Title: What evil lurks…

Author: Disasteriffic Kaz

Info: What's the world coming too when even a simple salt and burn can't be simple anymore? Post 5x05 "Fallen Idols" hurt/limp/awesome!Sam/Dean with a dash of awesome!Cas for taste.

Author's note: What? I've had nothing better to do for five days then knit, write by candle light and torture my readers. :P Can you blame me?

Do please Review once you've read. :D Every comment and vote of support helps keep me writing. Not to mention if I've pooched anything, someone can always tell me. :P

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Sam jerked awake, a cry on his lips and opened his eyes. The darkness around him was complete and disorienting as he tried to see something; anything. He tipped his head back and found a wall behind him. When he tried to move he found his arms and legs wedged in to…something. He put his head forward and again it banged into brick. He could feel the rough edges against his forehead. The air was close, musty and a feeling of claustrophobia came over him.

"Dean!" Sam shouted as loudly as he could. He was walled in. The ghosts had buried him alive inside a wall. "Help! Castiel!" He tried to get his hand to his pocket and his phone but there was no room to move. His fingers brushed something soft beside him and he flinched but couldn't get away. "Hello?" He asked softly. The air froze again. A spirit appeared beside him and Sam looked down in horror at the desiccated remains of a body; it was the corpses sleeve resting against his hand. He looked to his other side and found yet another body and beyond that another in the pale light from the spirit. He had found the Strangler's victims.

"DEAN!"

CHAPTER 5

"Dean. Stop, you need to rest." Castiel stopped him from stumbling to his knees again, as he had many times already and this time pulled Dean's arm over his shoulder. "We will find him."

"In time?" Dean asked miserably. He tried to pull his arm free from the Angel but to no avail.

"We will move faster if you let me help you." Castiel chastised him. "Be stubborn after we find your brother." Castiel tilted his head to the side suddenly, staring at nothing.

"Cass?" Dean watched him and the strange look on his face. "Not the time to remember your shopping list."

"I hear him." Castiel said and focused again on Dean's face. "His voice was very faint but I heard Sam. This way." He pulled Dean into a faster pace. He had heard Sam's voice calling out to his brother, to him. Whatever was happening, there was no mistaking the fear he had heard in those faint words. He didn't tell Dean. There was no need to burden the already injured, worried man. Instead he dragged Dean along beside him as fast as he could.

The tunnels passed behind them as they went. Dean was quickly lost, unable to keep the map in his head. He was tired down to his bones and his chest was a misery. He'd glanced quickly at the burned lines laid across his skin with the flashlight. He wished he hadn't looked; it hurt more once he'd seen them.

They travelled for what felt like miles of subway tunnel, once passing through another section with arches cut into the side. The moonlight filtered in to show the colorful graffiti covering the opposite wall but Dean paid it no mind.

"Can you still hear him?" Dean asked.

"No." Castiel felt Dean flinch and said nothing more.

Dean pulled his arm free from the Angel. "It's ok. I feel better now." Truthfully he still felt like crap but he wanted both arms free if the ghosts showed again or worse…if Castiel was wrong about the Strangler being taken care of.

They emerged from the tunnel into a large, round chamber. Dean shined the light up at the vaulted roof and around the walls, spotting a dark opening leading to another, smaller passage and the continuation of the subway across from them. "What is this?"

Castiel shrugged. He opened his mouth and then closed it. "Dean, wait." He said as the eldest Winchester had started for the far subway tunnel. "I hear…" Castiel whirled and sprinted for one of the far walls without finishing his sentence.

"What, Cass?" Dean called. There was desperation in every line of the Angel as he moved and Dean followed him as fear dropped into his stomach.

Castiel reached the wall and slammed both of his fists into the brick. He pulled away a chunk of rubble and dug his hands into the newly made hole as Dean came up beside him. Castiel gave a tremendous heave, growling out the strain and pulled the wall open.

"Sam!" Dean watched as the rubble showered down around the Angel's feet. Sam's head and chest fell forward into the light of Dean's flashlight. He was unmoving and pale. Dean let the shotgun fall and reached in for him. He laid a shaking hand on Sam's neck and pushed dark hair out of his eyes with the other. "Sam?"

"He's alive." Castiel assured him. He took Sam's right arm, Dean his left. Together they heaved and dragged all six feet four inches of dead weight through the hole and laid him gently on the stone floor. "I heard him breathing." The Angel frowned. "But he's stopped now. Dean…"

"No you don't, Sammy." Dean tilted his brother's head back. "Come on, Sam." He breathed for his brother, forcing air passed cold lips and into his lungs. The effort made his chest ache and he ignored it, silently urging Sam to breathe for himself. He grinned in relief when Sam suddenly coughed and gasped in a breath, eyes flying open in fear. Sam's hands reflexively gripped tight hold of Dean's arm. "That's my boy."

"Suffocation…sucks." Sam managed between heavy breaths. He looked up at the newly made hole and shuddered before looking back to Dean and sighed in relief, letting his eyes fall closed.

"Tell me about it." Dean pulled him up to lean against his knee, tightening his arm around Sam's shoulders as he felt him quake. He looked to Castiel and gave him a lopsided smile. "Thanks."

Castiel smiled in return and saw all the feeling packed into that simple word. He turned back to the hole he'd made. "We have found your burial site."

"The bodies…they're in there." Sam nodded. "In the walls." He looked around and frowned. "Flashlight?" Dean handed it to him and held Sam up as he took it with a shaking hand. He shined the light around the room and then shook his head. "This is the old Town Hall station. He buried…his victims right…right under their noses."

"Hope they tore him to pieces." Dean said fiercely. "You ok?"

Sam nodded, swallowing loudly. "Yeah. Just…"

"Need to sleep for a year." Dean smiled at him and then looked over at the broken wall. "We'll come back tomorrow and finish this."

Sam groaned and sagged against Dean's arm. He could feel a myriad of bumps and bruises making themselves known and he still breathed hard as though he'd been running a race. He had no energy left to even stand on his own. "Hell of a long way back to the car."

Castiel leaned down and gripped both their shoulders. There were still some things he could do.

"Cass, you rock." Dean grinned as he looked up and found they were sitting beside the Impala. "Come on, sasquatch." Castiel took Sam's arm and helped Dean pull him up, supporting him while Dean opened the door. Sam folded into the passenger seat and groaned in relief.

"You coming, Cass?" Dean asked him, taking the bag the Angel handed him.

"No. I must get back to my search." Castiel managed a small smile.

Dean sighed and nodded. "Good…" Castiel was suddenly gone in a soft flutter of wings. "Luck. I hate it when he does that."

"That's probably why he does it." Sam said tiredly from the seat.

Dean shut the door on his smirk and stumbled around to the driver's side. "You look like crap." He told Sam as he got in and started the engine.

Sam chuckled. "You're not exactly a picture of loveliness yourself."

"Bite me, Sammy." Dean glared over at him as he pulled out onto the street but couldn't help the hand that reached across to rest at the back of Sam's neck as his brother rolled his head into the window. They'd come far too close to losing each other for good.

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Dean woke to the sound of his name being muttered. He looked over and sighed; his brother was thrashing in his sleep and wrapped in his blankets. He groaned, bracing a hand over his aching chest and rolled off the bed, turning on the light.

"Sam." Dean shook his shoulder and jerked his head back as Sam flailed an arm out. Dean grabbed it and held on. "Whoa! Whoa!" He waited for Sam's eyes to open and find him, his breathing to slow. "You good?"

Sam nodded shakily. He pushed himself up and kicked off the covers that had wrapped around his legs. In his sleep he'd thought he was back inside the wall suffocating alone. "Sorry." He said, embarrassed.

Dean snorted and went back to his own bed. "You think I haven't woken up twice already?" He rubbed a hand across his still aching chest. "Wish he could die twice."

Sam swung his legs to the floor. "Well I'm up. Shower." He grinned as his brother groaned and went into the bathroom.

"Don't use all the hot water!" Dean shouted after him but held little hope of more than a lukewarm shower. He dove for his jeans at the foot of his bed when his phone started ringing. "Hello?" He said as he fumbled it open.

"You ever plannin' on callin' me and letting me know how the job went?" Bobby growled at him.

Dean smiled. "Gonna start thinking you care you keep checking up on us."

"Shut it, smart-ass." Bobby rolled his eyes. "So?"

Dean chuckled and filled told him all that had happened the night before. "Ok." Bobby sighed "I'm a little less pissed at Angel boy now."

"Bobby…"

"I know Dean." Bobby cut him off gruffly. "He'd fix my legs if he could." He still didn't sound as if he entirely believed that but Dean let it slide.

"We're going back in tonight, now we know where the bodies and take care of them." Dean got up and banged on the bathroom door. He could still hear the water running. "Hurry it up princess!"

Bobby snorted. "Usin' all the hot water on ya, again?"

"What do you think?" Dean banged on the door again when he heard Sam laughing.

"Maybe you need to stop gettin' so much beauty sleep." Bobby laughed when he heard Dean's angry growl.

"Good bye Bobby." Dean said pointedly into the phone over the older man's laughter and hung up.

"Obviously you need coffee." Sam said, smiling in good humor as he opened the bathroom and raised a brow at the small dent in the door.

"Well then you better get me some while I take a cold damn shower." Dean groused and went past him, pulling the door shut firmly. Sam chuckled and started pulling fresh clothes out of his bag.

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"We're not eating here." Sam said as they walked into the restaurant and saw the long grill behind the counter. "No, really. You're kidding." The grill was a good six feet long and covered in eggs, home fries, hot dogs, burgers and all covered in a patina of grease.

Dean laughed and elbowed his side. "Welcome to Nick Tahoe's, Sammy." He eyed the greasy food on the grill with avarice. "Best damn restaurant anywhere."

"If you say so." Sam sighed. "Do they have salads?"

"Don't say that so loud!" Dean hushed him. "Go find a table. I'll order."

"Oh man." Sam shook his head but left Dean standing in line. When he got in one of these moods there was no reasoning with him. He'd just have to pick the least inedible of whatever Dean brought him. He found a table by the window and slid into the chair. He had to admit that despite the appearance of the grill, the over-all smell was making his mouth water.

Dean made his way over a few minutes later and slid a tray onto the table. Sam looked at the contents in fear. "Sam, meet the Garbage plate. Garbage plate. Sam." Dean plopped into the chair opposite him and grinned.

"Well, the name certainly fits." Sam commented as Dean slid one of the plates off in front of him. There was a pile of home fries, another of macaroni, baked beans and on top a white hot dog split down the middle and a hamburger patty. Covering all of it was a greasy sort of meat sauce.

"Trust me, Sammy." Dean handed him a fork. "What you are looking at is Nirvana on a plate." He took a bite of his own and moaned in a way that had the woman at the next table staring at him and Sam was almost certain she drooled.

"Only live once I guess." Sam shrugged, resigned and loaded his fork with a bit of everything. He ate it and spent a minute just staring at the aptly named garbage plate. The ridiculous combination of foods was having a sort of war in his mouth and, to his surprise; he realized the taste was amazing. "Holy crap."

"Mmf." Dean smiled around his fork. "Even better when you're drunk or hung-over."

"This is so…wrong." Sam said as he took another bite and smiled. "Why does this work?"

Dean shrugged. "No idea." He loved how sometimes a good plate of food could shift your world back into place if only for a little while. The end of the world loomed over them but for a few minutes he could set it all aside and just…be. Even the burns across his chest seemed to hurt less and he smiled.

"I know I'm going to regret eating this later but…" Sam smiled down at the plate. "Just this once you were right."

Dean laughed and pushed the bottle of hot sauce toward him. "Add some of that. Even better."

They ate companionably, letting the noise and jumble of the busy restaurant wash around them and soothe away the stresses of the night before with normalcy.

"How is it?" Sam asked suddenly, seeing his brother rub a hand absently across his chest.

Dean dropped it quickly and rolled his eyes. "Like I got grilled."

Sam grimaced. "Sorry." He pushed his empty plate back. "I'm not moving for a month." He stretched and groaned. "Roll me out to the car."

Dean chuckled and mopped the last of the meat sauce from his plate. "You can work it off breaking walls apart."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Fantastic." He rose with his brother and followed him outside. This time they weren't going to slog through miles of tunnel. Sam had checked and found there was still an open entrance in the basement of the Town Hall that would lead them directly to the old station and the bodies. "Think it's late enough?"

"Dude. They're civil servants and it's after five." Dean grinned. It was actually closer to eight. "We'll have the place to ourselves."

The climbed into the Impala with groans for their over-stuffed stomachs. Dean leaned back in the seat and rubbed a hand over his with a laugh. "Maybe should have waited til after the salt and burn for Tahoe's."

Sam smirked as Dean revved the engine and got them moving. "You're not gonna be swinging the hammer anyway, not with that chest." He said it laughingly but he meant it. Dean was clearly still not moving well; there was no way he was letting him swing a sledge hammer and tear the burns open. "You're on salt and burn duty."

Dean rolled his eyes and shrugged. "You wanna do all the hard labor, who am I to argue?"

They drove through the quickly darkening night and pulled up down the street from the Town Hall. As they'd hoped, the parking lot was empty but for a single car no doubt belonging to a security guard. They grabbed the sledge hammer and duffel from the trunk and jogged to the back of the building. Sam knelt at the secluded back entrance and quickly picked the lock, letting them in.

"Straight down this hall, third right and downstairs." Sam whispered and let Dean take the lead. They went quickly through the building and down into the basement. Silence followed them and they lucked out not crossing paths with the security guard. Sam took Dean's shoulder and steered him toward the back of the long, dark room filled with filing cabinets and toward a small door partially hidden behind a shelf. "That's it."

They pulled the shelf forward and left it so it would block the view of the door and not look out of place if anyone came looking. They pried the bar off the door and eased it open. Dean grimaced at the loud squeal of old, rusted metal as it moved.

"Quick. If he heard that…" Dean gave Sam a shove through the door into the darkness and followed, pushing it shut behind them. "Cross your fingers he doesn't come looking."

"He's probably asleep at a desk somewhere." Sam laughed and switched on his flashlight, cutting through the gloom. They were in a narrow stairwell that wound down. "Too bad the street entrance was filled in decades ago."

Dean nodded and kept close to Sam's back. He pulled the EMF meter from his pocket and switched it on. The red lights climbed as it whined and he snorted, turning it off and putting it away. "Shocker." He hefted his shotgun. Sam would be doing all the heavy work but he'd be watching his back; keeping the spirits off of him while he opened up the walls.

He bumped into Sam at the bottom of the stairs. "Sammy?"

"Sorry." Sam stepped out of the door and into the old station. The beam from his light had hit the hole where he'd been buried the day before and froze him for a moment in remembered terror. He shook it off and focused on the job and Dean's steady presence at his side instead.

Dean frowned, seeing what had stopped him. "Got your back, Sam." Dean reminded him and saw Sam's shoulders loosen and he nodded. "Let's get these lights up." He set the duffel bag on the floor and bent, opening it. He pulled out the first camping lamp and handed it to his brother. A minute later the old station was lit by the solid blue glow of the camp lights and Sam hefted the sledge hammer at the wall beside the hole Castiel had torn.

A half an hour later they had four bodies laid out on the stone floor. In spite of the chill in tunnels, Sam had stripped down to his t-shirt. The drying sweat around his neck and under his arms was giving him chills even as he sweated and took another swing at the aging bricks. The ghosts had yet to attack but they were near. Ever so often Dean would pull out the EMF and listen to it whine for a second before putting it away. They had decided to unearth all the bodies before salting and burning them. Once the ghosts realized what was happening they likely wouldn't be left alone anymore.

"How many ghosts did we see?" Dean asked as he paced past Sam toward the far tunnel.

"At least a dozen." Sam stopped and wiped sweat off his brow, letting the sledge hammer rest on the floor. He looked into the opening he'd made. "Two more here." He reached in and pulled a pile of bricks loose, tumbling them to the floor. Dean was peering in at the far tunnel.

"Think we got visitors, Sammy." Dean called over his shoulder.

Sam jerked his head out of the hole and looked over. Dean was backing slowly away from the tunnel mouth with his gun leveled. "Took them long enough to figure it out." He said ruefully. He set the hammer down and bent to pick up his shotgun. He heard something scuff on the floor behind him and turned too late as a steely arm wrapped around his neck and dragged him backwards.

"Dean!" Sam shouted a warning. He started to turn and grab his attacker when a large knife flashed in front of his face before coming to rest at his throat. He froze as he felt metal tug against his skin.

"You son of a bitch!" Dean stalked towards them. "Let him go!"

"Stay back!" Tim's voice bellowed in Sam's ear and he flinched in surprise.

"Drop it!" Tim yelled again. "Drop it or I drop him."

Dean glared but bent and set the shotgun on the ground, unwilling to toy with his brother's life while a madman had a knife to his throat. "Let him go." He met Sam's eyes and though they were wide, they were steady. He gave Dean a short nod to say he was alright.

"Look, I don't want you. Just back off." Tim backed away another step, pulling Sam with him. He hadn't believed his good fortune when he'd come down the tunnel, following the light and noise and found both men with their backs to him.

"Too bad. You've got me." Dean stared fiercely at him and itched to have his gun in his hand. "You gotta know enough about me to know what happens to idiots who hurt my brother." He gave him a dangerous smile. "So, how big an idiot are you?"

"Shut up! Just shut up!" Tim shouted and backed a few more paces, dragging Sam with him. The knife bit into the skin under his chin and sliced into him, forcing Sam's head back on a small gasp. "He owes me. Stop MOVING!"

Dean took another step. There was no way he was letting him leave with Sam. A stream of blood crept down Sam's neck from under the blade and Dean growled, taking two more steps to close the distance.

"I'll kill him right here!" Tim warned.

Sam felt the pressure of the blade ease just slightly and made his move. He grabbed Tim's wrist and twisted viciously. He heard bone snap as Tim screamed and threw himself forward and away from him. Dean grabbed his arms, pushing him aside but before he could reach Tim a mist formed quickly behind the man. In seconds it formed and the face of the Strangler grinned at them as he wrapped ghostly arms around Tim's chest. Tim's head tipped back as his body jerked, mouth open in a silent scream as the ghostly current seized the muscles in his chest; robbing him of air. Even in death the Strangler didn't give up on his methods.

"Dean." Sam gasped and grabbed his shoulder.

"What?" Dean watched the other Hunter as he suffered and began to falter, the knife falling from his fingers to clatter on the ground.

"We can't just…"

"Yes we can." Dean said firmly. Watching Tim die wasn't bothering him. It was deserved in his mind.

"Dean, come on." Sam pleaded.

Dean growled but Sam was right. He dove for the floor and his shotgun, raised it and emptied the barrels into the Strangler's smiling face. If some of the rock salt happened to hit Tim in the chest well…it wouldn't kill him but it would sure hurt. Tim sucked in a breath as the ghost was forced to dissipate. He screamed out his pain and crumpled to the ground in a heap, unconscious. As the Strangler's ghost vanished, the other spirits appeared in a circle around the three men.

"Oh crap." Dean breathed and then stared as they all, as one, turned and pointed to a section of the wall Sam hadn't reached yet. "I'll be damned."

"They want us to gank him." Sam looked sadly at them. He recovered his sledge hammer and walked cautiously past the parade of souls. They let him pass, one by one winking out until only a woman remained; the woman who had earlier led them astray. She gave a soft, sad smile to Sam before vanishing with the others. "I think she's sorry."

"I'm touched." Dean said and rolled his eyes. He had little patience for anyone…or anything that tried to kill them. He kept the shotgun handy in case the ghosts changed their minds and drew the Desert Eagle pistol from his back, leveling it at Tim where he lay on the floor.

Sam leaned back and swung the sledge hammer into the brick. It took several blows and finally they could see the Strangler's dead eyes in the glow from their work lights. "Gotcha." Sam glared at the body. Even in death he still looked menacing. He swung into the wall a few more times, widening the gap and then set the hammer down to reach in. As he did the Strangler's spirit appeared over top his own body. The ghost screamed and launched out of the wall at Sam. He felt the Strangler's ethereal hands brush his face, felt the shadow of an electric current pass through him and take his legs out from under him and then the grateful sound of the shotgun firing and the spirit was gone with another scream.

"Sam." Dean was beside him and pulled him up. "Take this." He shoved the shotgun into his brother's hands and leaned him up against the wall. Dean dashed back to the duffel and pulled out a canister of salt and the lighter fluid. He ran back to the hole and poured salt over the corpse. He tossed the canister behind him and started dousing the dead man in lighter fluid. Dean jumped when Sam fired the shotgun beside him.

"Keep going." Sam told him. He wanted the bastard gone. He splayed his legs to keep him standing.

Dean dug his zippo out of his pocket, lit it and tossed it into the wall with a grim smile. "Rot in hell you son of a bitch." The flames erupted, consuming the body. He backed hastily away and pulled Sam with him as the flames spread from the Strangler's corpse into the walls on either side.

"Uh…not good." Sam said, worried as smoke began to billow out of the hole.

"Guess we don't need to dig out the rest of them." Dean said and scrubbed a hand through his hair. He glanced over at Tim, still on the floor, unconscious and retrieved the salt and lighter fluid. He quickly covered the four bodies they had removed and set them alight as well. "Time to go."

"What about him?" Sam asked as Dean hastily piled Camp lanterns and gear back into the duffel bag.

"What about him?" Dean stood and shouldered the bag. "We saved him from the ghost. Up to him whether he gets his sorry ass out of here in time."

Sam spent another moment looking at Tim and then shook his head. He turned away and took the lantern Dean handed him. "We need to get out of here before the smoke filters up and sets off the fire alarms in the Town Hall."

"Let's move then." Dean headed for the stairs and tucked his gun behind his back with a sigh. He still had the need to go over and finish Tim; end the threat he posed but he knew Sam would never let him and he wasn't sure he'd live with himself if he did murder the guy. Instead he pulled Sam's arm over his shoulders and turned his back on Tim the idiot.

They fled up the stairs and through the squealing door, the smoke following them. As they emerged from the back of the building the fire alarms blared to life and they ran down the street to the Impala, grateful no one was out walking on such a cold night. Dean tossed Sam's jacket to his shivering brother as they got in the car and gunned the engine to get them away before someone noticed them.

At the hotel, Sam ducked his head as they passed the front desk and hid the blood he knew was on his neck and down the front of his shirt. He could still feel it oozing and shuddered at how close Tim had come to slitting his throat. Dean kept a hand on his back, nodding to the desk and steered him toward the elevator.

"Come here." Dean said as the elevator doors closed on them. He grabbed Sam's face and turned it up to get a look at his neck. "Let me see."

"Dean, it's fine." Sam tried to pull away but Dean held him firm.

Blood still flowed from the cut; had covered the front of his shirt in fact. It was deep and probably needed a few stitches to close properly but not deep enough and Dean sighed, relieved. "You were lucky." He let Sam's face go with a light slap. "Another half an inch and you'd be smiling for good. What the hell were you thinking grabbing his arm while the damn knife was at your throat?"

Sam rolled his eyes and pressed his hand back against the cut. "I was thinking I didn't want him grabbing the gun I could feel tucked in the front of his shirt and shooting my big brother who wouldn't stop antagonizing him."

"Oh." Dean ran a hand through his hair and smiled sheepishly.

"Oh." Sam repeated with a lop-sided smile.

"You sure it was his gun?" Dean asked and smirked. He ducked the punch Sam threw at him.

"Dude!" Sam gave him a bitch face. "I need brain bleach now."

Dean laughed as the doors opened and shoved Sam out ahead of him, keeping a hold on his arm when he would have stumbled. "You need a garbage plate."

"Twice in one day?" Sam groaned. "Pretty sure I already listened to my arteries harden enough for one day."

"Woos." Dean opened the room door and followed him in. "You know you love the plate."

Sam laughed. "You make it sound like it has magical properties."

"Who says it doesn't?" Dean pulled the first aid kit from the bag by his bed and pushed Sam down into a chair. "I get done sewing your neck back together we should test it. Make sure nothing comes out where it shouldn't."

"Ok, that just sounded wrong." Sam rolled his eyes as Dean pushed his head back and started cleaning the cut. He might have argued he could stitch it up himself but sitting felt so good, he didn't want to move.

"Getcher brain out of the gutter, Sammy." Dean chuckled and winced in sympathy at Sam's pained hiss as he pressed an alcohol pad against the open wound.

"MY brain?" Sam asked and laughed again at the ridiculous accusation. "This coming from the gutter brain king."

"Watch it or I'll get creative with these stitches." Dean warned him. He easily batted Sam's hand away from his head. "Sit still." He took out the bottle of whiskey he kept in the first aid kit and handed it to Sam. "Pain killer."

Sam snorted but took a healthy gulp, swallowing the burning heat and scrunching his eyes shut as the movement made his neck hurt. "You ever notice every damn thing goes for my neck?"

Dean let out a startled laugh and threaded the suture needle while Sam took another drink. "I'm not the only one who thinks you should shut up more often. Geek." He tilted Sam's head back again and slid the needle through, creating the first stitch. Sam kept his flinch as small as he could and Dean nodded, appreciative as he made the second.

"You were right." Sam said suddenly as Dean made the third stitch.

"I'm always right." Dean replied. "What about this time?"

Sam rolled his eyes at the response. "Tim. Should have let the Strangler kill him. He's just one more thing we have to worry about now. I'm sorry."

Dean took his chin and forced his head down so he could look his brother in the eye. "Don't you dare apologize for that bastard." He growled. "Yes I wanted him dead but you were right. We're better than that. We're not murderers." He waited for Sam's nod and then pushed his head back again. "But that was his last reprieve. He comes after you again…" Dean tied off the third stitch and started the last. "He won't walk away." He quickly made the fourth stitch and cleaned the cut again before letting Sam lower his head.

"Lot a things are your fault right now, Sam." Dean said seriously. "Hell, some of 'em are my fault but that sorry son of a bitch is not on either of our lists. You got that?"

Sam nodded and blinked away the moisture that sprung up in his eyes. "Yeah." He nodded; his voice gruff with emotion.

"Good." Dean took the whiskey bottle and drank from it. "Now, that waitress in Santa Fe? Totally your fault."

"What?" Sam laughed and tossed the bloody rag at his head. "She was so your fault."

"Didn't end up in my bed." Dean shrugged and headed for the bathroom.

"Cause you were falling down drunk and crawled into mine by mistake you idiot!" Sam shouted as the door closed on his brother's laughter. "What the hell was she supposed to think?"

Dean stuck his head back out the door. "Hope you like cold showers, Sammy." He shut the door on Sam's irritated growl and chuckled. He glanced up at the ceiling and silently thanked Castiel for bailing them out; grateful for the bad-tempered cushion he heard hit the bathroom door and thought just maybe they would make it out of the apocalypse alive as long as they were together. He stripped and climbed into the shower, turning his still burned chest away from the hot spray and didn't hear his little brother sneak in nor see the hand that reached for the toilet handle with a soft chuckle.

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The End.

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