Help Him Not To Hurt

Summary: 1-shot, Dean POV. Dean's deal is due in days. Sam's close to the edge of self destruction with his inability to find a way to save him. One night Dean gets a call while he's out clearing his own head that reminds him that leaving his brother alone at this time isn't always a good choice. Angsty/thoughtful! Dean & Hurt/Drunk!Sam

Tags: Not tagged to anything really. This is set between 03x15: Time Is On My Side and 03x16: No Rest For the Wicked.

Spoilers: None that I can think of.

Warnings: Some language and a possible 1-tissue alert for toward the end.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything to do with the show. This is just for fun.

Author Note: I don't normally do first person POV since they are harder to write and especially to get into the character's head as much as you need to but Dean wanted a shot so here it is. Enjoy.

SPN SPN SPN

Help him not to hurt. It was the one thing I'd been saying every night for the last twelve months and I made the crossroads deal to save my brother's life. I didn't care who might hear it, I just needed to hope someone would and that someone would look out for Sam when I was gone.

Under normal demon rules a crossroads deal gave the person ten years to live…this one, mine, only gave me one. One lousy goddamn year to try to settle as much shit as possible and try to brace my baby brother for life without me. It was the last thing I was having trouble with lately because in my haste to prove that dying wasn't bothering me it had pushed Sam to the point of obsessively finding a way to break the deal.

Now my time was nearly up. I have a little over seventy-two hours to go before I become a chew toy for some damn demon mutt from Hell and Sam's latest plan to save me had flown the coop when I personally buried Doc Benton in a fridge so his borrowed body parts would rot and he'd finally die.

Sammy had been counting on the Doc having some way to keep me alive and he'd been quiet since. Maybe a little quiet and I should've seen this coming but I've been bouncing between staying awake and drinking myself into blissful oblivion to try to ignore the damn nightmares that are coming more and more frequently.

Tonight I'd dropped Sam off at some roadside motel in rural Pennsylvania before we headed back to Bobby's one last time and I'd gone to either find a bar or food. I hadn't really decided when I finally pulled off the road to just sit on the hood of the Impala like Sam and I do sometimes to watch the stars and wonder who I'd pissed off downstairs that they wanted my ass so badly that they couldn't wait ten freakin' years.

I'd been avoiding those thoughts, any thoughts of the end until Sam had finally given me those infamous huge sad eyes with puppy dog looks to the Nth degree (damn, do I regret teaching that to him) and made me begin to see how bad he was hurting.

Then I'd made the mistake of admitting that I didn't want to die…I didn't want to go to Hell and he'd made it his mission to save me. I love my brother but damn he can be way too much like Dad when he sinks his teeth into something.

After Benton and knowing that at least Bela wouldn't be a threat to Sam I'd thought he'd crash after I left. I thought he'd play on his laptop, do the obsessive book reading thing then fall to sleep. I thought he'd be fine if I went out for food or booze…I thought wrong.

I'd only been sitting on the hood for a short time thinking back to growing up in this car, to watching Sammy grow up in this car and now it would soon be his when my phone began going off. Recognizing the ring tone as Sam's, I snatched it up since lately he didn't call me when I was out because he knows what I'm trying to avoid.

"Sam?" the moment I hear loud music and even louder crashing sounds I know this won't be my brother's voice I hear and I'm not wrong.

"Umm, you're Dean?" the voice was young, cautious and definitely female which put me on alert because I'd left Sam at the motel and I know enough sounds by heart to know my brother's phone was not calling me from our motel room. "This…is this your brother?"

Wondering what the hell he'd done, not to mention how the hell he got anywhere when I had the Impala I was already inside with the engine started before replying. "Yeah, I'm Dean and yeah, if you have a 6'4" geek with floppy hair and probably way too over emotional then that's my kid brother. Who're you and where are you?" I ask, spinning the wheel to put the Impala back on the highway and toward the motel.

"I'm Mari, the night bartender here at the Silver Spur on…" she sounded friendly enough if a little stressed but from what I was hearing in the background was any indication than I could guess the reason for her stress and I'd heard enough.

"I'm on my way," I cut her off, shut the phone down and push the Impala a little past legal speed limits. I knew the bar she meant. I'd seen it off the highway about a mile from the motel and was instantly kicking myself because if I knew one thing at all about Sam it was upset little brother and liquor just did not mesh well.

Sam doesn't drink…well, no, that's not quite true. Sam can drink and will drink if he has to but Sammy just can't drink like I do. He can't drink for long periods and he sure as hell can't drink the hard stuff. So right now, the way he's been, especially tonight, booze, bars, and Sammy are a bad combo.

Now under any other circumstance I wouldn't worry. Normally when Sam gets plastered he's the kind of drunk you want to deal with. He's sloppy, he's more emotional but always manageable…if a bit too mouthy but I can deal with that.

One look inside the bar tells me that this might be a totally different side of my little brother…one that I've seen only once and that was right after Jessica died and Sam was struggling with raging grief then too.

"Sonuvabitch," one look also tells me that a good portion of the cash I'd been putting back for Sam after I was gone is gonna go to this bartender in order to keep Sam out of jail.

Not seeing too many broken or bleeding bodies is a good thing since at 6'4" Sam could be dangerous if he applied himself in a fight. I should know. I taught the kid most of my tricks in addition to what Dad taught him. Most of the patrons used to this place had that barroom sense of place. Meaning they could pick out who to badger and who to leave alone.

The few bodies on the floor were clearly those that either couldn't see the signs to back the hell off or they were the type who thought they were too big to get taken down by what probably looked like another drunk. Pity for them that even drunk, in this state of mind, my brother was dangerous.

"So…I don't see cops. He in that deep or if I pay for the damages can I take him?" I ask the petite little redhead who headed directly my way the second she saw me.

I've been in plenty of bars in my time and can read bartender when I see 'em. This one looked more like a perky co-ed but then I read her eyes and knew she also probably wasn't one to mess with and she controlled calling the cops on my so drunk out of his skull little brother.

"I didn't call 'em since he really didn't start this," Mari replies, glancing back over her shoulder while giving the braided red hair a tug in frustration. "The kid came in already six sheets to the wind so I didn't serve him liquor. Tried to give him coffee but he wouldn't touch that and just sat at the bar looking like a kid who'd just lost his best friend."

How close to the truth she was she had n o clue since in some way Sam would be losing just that in just a few days. I knew the look. It was usually how Sam got his way with me when we'd been kids and still sometimes today, especially since when's he's drunk he can put that look on overload.

Taking in the pool table that was sitting askew, the broken pool sticks, chairs and glass scattered on the floor I really wasn't liking what I was seeing but would need to see Sam to decide who took the brunt of this beating when as if seeing what I was thinking Mari, the perky bartender, spoke up.

"Couple of the more aggressive jerks around here saw him as an easy mark. They tried to hit him up for cash, get him in over his head in a game of pool but when even drunk he whipped their butts at their own game a few of 'em got pissed and that's when things went nasty," she eyed the larger of the bleeding men leaning against the bar with a bag of ice pressed to his rapidly swelling face then looked back toward where Sam seemed to be just slumped near the pool table that was still standing correctly with a sigh.

"Russ and a few of his pals jumped him them cause they were pissed off for losing. He tried to fight back and did a pretty decent job in the shape he's in but then the odds got too great and I finally stepped in.

Now I did lift an eyebrow at the thought of this woman who was barely 5' if she was an inch and probably didn't weigh much more than a hundred pounds soaking wet in the middle of a brawl then blinked at the finger I had poked in my chest and was reminded too much of Jo when I'd say something that ticked her off.

"Sugar, I have seven older brothers all of whom have some color belt in some martial art. They made sure their little sister knew how to take are of herself," she assures me then nods at Sam. "He knocked around some but just kept saying that it didn't matter. He'd be worse off once his brother died cause it was his fault and rambling about saving you and not being able to and dogs chewing you up and…you don't look like you're dying."

Did I mention that when Sam was drunk he was a bit too mouthy? I'd underestimated just how talkative he was tonight, shrugging to Mari. There was no way to explain to any sane person about crossroad deals, demons or Hellhounds so my option was to fall back on a skill I'd learned early…I lied.

"Sudden illness, didn't know about it so it's too late to cure it. Sammy's not taking it too well," I say with a straight face and wonder again at what age I was when I realized I could pull a con off with so much ease even as my heart was breaking for my brother. "Okay if I get him?"

"Go ahead and don't worry about this mess. The owner was looking for an excuse to remodel anyway," she laid a hand on my arm while pushing Sam's phone into my hand. "I hope you can help him before…well…before you…" she doesn't seem to know what to say and I can't blame her so I merely nod, thank her for calling and head for Sam.

I can feel the eyes on my back as I crouch down in front of him but I ignore them for now in order to focus on Sam. One look tells me he gave as good as he got it seems. I see his knuckles on one hand are swelling, but I also see blood oozing from under the dishrag he wrapped around that hand so he'd probably been cut by glass or a switchblade.

Sam's hair was in his face but I already know he's probably gonna have one helluva black or bruised eye or face come the morning which'll mean Bobby will be yelling at me. He's holding his ribs and by the broken chair not too far away I can see how this damn fight went down.

Sam hated to hustle pool. He'd always hated the games we played to make money on the road but even though he hated it that didn't mean he couldn't do it. I'd taught Sam the game myself and I taught him how to run a table so smoothly that no one, not even an experienced gamer, will see him do it.

Even drunk and mopey, he can still do that and I figure that's what he did and the drunk fools who lost didn't like it and decided to beat the crap outta him. Now, I can either assume he was too off his game tonight to handle them all or this guilt trip he's been on is making him sloppy. Either way, it's time I get him the hell outta here so I can handle the wounds that I can see and some that I can't.

"Hey," as soon as he hears my voice he's looking up but the glassy eyes tell me he got whacked in the head at least once. Though he does seem to at least recognize me cause I am getting full on Sammy puppy eyed bitch face. It's the one he uses when upset and disgusted at the same time.

"I…tried but…they cheat," he mumbled in that same tone that tells me that yes, he is so drunk and yes, he is gonna be a handful. "Got slapped in the head with…"

"Yeah, I see that but you need some knocking around too," reaching down, I grip his arm and haul him up which since he's four inches taller…I so hate that, isn't an easy thing to do…especially when he's not steady and clinging on top of it. "Sam, what the hell did you drink tonight in the time I left you to get you like this?"

That's what I couldn't figure out. If Mari said Sam was drunk when he got to the bar then it had to have happened after I left which wouldn't have given him much time to get to this point unless… "Sonuvabitch. Sammy, did you drink that whiskey that I stashed in the trunk of the Impala?"

Because it was often very hard to impossible to go to an ER or hospital for wounds Dad and Bobby had taught us a trick of keeping some form of alcohol on hand that would both work as a disinfectant and it would dull the pain, if not knock you right out.

I had restocked the Impala recently with three unopened bottles of pure Jack Daniels from a trip through Kentucky a month or so back. Since I hadn't gotten to the point of needing 'em and I knew Sam wouldn't touch whiskey unless it was to pour it on a wound I'd forgotten 'em…until now and his already drooping head dropped so his chin touched his chest.

"All three bottles, Sam?" a jerky nod and I guess I should be counting my blessings that the kid was still conscious much less on his feet even though I do not want to think of how he walked to the bar or what state our motel room might be in. "You are so explaining this hangover to Bobby. C'mon, let's get you into the car then we'll see what else you've gotten up to while I was out."

Sam gave some kind of muttered assent but by this point I know to ignore him so I get him into the Impala which was fun since this kid is not easy to move and put in the car like he was when I could just snatch him up and toss him in…much to Dad's dismay at times.

"You mad?" Sam knows me and he knows that we don't have time for this so I should be spitting mad right now and I am…but not at him.

"No, yes, and you are replacing that whiskey," I tell him then lean on the roof to gaze at the bar and before I really know why I'm walking back in to eye the larger man that Mari had called Russ.

Again I say that people in places like this can read people and can tell the ones to leave alone just by the vibes they give off. I am shooting off waves like that and people, the smart ones, know not to come near me when I kneel down to grab the stout looking bully by the throat to pull him up and pin him to the bar.

"Your pals are getting off easy because most of them are still out on the floor but you…you're not so lucky," I see Mari look my way then go back to wiping glasses while the other patrons seem more interested in the local sports team on TV which tells me Russ is not very popular except with his own clique. "You nailed my little brother tonight. You and your pals thought he'd be an easy mark to rip off because he was drunk and upset so you painted an invisible target on his back. Then when he still kicked your asses at pool and took your cash, you decided to beat him up. That didn't work too well either it seems."

Russ is more aware of things now that I have my arm over his throat but then I'm in his face with a tone that only very few people have gotten to hear and live to tell about it. "I could beat you up, I could do to you what you planned to do to Sam, I could do what I've done to countless bullies and assholes who have touched or threatened that kid but I won't," yeah, I feel like doing it but I've seen his kind come and go and know what works best on them. "I won't because you're not worth my time. You're a worthless bully who thinks he's tough by conning kids at pool. You're a drunk who beats on those smaller or weaker than you."

I have to smirk at that because at any other time Sam could've mopped the floor with all of them. "You picked the wrong night to target Sam because he could've taken you all on. How do I know? Because aside from teaching him pool, I also taught him to fight…I taught him to fight my way and that's not always fair," I ram my knee up into a rather sensitive spot and I know Russ has gotten the point but I had one more to make when I grab his hair to jerk his head up so our eyes met.

"Now, if you had hurt him too bad…if I'd've come in here and found him laid out or bleeding too bad then no, all bets are off because then you would've broken the number one rule in the 'Dean Winchester' handbook. You do not touch my little brother and expect not to get your goddamn lungs ripped out," a final rap on his head and I let him drop, I do lay some money on the bar for Mari to cover some of this then I walk out to see that Sam had fallen to sleep with his head laying against the window of his door much like he would when we'd be driving and he'd curl up.

Knowing the time crunch I was now facing, I make the choice to swing by the motel, grab our stuff, pay the bill then head for South Dakota while figuring I'd handle Sam once he woke up.

It took a little longer than I liked to straighten up the room since it appeared as if Sam had decided to toss it and his duffel bag all over the damn place. I put the room to rights while thanking whoever or whatever that he hadn't punched any holes or gotten too wild in here though a couple spots of blood in the bathroom worried me.

A look at his overturned laptop told me that he still hadn't given up finding a last ditch miracle save for me then I stuffed it into his duffel, picked up the three empty whiskey bottles to toss in the trash, made sure nothing was left to point at us and drove off while praying that I could find a way to help him not to hurt.

It was a little past dawn that I felt him start to move. Sam was always restless as a baby or when he was a kid and not feeling good. He'd hate it if he knew that I know that he's still restless now when he's waking up sick or hurt…or with the mother of all hangovers.

I'd been tempted to give him the same line I did that time he got drunk on that one job we worked but figure he'll be hurting enough without making him sicker. So knowing what was probably coming and not wanting inside my car I pull over at the first rest stop I see and wait.

Bobby's called a few times. I was able to dodge the third degree but I know if I don't have us there by the time he thinks we should be I'll either be hearing from him or seeing him.

I'm messing in the trunk, trying to straighten it up more so that's one less thing Sammy will have to do…after and I make sure the final few things I'd been preparing for him are slipping into his duffel so he'll find them when it's time. I know my brother and I can almost see his actions after I'm gone so that I can timeline his steps to know when he'll go for the duffel.

'Help him not to hurt,' I think to myself again but I know that is so hard to do with him already blaming himself but then I hear the first groan and count in my head to three just as the passenger door is thrown open and Sam nearly faceplants in his haste to get out of the front seat before his stomach rebels on him.

"Oh, God," yep, he's sick. He's also totally clueless to where he is which I can tell the moment his shoulders tense as he struggles to keep himself upright as he pukes.

"Three bottles of Jack on a nearly empty stomach, on top of being exhausted and emotionally shot is not always a good thing, Sammy," I say it casually enough to let him know that he's with me and safe even as every part of my big brother instincts wants to just go over and help him somehow. "The bar brawl you got into probably also didn't help you since a lot of that nausea is from the slight concussion I figure you have."

He's trying to look for me but his head's still spinning too much for that as I reach into the backseat for an old rag and a bottle of water then lean on the Impala by him until I figure he's about done. "Well, I'm letting you slide since I figure as Dad's 'good' son, you're not that experienced with knowing what not to do with hard liquor," I can almost see him shoot me his best bitch face when what I said dawned on him and he managed to turn enough to look up at me like I'd lost my mind and I smirk.

"I mean aside from all the constant fighting, yelling and crap that went on between you two, he didn't have to worry about you sneaking out to bars, getting drunk, smoking, being expelled or hanging out with some very interesting women. That was his biggest worries for me. You were easy on Dad," I could tell him so much more but figure those words are too little too late now so I don't, instead I kneel down to wet the rag and hold it out. "Wipe your face then let me look at you."

The medical kit is already out on the hood so when he finally manages to stand up without puking again I get him to sit on the Impala's hood and smile inwardly that I was right, his face is a massive mess of colors with one eye almost swelled shut. "I am not taking the blame with Bobby for this, Geek boy," I tell him while uncurling his clenched fingers to check his hand and see the cut on his palm isn't too deep but it'll be messy to clean so as I start I choose to distract him. "Want to tell me why you decided to get shit faced drunk before going to a bar?"

Using his good hand to swallow some water before spitting it out, I feel Sam tense as soon as the disinfectant touches his hand but I'm holding on with just enough pressure that he knows to stay still when I hear him sigh, that big sigh that means he really doesn't have an answer I'll like.

"I can't save you and I'm…scared."

Okay…maybe he does have an answer. Pity it's still one that I don't have a glib reply to because how the how can I look up into what I know will be too huge and wet hazel eyes and tell him not to be scared when I'm scared out of my mind? I can't and he knows it. That's why he drank the whiskey…to try to forget what he thinks is his failure, his fear of letting me down…of disappointing me in this last thing before I…leave him alone.

"Yeah, I know you are, Sammy," I finally reply, lightly wiping the swab over his hand to see the cut had closed and would only need a pressure bandage and some gauze for the moment then I move on to wiping the blood from his swelled eye so I could concentrate on it when I choose to toss in… "So am I."

In all of Sam's years I know that he's rarely heard me ever admit to being scared. I was his big brother, his protector. I was the guy who was always watching over him, making sure he had food to eat, a roof over his head on those times Dad got too involved in hunting and forgot about rent at the motels. I was never scared in Sam's eyes because I was always cool, calm, cocky and defiant in front of my little brother.

He never saw the truth, he never saw me after I'd get him in bed and I was alone. Sammy never saw my hands shake or the night sweats I'd wake up in worrying if Dad would come back before child protective services got too nosy or the pain I'd be in after a fight. Sam never saw that because I made damn sure my brother always believed I had it all under control.

Now…now I needed him to understand that even his awesome big brother could be scared. "Yeah, shocking, right? Your big brother is scared. I'm scared of dying, I'm scared of what's waiting for me cause I have no doubts that something is since they changed the deal but more importantly…I am scared to death of leaving you alone," I know he's watching me now but I keep checking little bruises, some scrapes and a cut on his neck rather than look up. I just pray not to let him see how much my hands want to shake or how hard it is to keep my voice level. "Sam…you've done everything that you can to try to save me but it's…over. We're going to Bobby's and letting what happens next happen. If I'm a hellhounds chew toy then fine but it'll be on my terms."

"Is it that easy?" he asks this of me when I'm fighting to hold it together for him but I can't let him see the real pain. That'll wait until we're at Bobby's and I have a chance to be alone because no matter how much I may tell him I will never let my brother, the boy who looked up to me, see me break that much.

"No, it's not that easy but you've done all that you can and I'm telling you to stop," feeling the first tear drop on the back of the hand that I'd laid over his clenched fist I finally meet his eyes and fight to give him my normal 'everything's gonna be good' smirk. "I taught you what you need to know and you'll make me proud in whatever it is you choose to do but don't ever try this stunt again of I won't have to come back to haunt your ass. Bobby or Ellen will be kickin' it over four state lines."

I hear him at least chuckled over that since if he's four inches taller than me than he towers over Ellen. Satisfied for the moment that his bruises and cuts will stand the road trip and that his ribs are probably only cracked or bruises, I step back to let him try to stand and we both see if he's steady then I shove some clean clothes at him while pointing to the men's room. "Go wash up and change since you smell worse than that brewery case Dad had back when you were fourteen."

Now there was the pure Sammy bitch face I'd been waiting weeks to see and I just smirk back until he's out of sight and I can let the act fall for just a moment. It's getting harder to keep up the act of being calm in the face of certain doom but until that last possible second I will…for him.

I will pretend, lie, and struggle for those last remnants of calm that I have just to make Sam safe because I know he's still on the fringe of jumping into the abyss and I'm not letting him do that to himself. I made the damn deal, I knew the risks and I'll accept the consequences. I'm his big brother and I'll go the Hell being that for Sammy…no matter how many demons I may have to kill in between.

Reaching into my jacket for one of the few photos to survive the fire in Lawrence I stare at my parents before also slipping that photo in Sam's duffel then I look to the sky as a couple raindrops fall from an otherwise sunny sky as if they were teardrops and I fight the sudden burning in my own tired eyes and offer a sad smile.

"Please Mom…Dad, if you made it up there, please help Sammy after I'm gone," I whisper, glancing up to see my little brother, the kid I'd raised and protected, headed back and I make one final desperate plea. "Please help him not to hurt."

By the time Sam's close to the Impala I'd blanked out the emotions, the near tears, and any leftover fears that I'd face alone later. "C'mon, we're late and I don't need Bobby bitching more than he already will be," I call and then laugh at the response I get in return. 'That's my boy,' I tell myself then wait until he tosses the dirty clothes in the bag in the trunk and climbs in. "Hey, you are replacing that whiskey just so you know and…"

"Yeah, Dean, I will," he's tired and hurting but hiding it like I do. I taught him that trick too.

Do I think he's letting go his idea to save me? No. Do I think he'll find that last second miracle? Maybe but I doubt it. What do I know? I know my little brother will do what he thinks he has to and I'll do what I damn well know I need to.

Feeling his hand nudge my arm, I look over to see the concern in his eyes…well, eye since one's swelled shut and I know he's wondering what I'm seeing or thinking. "I'm…good, Sammy," I lie and he knows it but lets it go in favor of getting comfortable again and falling to sleep then I let my one hand card through his hair like I used to do and let it stay on his shoulder for a long time as I focus on the road and the next few hours until I leave him and hope I've taught him enough that he can make it on his own without hurting too much because I know that all that torments of Hell won't be enough to overshadow the pain I'll feel for just leaving my pain in the ass little brother.

The End

A/N: This one turned out longer than I planned and more…complex but I hope you enjoy it as you read what Dean possibly could've been thinking in those last few days. Thanks for reading!