Disclaimer: I own nothing except the feelings this show gives me.

Warnings: Angst, character death, possible spoilers if you haven't seen season 7. Insinuated Wincest, I suppose, but that's up to the reader.

Dean took a deep breath as he stepped into Sam's room, bracing himself for what he might see there. Thankfully, Sam was sitting up in bed, staring at the wall. Or, rather, it looked like he was staring /past/ the wall. There's no telling what he was actually looking at, which could be unnerving at times, in all honesty. But Dean didn't complain; at least his brother was still alive.

He sat at the foot of Sam's bed, a cold ache forming in the pit of his stomach at the sight of him. His baby brother, once so lively and warm and perfect, barely even looked like himself anymore. Sure, there were elements of him, buried beneath the pain and the sheer exhaustion, but he just wasn't Sam. It was killing Dean to see him like this; killing him to know there wasn't a damn thing he could do to fix it. He knew. He'd tried. Nothing, save possibly a crossroads deal with a demon, could help his brother. And even that, he doubted. After all, could a demon undo the damage Lucifer himself had done? Banish him from the recesses of the younger Winchester's mind? He doubted that sincerely, and besides, Sam had made him swear not to make another deal of that sort.

Dean gently laid his hand on Sam's foot, making his presence known. Sam startled, almost as though he'd been awakened from sleeping, and gave him a weary smile. "Hey, Dean." Quiet. Thready. Sam was so weak. Fighting with everything he had in him to hold on long enough for Dean to find a way to help him.

And Dean had failed. All he could do at this point was be here for Sam, for the inevitable when it came. And to hear that weakness in Sam's voice just turned the blade in his gut. "Hey, Sammy." He was trying to be strong too, but there was only so much a man could take. "How are you feeling?"

"Kind of... numb."

"Numb's good, right?"

"It's... new." He closed his eyes briefly, and it took several seconds for them to regain focus on Dean's face when they reopened. "But it's not... unpleasant. Almost like I'm dreaming." He blinked, rubbing his eyes with one hand. "...everything's fuzzy though."

Dean's stomach clenched. While he was glad Sam wasn't hurting, the fact that anything 'new' was going on gave him cause for alarm. New meant he may not have a baby brother for very long. New was terrifying. He stood and moved up to sit next to Sam, putting an arm around his shoulders. He had to suppress a keen of pain to feel him this way. Sam's body was just as muscular as it had always been, but he could /feel/ his weakness. The way Sam leaned against him as though he had no strength, the cooler-than-normal temperature of his skin, and that terrible vacancy in his eyes. The spark had faded. His baby brother was languishing.

"I'm so tired, Dean..." Sam murmured, leaning his head against his older brother's shoulder.

Something inside Dean broke. It wasn't the words so much as the sentiment behind them. Of course Sam was tired. He hadn't had proper sleep in... what was it, nearly a month now? No, Sam wasn't just saying he was tired. He was giving up. Giving in. Tearing Dean's heart out, and the worst part of it was that Dean understood completely, and had even expected it. He'd last longer than either of them had anticipated; Sam's immune system was shot, his blood pressure was up, and his core body temperature had dropped. They'd known it was only a matter of time if Dean couldn't find a way to save him. It seemed Sam had reached the inevitable end. Expected, yes. But that didn't make it any less painful. Dean forced a smile, though his lips were trembling, and his voice broke as he spoke quietly to his brother. "I know, Sammy... I'm... I'm here." He wet his lips, swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. It took a moment to get the next words out. "Just... rest."

Sam looked at him for what seemed like forever, and Dean wondered if he even saw him at all, those beautiful eyes seemingly shifting in and out of focus. But Sam could see him. He was studying his face as best he could, trying to hold on. Dean had done so much for him, and he'd never really felt like he'd paid him back. Not really. And now... and now, he was going to be leaving him behind again. It felt selfish, but he was only human after all. He could feel himself slipping, and it scared him. Not for his own sake, so much, but for Dean's. He laid a hand gently on top of his older brother's thigh, wanting to offer some sliver of comfort, however brief.

It was Dean, though, who comforted him instead, lifting a hand to gently run his fingers through Sam's hair, his voice quiet and strained as he began to sing. "Hey Jude, don't make it bad... take a sad song and make it better..."

Sam smiled the tiniest of smiles, his eyes drifting closed. His own voice was soft, but warm. "...goodnight, Dean."

Dean swallowed hard, kissing the top of his baby brother's head with quivering lips. "Goodnight, Sam. I'll be right behind you." He wrapped his arms around Sam, rocking him gently as he continued to sing, trying to ignore the cold emptiness creeping over him when Sam's body went limp, or the hollow ache in his chest when he realized he'd stopped breathing.

He finished the song before he could look at him, at the bangs hanging in his eyes. After brushing them aside gently, he reached for the medicine bottle on Sam's bedside. Sleeping pills that hadn't done him a lick of good... but hopefully they'd serve Dean's purpose. It seemed more fitting than a gun or a knife, but he'd go that route if this failed. He opened the bottle, counting the pills. There were 28. He lay down next to Sam, swallowing the pills one by one and hoping 28 would be enough.

It was.