"

Dad's earlier words swam through his brain – aggravated tell-offs, unfair comparisons, claims he needed to be more focused when a job was at hand... the usual, but the harsh words and the rage from this particular argument had elicited both of them saying things that cut deep to the bone.

Still, Sam didn't let on any of that. It was his and Dad's problem – no need to get Dean involved or in between them again. So he tucked away his annoyance and the strain and replied, "You could say that."

Dean chuckled humourlessly. "Great. Try not to kill each other, man. I can't exactly watch your back if I'm two states over, Sammy."

"Yeah, I figured," Sam told him with a smile.

Seriously, big brother more awesome than Dean Winchester? Impossible.


Sam blinked furiously when his vision blurred some more, before pulling over to the side and rubbing at his eyes tiredly. A couple of tear droplets made their slow way down his face before he brushed them away. The cool air blowing in from the open window felt good on his face, cooling the wet spots on his cheeks.

He sighed heavily and turned weary eyes outside, seeing the shadowy outline of trees and bushes on the side of the road but not really registering it.

Emptiness echoed inside him, now that the crazy swirl of thoughts from before had faded to nothing but mere faint incessant voices way at the back of his mind.

He didn't have the will to deal with them right now.

Or with anything much, really. He felt like he'd been running since the phone-call ended and had reached a dead-end. Or a cross-roads, he added with an ironic half-smile. And then he'd just... collapsed.

Lost. Alone. Scared.

So it wasn't so surprising when he literally jumped and almost reached for his gun at the sound that suddenly broke through the stretching silence.

His phone.

What...?

Fingers fumbling, Sam managed to get it out of his pocket by the third ring, then stared at the screen for a couple more seconds.

Dean.

Talk of the- well, not the Devil, but...

Cautiously, he pressed the answer button and raised the phone to his ear, clearing his throat – trying not to sound too hopeful when he answered.

Hard not to when his brother's first words were an apology.

Sam let the relieved grin grow on his face as he drove on, this time with a clear destination and a set purpose to head to.

They were brothers, after all. And Winchesters too, at that.


"The point is, maybe we are each others' Achilles' heel. Maybe they'll find a way to use us against each other, I don't know... I just know we're all we got. More than that, we keep each other human."

"Thank you. Really, thank you. I won't let you down."

"Oh, I know it. And you are the second-best hunter on the planet."

"What do we do now?"

"We make our own future."

~Sam and Dean Winchester, 5.04. "The End".


A/N:- Holllllllyyyyyyyyy wow. O.O Seriously. Holy Christo and all that. I officially dub this my best one-shot. *stares* Definitely my favourite. Don't know 'bout you guys.

Kinda got carried away there with that last flashback, but – hey, can you blame me? x) Winchester bromance, people. Nothing beats it. :P

So... yeah, I don't know. I'm all typed-out. xP Been at this for a couple of hours, and it's my longest SPN one-shot so far. Which reminds me – seventh freakin' SPN story! Woohoo! :D *self-accomplishment, yo*

Wouldn't mind hearin' ya thoughts – on this story, on the episode, that heart-breaking season, future!Dean, or Sam/Lucifer in a full-on white suit. Or even hippie!Cas, which definitely made my top five fave scenes. xD Ah. I miss Cas. (He's COMING BACK! This week! YAY! *bounces in chair from excitement*)

's all, dudes and dudettes.

Oh yeah – writing deep stuff from Sammy's POV is definitely way easier than Dean's. I so need to get a move on with those humour fics...

Laters~

Iz.