Barely two steps up the ditch bank, Sam lost consciousness; the kid slurring Dean's name between a cough and a breathless wheeze before abruptly slumping against his brother's side.

"Whoa..." Dean blurted, even though he had recognized Sam's I'm-about-to-pass-out tone and had cut his eyes at Bobby in warning of having to stop.

The older hunter had nodded his understanding, and they both had halted their ascent as Sam had indeed passed out between them.

Not paying attention, one of the firemen following close behind roughly bumped into Dean's back seconds later.

Dean said nothing in response – didn't even look over his shoulder – but the fireman immediately apologized.

"Sorry," he offered, inwardly cringing as he braced himself for Dean's delayed reaction; knowing Dean would be pissed that he had not only smacked into Dean but had also unintentionally jostled an injured Sam as the kid had suddenly collapsed against his brother.

The fireman exchanged glances with his crew.

The other firemen offered varied responses; some shrugging while others just stared.

They all waited.

But Dean continued to ignore them, instead focusing on widening his stance to better maintain his balance on the steep slope of the ditch bank as he accepted most of Sam's weight; his brother having predictably turned more toward him than Bobby when the kid had felt himself on the edge of consciousness.

And now Dean had an armful of boneless little brother; a drenched and shivering Sam resting against him as they stood at an awkward angle on the ditch bank; the kid's blood freshly soaking into Dean's saturated shirt as Sam's head had landed in the hollow between Dean's neck and shoulder.

Dean sighed, having expected this – Sam's body too exhausted and weak to tolerate much movement.

But he was still worried about his brother.

And it seemed Bobby was worried about the kid as well.

"He okay?" the older hunter asked, concern coloring his tone as he watched Dean carefully shrug and lift Sam's head with the motion to better see their youngest's face.

"Yeah. I think so..." Dean replied, brushing back Sam's wet bangs as his eyes scanned over his brother before his cold fingers pressed against Sam's even colder skin, feeling a slow but steady pulse faintly thrumming beneath the kid's jawline.

"You want the stretcher?" one of the firemen asked.

Because that would certainly make this easier; just load the injured kid and move on with not two but six men carrying him – firemen specifically trained to do this.

"We still have the stretcher..." the fireman rephrased and vaguely gestured over his shoulder.

Dean didn't even turn around. "No."

The fireman sighed – of course no – and rolled his eyes, safe to do so since Dean wasn't looking at him.

"You sure?" Bobby countered, staring at Dean while still helping to support an unconscious Sam; more than willing to also help carry their youngest up the ditch bank but feeling the need to double-check about the offer of the stretcher.

Dean nodded, his chin lightly bumping into Sam's forehead as his brother rested against him. "I'm sure," he confirmed, his tone making it clear that if anyone mentioned that damn stretcher again, there was going to be trouble.

Bobby nodded, message received.

The firemen did the same.

There was a beat of silence; the scene on the ditch bank faintly illuminated by the flashlight beams that continued to shine down from the other rescue workers still crowded along the edge of the ditch, doing their part as they waited to take a larger part in this rescue once Sam was out of the ditch.

"How is he?" one of the firemen asked, nodding at an unconscious Sam. "Do you need us to – "

" – no, he's fine," Dean interrupted, still not needing or wanting the firemen's assistance with his brother; having taken care of Sam enough over the years to know if the kid was fine or not.

And Sam was fine.

Or at least he would be.

"He's fine," Dean repeated, his gaze flickering among the firemen before refocusing on Sam still slumped against him. "He'll be fine."

The firemen exchanged uncertain glances at the confident prediction.

But Bobby nodded; still supporting his half of Sam while watching his both boys, knowing that Dean was right.

Because despite his current condition, Sam would be fine as soon as they got him home; as soon as they got him clean and warm and tended to; as soon as they got him medicated and settled, Sam would be just fine.

They could handle their kid's injuries back at Bobby's.

Over the next few weeks, they would just have to keep check on the effects of Sam's concussion...and monitor his wet, congested breathing to guard against pneumonia...and keep watch on his wounds for possible infection caused by soaking for so long in the muddy ditch water...and deal with the fallout of him not being able to remember his earlier vision.

But otherwise, Sam would be fine...if they ever got the kid out of this fucking ditch.

Bobby sighed, soothing his frayed nerves by visualizing the familiar outline of his house that would greet them when they turned off the road into his driveway.

But the image only renewed the older hunter's urgency to get his boys there – to get his boys home.

There was a pause.

Bobby cleared his throat. "What do you wanna do?" he asked Dean about Sam, having learned from experience that no one – not even him – made decisions about Dean's little brother without first checking with Dean.

Because while it made sense that they would just continue up the ditch bank and carry Sam between them, maybe Dean had another idea.

Maybe Dean wanted to do something else; maybe he wanted to carry Sam a different way.

And when it came to Sam, Dean usually called the shots...especially in situations like this when the kid was too sick, too injured, or too out of it to speak for himself.

Bobby waited.

The firemen behind them waited as well; the one in charge resisting the urge to once again mention the stretcher.

But Dean said nothing, not even acknowledging the others standing around him as his gaze lingered on Sam still slumped against his side.

The silence stretched – the night disrupted by the vague slosh of the water as it rippled at the edge of the ditch bank; the quiet rustling of the wind through the wet, tall grass; the murmur of voices from the other rescue workers still waiting above.

Bobby sighed, the physical strain of standing at this angle on the steep ditch bank beginning to make his legs cramp...not to mention the knot of burning muscles in his lower back beginning to protest his and Dean's shared load.

Because although Bobby and Dean often still thought of Sam as a kid, Sam was most definitely not a kid anymore but was taller than they were and heavier than he looked...especially when he was completely unconscious and supported none of his own weight.

Bobby tightened his grip around Sam's wrist; the kid's arm still pulled across his shoulders even though Sam's body was turned almost entirely toward Dean.

...which meant Dean's muscles had to be cramping and burning as well.

But Dean didn't seem to mind as he patiently supported his brother; staring down at Sam and continuing to monitor the kid's vitals; his fingers keeping check on Sam's pulse as he listened to his brother's noisy inhalations.

And that was important. They didn't need to move until Sam's shocky condition was relatively stable again.


Bobby cleared his throat once more. "Dean..."

Because Bobby didn't mean to rush, but he wasn't as young as he used to be and there was an expiration on his endurance and stamina that was quickly approaching.

Plus, the night air wasn't getting any less damp or cold...and Sam wasn't getting any less hypothermic.

Neither was Dean.

After all, Sam hadn't been the only brother freezing his ass off in this ditch over the past hour – Dean had been right beside the scared, injured kid since he had arrived at the scene.

At the reminder, Bobby felt a fresh swell of pride for his oldest – constantly amazed by how selfless Dean was when it came to Sam – and twitched a smile before also reminding himself that now was not the time to be sappy.

Now was the time for action.

And Bobby's primary concern right now was getting his drenched and freezing boys dry and warm and home.

In fact, that combination sounded damn good to the older hunter as well since Bobby was also wet and cold from his time spent alongside the brothers in the flooded ditch.

"Dean..." Bobby called again, his thinning patience sharpening his tone and finally attracting the attention of his oldest. "We need to move. Now."

There. Decision made.

The firemen still positioned behind the big brother and the tow truck driver on the ditch bank nodded their agreement but shifted nervously, each expecting Dean to deliver a heated comeback to Bobby's order.

Bobby waited for the same, prepared for equally sharp words and an annoyed scowl from his oldest.

But Dean only nodded, shaking off the effects of exposure and of his own trauma that had momentarily dulled his reaction time. He blinked, instantly feeling more alert, and was reminded that his priority was getting the injured, half-frozen, nearly drowned, passed out kid currently resting against him out of this ditch.

Sam needed to get dry and warm and clean and stitched and medicated and fed and hydrated...and the list went on.

But none of that could happen until they got Sam home.

And that's exactly where Dean was taking him.

Dean smiled fondly despite their situation. "Hang on, Sammy..." he urged his unconscious brother and then glanced at Bobby.

Bobby stared back, relieved to see the spark of determination return to Dean's eyes.

"Alright. We're moving. Let's go..." Dean announced; then paused, cutting his eyes at Bobby once more. "Just be careful with him..."

Be careful with Sam – like Bobby would be anything but careful with the unconscious kid between them.

But Bobby made no comment as he nodded, pleased to see Dean now free from whatever daze he had momentarily been lost in and instead back in charge of his big brother role.

Because nobody handled that role like Dean.


Bobby twitched a smile and nodded again.

Dean nodded as well and shifted beneath Sam in preparation to move; the fingers of his left hand holding Sam's left wrist while his right arm wrapped more securely around Sam's slim waist as they stepped forward.

Bobby readjusted his grasp on their youngest and matched his steps with Dean's as Dean led the way.

The firemen followed.

Eight men, nine counting Sam, all heading in the same direction – up and out.

The flashlight beams lit their way.

Several minutes passed; the earlier storm having made the ground muddy and the grass slippery, increasing the difficulty of the climb up the already steep bank.

Dean swallowed a grunt as the toes of his boots dug into the soft, wet earth, carving out footholds while his heels sunk into the muck before he roughly pulled them up and pushed forward, leaving cleat prints in his wake.

Beside him, Bobby was fighting the same battle – his boots becoming temporarily stuck in the mud with every step he took.

It was an exhausting routine, like hiking in quicksand.

Behind them, the firemen trudged and cursed; their boots also sinking in the mud.

Squish, suck, pop...

Squish, suck, pop...

One step after echoing chorus of perseverance and determination to complete this rescue.

Squish, suck, pop...

And through it all, Sam remained oblivious; eyes closed, body lax, head bobbing on Dean's shoulder as he was held securely but awkwardly between his big brother and Bobby.

Dean shook his head. The things he and the older hunter did for this kid...

Though honestly, there was nothing they wouldn't do for this kid.

Several more minutes passed; the trip to the top taking longer than expected since they were literally ankle deep in the ongoing Battle of Mud...not to mention the added challenge of carrying close to 200 pounds of unconscious little brother.

This climb under these conditions could qualify as a fucking Olympic event.


Dean clenched his jaw, increasing his grip around Sam as his brother seemed to sag, and then continued to push himself forward even as he could feel his own muscles trembling from exertion and fatigue; even as he was beginning to wonder if they were ever going to make it out of this fucking ditch.

"We're almost there," Bobby encouraged, sensing Dean's frustration, and saw Dean nod in response; his oldest too focused on the task at hand to waste time or breath on actually speaking.

They continued to climb with the firemen following; the flashlight beams still shining from above serving as the proverbial lights at the end of this long-ass tunnel shaped like a flooded ditch.

Dean and Bobby continued to support Sam between them; the kid's arms across both of their shoulders but Sam's head still lolling against Dean and rocking back and forth with each step they took – the repetitive motion strangely trusting and thus igniting a wave of protectiveness in Dean.

Because no matter how much this sucked...or how hard this was...or how sore and tired he was, Sam was depending on him, was depending on Dean.

And that was the only reminder the big brother needed to keep going.

Dean nodded; his jaw aching from how tightly he was still clenching it as he completely focused on putting one foot in front of the other without rushing, without unintentionally hurting Sam or unnecessarily exhausting himself any further.

Because getting Sam out of the ditch was only half the battle; getting Sam home and taking care of him was the other half, and Dean would need his energy.

Bobby would need his energy as well.

After all, once Sam was safely out of the ditch, the police and firemen would still want the pickup truck removed from the ditch as well as part of clearing the accident scene, even if the old clunker was truly a piece of junk now with the damage it had sustained in the wreck and in the iron grip of the Jaws of Life.

But that was protocol – to tow away the vehicle casualties – and Dean could handle transporting Sam back to Bobby's; could take care of the kid by himself until the older hunter made it home.

Actually, Dean preferred to take care of the Sam by himself.

But for now, they kept climbing; Dean and Bobby keeping their pace steady and their movements careful, always aware of the precious cargo they were carrying between them.

Sam remained unconscious.

The firemen continued to follow; watching Dean and Bobby's six as promised; having their backs should they need help.

But the older brother and the tow truck driver were holding their own, quite literally.

Seconds passed.

The top of the ditch bank drew closer until it was steps away...finally.

"Glory, glory...halle-fucking-lujah..." Dean quipped, his tone reflecting his exhausted relief as well as his dark mood.

Because this ordeal had taken too fucking long and if Sam's overall condition had worsened because of it...

"He'll be fine," Bobby soothed, knowing Dean's thoughts, especially since he shared the big brother's concern. "We'll get him home...and he'll be fine," the older hunter assured about Sam and then swallowed, winded more than he would admit by the climb up the ditch bank; physical exertion to this extent always being an unpleasant reminder that he was no spring chicken.

But Father Time could go fuck himself, the bastard.

Bobby had a job to do – to help rescue his youngest – and he damn well was going to continue to do it even if he was huffing and puffing like the fat old man he was.

Dean glanced at Bobby as they drew nearer to the top of the ditch. "Are you fine?" he asked, only half joking.

Because the older hunter was flushed despite the cool night air and was panting as though he had raced up the ditch bank.

Bobby glared, even as he was touched by Dean's thinly veiled concern. "Shut up," he growled.

Dean twitched a smile.

"Smartass," Bobby added and shook his head irritably.

Dean chuckled once – hearing the affection in the older hunter's tone – and nodded.

"Good," Dean replied, responding to Bobby's indirect assertion that he was indeed fine, and then refocused on the one among them who was most certainly not fine – Sam.

Bobby followed Dean's gaze. "Is he still out?" he asked about Sam's state of consciousness, unable to see for himself since the kid's face was still turned toward Dean – always turned toward Dean in response to the same instinct that always made Dean turn toward seeking brother.

I'm here. You're here.

We're together.

All that ever mattered...we're together.

The soul-deep bond those boys shared was enough to make an old hunter's heart ache.

Bobby cleared his throat and shook his head, not having time for feelings right now.

"Is he?" Bobby checked, still asking about whether or not Sam remained unconscious.

But their youngest hadn't moved or made a sound, so...

"Oh, yeah..." Dean confirmed about the kid still passed out against him and then glanced up, squinting in the glare of the flashlights as someone above started yelling.

"They're here!" a man called as if they were guests at a surprise party. "They're here!" he said again, alternately peering over the edge of the ditch and looking back over his shoulder at the waiting crowd. "They're here!"

The two-word phrase then echoed in a game of verbal dominoes. The announcement repeated several times in different voices as word spread through the accident scene that finally – finally – the kid and his rescuers were nearing the top of the ditch bank.

"It's a miracle," someone proclaimed and others readily agreed.

But those declarations were almost immediately followed by frowns once they more fully realized Sam's condition.

Because maybe they had spoken too soon since the kid who had been trapped in the crushed truck, the kid who had almost drowned in the flooded ditch now hung limply between his two primary rescuers.

The concerning sight ignited a murmur of worried suspicions through the crowd that continued to watch their slow ascent.

"Oh my god..." the same someone gasped seconds later. "Is he alive?"

"Of course he is," someone else dismissed, refusing anything but a happy ending to this scene. "He's just tired and hurt."

"Well, yeah..." the first person agreed...because duh. Someone didn't survive a crash like this one without at least being tired and hurt. "But is he even conscious?"

The other person shrugged since from where they stood, it was impossible to see if the kid was awake. "Hard to tell."

The first person nodded and remained quiet as they watched the rescuers and firemen approach the edge of the ditch.

"Here comes the fun part..." Bobby commented sarcastically and sighed at the task in front of them.

Dean sighed as well and stared upwards, his gaze scanning the edge of the ditch bank for the best area to transfer Sam over the side.

Bobby did the same. "How do you wanna do this?" he asked, glancing at his oldest as he and Dean once again halted their ascent.

Because while the next step they took would finally put them over the edge of the ditch bank, it wasn't going to be that easy.

The top of the ditch jutted out at a sharp angle that would make it impossible to simply carry Sam over it. Instead, the kid would have to be lifted over it, meaning either Dean or Bobby would have to support Sam on the ditch bank long enough for the other to climb out of the ditch and then pull the kid up.

Dean glanced at Bobby, uncertain if the older hunter could hold Sam by himself even though doing so would require less effort and strength than hauling Sam up and over the edge of the ditch.

But still...Sam was heavy...and the incline was steep...and Bobby was already noticeably struggling to keep his balance even with Dean supporting more than half of Sam's weight.

So, maybe...

Dean sighed, his gaze going beyond Bobby as he decided to finally let the firemen do what they had wanted to do all night – help with Sam.

After all, an extra six pairs of hands were better than just two, and Dean was over this – didn't care as much anymore about his default setting of self-reliance as he did about getting his brother out of this fucking ditch and headed home.

Dean nodded, decision made, and glanced at Bobby.

Having silently followed Dean's train of thought, the older hunter returned the nod, agreeing with Dean's plan...and secretly grateful.

Because while Bobby wanted to be able to hold Sam by himself, he loved the kid enough to admit there was no way he could do that now, not after the unforgiving trek up the ditch bank.

And god forbid if Sam accidently slipped from his grasp while the kid was on his watch...

Just the thought made Bobby want to shudder.

"Hey..." Dean called, scattering Bobby's thoughts as he stared past the older hunter.

The firemen startled slightly at the sound of Dean's voice and stared back at the older brother; equal parts interested and wary.

"Come help hold him," Dean ordered, gesturing toward Sam; his little brother almost fully leaning against him now that they had stopped climbing.

The fireman in charge blinked at the unexpected turn of events. "What?"

Dean narrowed his eyes in annoyance, not bothering to repeat his first order but simply issuing another. "Now," he growled, pleased to see the firemen move their asses in response; all six men suddenly crowding around him and Sam and Bobby to lend their strength and physical support.

"But where are you going?" one of them asked Dean, accepting Sam's weight as he traded places with the big brother; the transfer slow and gentle in order not to jostle the injured kid.

Dean didn't answer the question, too focused on Sam instead. "Be careful with him. Support his head..." he told the fireman, sounding like he was giving instructions on the proper way to hold a baby Sammy.

And in a way, that's exactly how this felt – handing your child over to complete strangers, trusting them to take care of him in your absence.

"I've got him..." Bobby assured Dean, reaching to guide Sam's head to his shoulder; a paternal protectiveness stirring in the older hunter's chest.

Dean nodded, his gaze lingering on his brother; reminding himself that his absence from Sam would only be brief and that this was best for the kid; that Sam wasn't alone with the firemen but had Bobby beside him as well.

It was a small comfort.

Meanwhile, Sam remained unconscious, limply sagging between Bobby and this other fireman who had taken Dean's place; the other firemen gathered around on the steep ditch bank and offering support from behind and on both sides.

Sam was as safe as he could get in this current situation.

...which meant it was time for Dean to move forward with the final part of this rescue.

"Okay..." Dean sighed; his boots slipping in the mud and wet grass as he carefully turned on the ditch bank. "Be ready when I am," he called over his shoulder to Bobby and the firemen.

Because when he reached the top and was in position to pull Sam up, he did not want to wait for them to hand him his brother.

"And be careful with him..." Dean added, once again repeating his motto of the night; that detail more important than any other – that whoever was handling Sam was careful with the kid.

Because Sam had enough problems – was already cold and wet and bloody – without having to endure something else happening.

"We've got him," Bobby once again assured Dean about Sam. "You be careful," he warned, watching as Dean climbed the steep bank.

Dean grunted his acknowledgement of the older hunter's concern for his safety but made no other response.

Seconds later, Dean grasped the outstretched hands above; other rescue workers reaching for him and helping to pull him over the edge of the ditch.

Bobby released the breath he had been holding. "Atta boy…" he quietly praised, nodding his approval of Dean's successful climb and feeling a wave of relief; thankful this ordeal was almost over.

"Okay, sir..." one of the policemen told Dean, attempting to push the big brother away from the ditch and toward the waiting ambulance instead. "You go get checked out by the medics and leave this to us. Don't worry. We'll handle the rest. We'll get your brother out."

Dean scowled and snatched from the policeman's grasp. "Like hell you will," he snapped and was freshly thankful that he was the one who had come up the ditch bank first.

Because although Dean was confident that Bobby would have protected Sam from the obviously eager and anxious crowd waiting for them, he wanted to be the one who stood between them and his brother; he wanted to be the one to shield Sam from pushy policemen and grabby medics.

The policeman frowned at Dean. "Sir..."

"I'm getting Sam out," Dean informed, his tone leaving no room for debate. "Just stand by in case I need you..." he added, knowing his pride wasn't worth the risk of Sam getting hurt in this process.

So if it turned out that he needed extra hands to safely lift his brother from the ditch, then Dean would ask for them.

But for now...

Dean crouched beside the edge of the ditch and then eased himself down on his stomach; his cold, wet body on the cold, wet ground as he reached over the side for his brother.

"Let's go. Let me have him..." Dean ordered and nodded at Bobby and the firemen as they stared up at him with Sam still supported in the middle of their huddle on the ditch bank below.

Bobby returned the nod. "You heard him," he told the firemen. "Let's go. Slow and steady..."

The firemen nodded as well; all six moving in step with Bobby as the older hunter led the way up the ditch bank.

Dean watched, his heart hammering in his chest; never comfortable with other people being in full charge of Sam's care...even if those other people included Bobby.

Seconds passed.

"Almost there..." Bobby announced, the encouragement meant for himself as much as for the firemen. "Just keep it slow and steady, boys..."

The firemen nodded again and kept climbing; some helping to carry Sam while others provided the strength and solidarity of a cohesive unit as they moved as one.

Bobby clenched his jaw, pushing through the pain in his arms and legs and back as he climbed; reminding himself that the only thing that mattered was getting Sam home.

Bobby nodded and glanced at his youngest as the kid's head continued to rest on his shoulder...and then did a double-take when he realized Sam's eyes were open.

"Whoa..." the older hunter blurted. "Stop."

The firemen instantly obeyed, halting their ascent mere inches from Dean's reach and directing their attention to Bobby.

Dean did the same, frowning as he stared at Bobby. "What? What's wrong?" he demanded and then saw for himself as Sam moved his head.

"He's waking up," Bobby informed, knowing that Dean had noticed his brother's barely perceptible movement, and then smiled at Sam as the kid blinked at him. "It's okay," the older hunter assured his youngest.

But Sam didn't respond; his eyes squinted in pain and confusion as his gaze roamed the immediate area.

Bobby recognized the vacant expression that was strangely focused; Sam hurting from the injuries he had sustained in the wreck and being disoriented by all that he had endured in the flooded ditch, but the kid still clearly having a purpose for his visual search.

Bobby glanced up at Dean. "I think he's looking for you."

Dean nodded – because of course Sam was looking for him.

"Sammy..." Dean called; the wet grass and mud freshly coating his already dirty, saturated clothes as he continued to sprawl on his stomach and slid his body closer to the edge of the ditch to better reach for Sam.

Still resting against Bobby's shoulder, Sam's head slowly turned in the direction of Dean's voice, seeking his brother.

Dean smiled as Sam blinked up at him.

Sam swallowed. "D'n..." he slurred; the name barely a word inside the wheezed breath and hoarse voice.

"Right here, man..." Dean assured calmly, his smile briefly widening as Sam visibly relaxed at the sight of him. "I'm right here. And you're okay. But what d'ya say we get you the hell outta here and go home?"

Sam swallowed again before uncoordinatedly nodding, his head moving back and forth on Bobby's shoulder.

Dean returned the nod. "Okay. Just hang on, Sammy..." he urged and then motioned for Bobby and the firemen to hand over Sam.

"Alright, on three..." Bobby ordered, briefly making eye contact with each fireman to make sure they were all in sync.

The firemen nodded.

"One..." Bobby counted.

Everyone assumed their positions, ready to lift.


Dean's fingers twitched, adrenaline pulsing through his system as he continued to lay on his stomach against the wet ground; the upper half of his body practically hanging over the edge of the ditch to reach Sam.


And with that, Sam was hoisted up; the kid gasping at the pain and dizziness that instantly flared throughout his body from the sudden movement; his injuries protesting the unintentional rough treatment.

"You're okay," Dean soothed his brother, recognizing the pinched expression on Sam's face that reflected the agony coursing through him. "You're okay, you're okay..." he repeated, securely hooking his hands beneath Sam's arms and pulling the kid up while simultaneously trying to slide himself back along ground.

But Dean's boots were slipping in the mud.

...which meant Dean wasn't moving away from the edge of the ditch quick enough...which meant Sam was dangerously dangling in the air, held in Dean's grasp but now beyond Bobby and the firemen's reach and thus beyond their help.

"Shit..." Dean hissed, still lying on his stomach against the ground and feeling the muscles in his arms beginning to shake.

Because Sam was too heavy to hold like this for much longer.

In fact, at this rate, Sam would pull Dean over the edge and they would both end up back at the bottom of the flooded ditch.

Dean clenched his jaw against that possibility – because no fucking way was that going to happen – and continued to struggle, continued to try to push himself back from the ditch and thus pull Sam to safety.

Below, Bobby and the firemen watched in speechless horror; all seven men slipping in the mud and falling over each other as they tried to scramble up the ditch bank to help the brothers before it was too late.

Still held in Dean's grasp, Sam whimpered and moaned; the pain from his injuries intensifying at being held so awkwardly; his torso barely supported while his lower half continued to dangle over the edge.

"Shit..." Dean repeated, his heart pounding in his temples.

Because this was not happening.

This was not happening.

"Hang on, Sammy..." Dean called to his brother, tightening his grip under Sam's arms, and then cut his eyes over his shoulder. "Grab my legs!" he yelled at the policeman and other rescue workers seeming too stunned to move. "Now! Grab my legs!"

The men blinked, instantly understanding the implication of that order, and lunged forward – at least four of them grabbing Dean's legs and pulling him back, pulling Dean away from the edge of the ditch...and bringing Sam with him.

"Easy, easy, easy..." Dean warned, thankful for the extra help but concerned how the suddenly rapid pace and rough movement would affect Sam since he was essentially dragging his injured little brother with him along the ground as the policeman and rescue workers pulled them both back.

But Dean would assess Sam's condition in a minute.

For now, he was just happy that Sam was out of the ditch.

Finally...the kid was out.

Glory, glory...halle-fucking-lujah.