So this idea's been floating around in my head for a while now and I figured if I didn't act upon it soon I never would.

This story takes place first in season 3. I haven't picked an exact episode for it to be placed after, but if it's necessary for plot reasons I'll definitely say so.

In the flashbacks Sam is 11 and Dean just turned 16, so the weather is still very wintery and snowy and cinnamon-y. At least, that's my version of winter.

I wonder if anyone actually reads this.

If they do, they probably think I'm super annoying.

Anyway, there will most definitely be hurtSam and Dean later on.

Got your attention now, didn't I?

I'm just messin' with you. I hope you enjoy!


The bed was empty when Sam woke up, sheets mussed and turned back, but no big brother present.

He rubbed his eyes with stiff fingers as he sat up, closing the laptop and with it, the latest pages on hellhounds or immortality or deals or exorcisms or whatever the hell he had googled at midnight last night.

He didn't remember anything past the second beer and the third tired reprimand from Dean, spoken softer than before.

Because Dean had been marking off days just as Sam had. And Sam knew Dean had been watching him as he fell asleep with musty old books open more often every day.

"Glad you caught an hour or two." Dean spoke suddenly. He held a cup of coffee in each hand, raising his eyebrows when his voice startled Sam, who hadn't realized Dean was in the room at all, let alone leaning on the bathroom doorframe watching him the past minute and a half.

The mug was set in front of him and Sam wrapped his hands around it, letting the warmth seep into his palms.

"But seriously, man, if you don't get a couple more hours of shut eye without imprinting that keyboard on your face, I'm going to haunt your ass."

Dean meant it lightly. He didn't- or pretended not to- notice Sam flinch at the memory of the last time the hunter had attempted that line.

Dean was dying then too. It was a strange parallel, thinking of back then. Shortly after Jess and everything.

When Dad was alive...

Being with Dean was like riding a bike. They melded instantly, and the Rawhead had tested everything they had patched together.

It was happening all over again. Dean was just a little less pale.

"I found a case." He spoke up when it seemed Sam was content to just staring at the cup Dean had handed him.

"We're busy, Dean. We don't have time for a case."

Dean sighed, ran a hand through his hair. "I need you to take your mind off of this. Come on, Sam, Bobby called. It's just a salt 'n burn. We'll be in and out in a week, tops."

"Your wish is my command," Sam grumbled, but packed his things, trying to ignore the smirk on Dean's face.

It was pitch black by the time they reached Bobby's, Sam at the wheel. Dean was dead asleep— no, fast asleep, Sam corrected himself quickly— in the passenger seat, facing the window, John's journal clutched in his hands with an iron grip.

Sam doubted he'd been looking something up. It was probably half for the comfort of having his father's most personal possession close by, and half so Sam didn't get to see it.

Sam, who had started looking through the first part of the journal more and more. It was the heartfelt half of the book— full of scrawled and almost illegible documentations of events.

Sam's three today. Dean seemed happier about the event than his brother. Kept smiling and bouncing around. Got Sammy his own copy of Green Eggs and Ham. One of his favorites. Dean's been reading it non-stop now. Had to-

That's when Dean had snatched it out of his hands, claiming "it wasn't time to get sappy yet." Sam had growled beneath his breath and hadn't gotten it back since.

Dean had stuffed it in his jacket pocket, slept with it under his pillow, brought it in the bathroom. As if, by some miracle, stopping Sam from reminiscing of simpler, more innocent times, the need to save him would disappear.

A knock on the window jarred him into reality. Bobby Singer, in full gruffness and with a hat resting confidently on his head, bent down to level of the car.

The click of the passenger door announced Dean's consciousness and Sam glanced over to see the journal still firmly in his hand. No surprise there.

"Plannin' on unbuckling, Sam?" Bobby opened the door and Sam hastily climbed out, stretching his legs as he walked to the trunk to help Dean with their stuff.

"Thanks for letting us crash for the night," Sam said as he slung his duffel over his shoulder. Dean did the same, falling into step beside him, their strides falling into sync.

Sam managed a smile at that. They never tried to match each other step-for-step. He guessed it'd become a habit at some point, no matter who was taller, or who had longer legs, it felt comfortable. One of the few things Sam could do the same as his older brother. They even stopped walking simultaneously as they emerged into Bobby's maze of books he called the main room.

"So what're we dealing with here, Bobby?" Dean questioned, sliding a finger along a particularly old and unused book, rubbing the dust between his forefinger and thumb.

"It's just a ghost problem. Believe it or not, you're the closest available hunters so..." His voice trailed off, not eager to state the reason why all the hunters were so busy.

Because we let hundreds of demons out of Hell.

Because I let hundreds of demons out of Hell. Sam shuddered. He'd almost lost Dean too many times to count.

Dean whistled. They'd driven all day to get here and they still had a bit of a drive tomorrow. "Woulda done it myself, but, uh..." He lowered his voice again, this time his gaze leading to a stack of books. Dean nodded in assumption that Bobby must be working another case.

Sam met the older hunter's eyes and nodded with even more understanding. He'd practically begged the man to look through his old books, for anything on hellhounds or Lillith.

But Bobby had insisted begging wasn't necessary. He'd already begun weeks ago.

Now the father figure looked him over, narrowing his eyes at the bags under Sam's and the way he stifled yet another yawn and checked his watch again.

"The man's name was Julius Pater," Bobby spoke casually, beginning to detail them. Both boys stiffened, Sam's hand ghosting over his heart.

Dean shook his head at Sam, already seeing the way his brother was looking at him.

It's history, Sam. His eyes told him. He can't hurt you anymore. Or me. Can't hurt us.

BROKEN RIDGE, 1995

Dean placed a gentle hand on Sam's forehead, his little brother unconsciously leaning into the touch as he slept on.

"Fever's broke." Dean guessed in a whisper, an experienced Big Brother guess, as he turned to their father. "Doesn't mean he isn't still sweating like a pig." Sam had one leg tucked under the covers, the other splayed out with the pants leg shoved up, as if he couldn't decide whether he was hot or cold.

"Good." John Winchester closed the laptop. It had been a week since Sam had first gotten the sniffles. Call it genetic or call it dumb Winchester luck, but Sam drew the short stick when it came to his immune system. Once Dean had finally coaxed a true, yet reluctant, health report out of the eleven-year-old, Sam laid off the act. He'd been on bed rest ever since. "Jim and Caleb could really use backup and I'm all they've got." John explained.

Dean laid next to Sam on the bed, placing a hand around his shoulder and rubbing Sam's arm with his thumb. "Where?"

"Not far. Just over the line into Nebraska."

Dean nodded solemnly, taking a moment to eye Sam. "You sure?" He asked. Sam was just getting better, but there was still the aftermath to be wary of, even if it seemed he was doing good. He liked to scare Dean when he was sick.

"I'm sure, Dean. He'll be fine. You wouldn't allow otherwise." He added, showing an honest smile, something that hadn't come from the oldest hunter lately. It washed over Dean with a sense of calm and he couldn't help but agree.

"You know it. We'll be fine." He assured, squeezing Sam's shoulder.

"I left cash on the kitchen counter, Sam's meds are in there too, and don't forget, Dean, Sammy's sick, you're not. Daily workout, the usual, got it? Keep in touch."

"Yes, sir." Dean answered obediently.

John walked over to his youngest and placed a hand on his head like Dean had moments before. He sighed in relief as he came to the same conclusion as his eldest.

"Sammy?" Sam's eyes fluttered as John ran a callused hand through his hair, tracing a path to the nape of his neck with the gruff affection that seeped through the drill sergeant when his boys weren't one hundred percent. The boy savored the moment, one that had occurred less and less frequently as he entered his tweens. Finally, Sam opened his eyes half way and then completely, blinking slowly and sitting up. Dean adjusted his arm, but didn't remove it. Neither complained.

"Dad?"

"Hey, buddy. I've got to go. Jim and Caleb need help... But Dean's gotcha, okay?" Sam nodded, but it was obvious the next step was to sleep off the remainder of the sickness and he soon drifted off again, which was just fine, as Dean managed to shrug out from under him and follow John out to his room.

"There's plenty of food, you shouldn't need to go grab anything. I've got days of drugs for Sam, but call if you have any problems of course."

Dean nodded again, anxious to return to his brother. John must have known about this hunt earlier. His duffel was packed and waiting by his bed. He slung it over his shoulder and brushed past Dean.

"You have keys?"

"Yes, sir."

"Lock the door behind me."

"Yes, sir."

"And Dean?"

"Yeah?"

"The most important rule?"

Dean looked his father right in the eyes, his voice sincere. "Watch out for Sammy."

John clapped him on the back and left, though Dean could tell by his shadow that he lingered by the doorstep until he was sure he heard the click of the lock.

"Dean?" The sixteen-year-old turned at the sound. He couldn't help but smile at a sleepy Sam.

"Yeah?"

Sam swayed slightly, half asleep. He rubbed his eyes but what he really should have done was run a hand through his hair. It stuck up in every direction and, to add to the rumpled effect, his sweatpants were still lopsided, one showing his skinny shin, the other one falling under his foot. "I want milk."

Dean chuckled. "Okay." He grabbed a glass but thought twice, instead swapping it for one of the plastic ones. "How you feeling?" He asked as he opened the fridge.

"Better." Sam replied after a moment's hesitation.

"Took too long to answer there, Sammy Boy. What's up?" He kicked the refrigerator door shut behind him as he poured the liquid out, just over halfway.

"I just still get a little dizzy when I stand up is all." Sam shrugged to italicize the it's-no-big-deal factor. No need to get Dean's overprotective panties in a twist. Sam sighed and swept his bangs aside.

Dean put the cup in Sam's hand and stuck a straw in. "Considering how little you've gotten out of bed lately, that's to be expected."

Sam shuffled over to the couch and sat down, warming his bare feet against the fire. For once, their father had gotten a nice place for them. It was quiet, and surrounded by woods, the nearest neighbors a good distance away, allowing for target practice without anonymous tips to the police about the sounds of gunshots.

Dean joined his brother on the couch, pulling a blanket over both of them. "Feel crappy." Sam admitted, the need for support from his brother winning out over his natural "I'm fine" defense now that Dad was gone. He leaned against Dean and stared at the fire. Dean ruffled his little brother's hair. "I know, I know. But no training for a few days, at least till Dad gets back, and by then you'll be picking' fights with him like it's nothing."

Sam rolled his eyes. "It's not my fault he doesn't care about education."

"It's not my fault you two can fight over who gets which half of a sandwich."

Sam shouldered the teen gently. "Jerk."

"Bitch." Dean replied affectionately.

For the next couple hours they stayed on the couch and stared into the fire, talking about everything ("Dean, where do ghost go?" "We don't really know, Sammy.") and nothing ("We should get a dog." "No.") until Dean's stomach began grumbling.

Sam hadn't spoken in a few minutes, and by the way his breaths came out evenly it was obvious he had fallen asleep again. Dean lifted him off his lap and back against the arm of the couch, folding his half of the blanket back over Sam, earning a mumble and nothing more than a re-position as the boy curled up into the couch.

Dean hummed to himself as he popped one of the last pieces of pizza into the microwave, punching enough buttons to get the thing rotating. Suddenly, the entire house grew black.

"Damn." Dean swore, at least pleased to find Sam still asleep. Of course the outlet box was outside, though. It was freakin' cold out there, too. Dean sucked it up and grabbed a flashlight from his duffel in the bedroom, stopping to grab Sam's Swiss Army knife.

"Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it, huh, little brother?" Dean whispered as he set it on the end table mere inches from Sam's limp, outstretched hand. On second thought, he placed his cell right beside it, just in case Sam woke up and panicked or something. It sounded silly, but when Sam was sick, Dean was prepared for anything and everything little brothers had to offer.

He shoved on his boots and trudged out into the snow, rounding the side of the house. The wind was strong, and he squinted his eyes as flurries stung his face.

The outlet panel was open. "Damn wind." Dean muttered. He flipped the switches back on and closed the panel tightly.

When he finally made it back into the warmth, Sam was sitting up and watching him intently.

"Dean!" He sounded relieved to see his brother.

"Calm down, Samantha, I was outside for five minutes." Sam scoffed and rubbed his eyes tiredly.

"Glad to see the lights are on." Dean said when he got nothing but an evil eye from his brother for the slight teasing.

"They were out?"

"Yeah, man. No worries. Big bro got it covered." He winked, resetting the microwave to heat his pizza. "You hungry?"

Sam shook his head and paled at the thought. Food was the last thing he wanted to think about and as Dean sunk his teeth into the slice, ripping some of the cheese off and attempting to slurp it into his mouth, he breathed slowly to keep himself from throwing up.

He hadn't been sick in two days now, and Dean had promised to take him out once he was certain Sam wouldn't puke all over the Impala's upholstery, a gift from Dad on his sixteenth birthday.

But Sam was pretty close to breaking point. And Dean, being Dean, noticed. "Sammy?"

Sam focused on breathing. Don't throw up. Don't throw up, he chanted. Dean put a hand on his shoulder and he jumped.

"Sam?" Dean repeated. He was inches from Sam's face worriedly, but backed up when he realized the situation at hand. "You gonna spew, kiddo?"

His breath smelled of pizza and it drove Sam over the edge. He nodded vigorously and Dean grabbed the trash can just in time for Sam to empty the contents of his stomach into it.

"Sorry, Dean." He groaned as he jarred back down for another round. "But that pizza was disgusting."

"Mental note, no more Italian..." Dean mumbled, trying to sweep his brother's long hair out of the way as much as possible with his free hand.

Finally, Sam had white-knuckled through enough dry heaving to make Dean want to retch himself, and the sixteen year old rubbed his back encouragingly as he finally sat back and loosened his grip on the container.

"So not fun, man." Sam moaned. "I hate being sick."

"So does everyone, little dude. But I can't give you any of the good stuff for another three and a half hours so..." His voice trailed off as Sam flew into a coughing fit.

Milk was at his lips and Sam clutched the glass, sipping to rid himself of the racking coughs long enough to take a deep breath.

"Where'd that come from?" Dean asked out loud. "Look, I can't give you anything the doc prescribed, but maybe I could get some cough medicine in you. I'll call Dad."

Sam smiled sleepily like it was the best idea he'd ever heard. "Yeah... Call him." He mumbled.

Dean reached over his tired brother to the end table where he knew he'd placed his phone. "Where'd you put my phone?" He asked.

Sam stared at him from his bundle of blankets. "Huh?"

"My phone. I went outside, so I set it here next to..."

"Next to what?" Sam nudged Dean out of his bewildered expression. "Next to what?"

"The knife?"

Now Sam was watching him worriedly. "Dean. There was no knife on the end table. Or your phone."

Dean unraveled himself from the quilt and his brother, kneeling to check under the couch. There was no sign of either missing thing under any of the furniture.

Sam hit Dean's back gently with his hand. "Get up and use the landline, stupid."

Dean stuck his tongue out halfheartedly as he walked to the kitchen.

Sam watched him dial John's number and waited, but Dean stared at the phone like it had just told him Zeppelin was terrible.

"The phone's not working." He said slowly. Setting it down on the table, he walked past Sam and into their bedroom.

"Where do you keep yours!" He shouted across the house.

"It should be with the charger in the wall!" Sam replied. "It was low so I plugged it in last night!" He took a deep gulp of his milkto sooth his burning throat, regretting the yelling.

Dean cleared his throat and Sam looked up to see him in the hallway with wires in his hand. "Dean?" He asked in confusion.

"Where's your phone? I found the charger." He held up the bundle.

Sam opened his mouth to reply when a knock on the door stilled both of them. Dean put up a hand and Sam sat back attentively as the sixteen-year-old crept towards the large double doors of the cabin. There was no peephole, and Dean pulled the gun out of the back of his pants before grabbing the handle.

"Hello?" He asked. The house was silent. His grip on the handgun tightened and he swung the door open enough to poke his head out.

Sam had flung the blankets off his legs and was shuffling towards his brother. "Is anyone out there?" He whispered. Dean shook his head.

He opened the door and made to step out. "No!" Sam cried, taking a fistful of Dean's jacket in his hand to hold him back. "You can't go out there!"

Dean gently pried Sam's fingers off and looked him in the eyes. "I'll be fine. I'm sure it was nothing, okay?" Sam nodded and as Dean pulled away again he raced unsteadily to their room and pulled on boots.

"I'm coming, too." He added defiantly. Dean shook his head. "You're sick."

"You're stupid." Sam countered lamely. The older boy rolled his eyes. "Good one."

"Please?"

Dean told himself not to make eye contact. He could hear in Sam's voice exactly what the kid was up to. "Look, Sam," Dammit. He cursed as his eyes met his brother's. Sam looked so innocent, his hair mussed up, his tired eyes open surprisingly wide... And he was giving Dean the puppy look. "Come on, Sam. That doesn't work on me anymore!" Dean didn't sound very confident. And Sam didn't reply. But he also didn't stop looking up at Dean with watery eyes.

"Fine, but only because it's just a minute, you're burning up as it is, and you're going to promise to relax when we get back inside." He raised his eyebrows as if daring the boy to argue, but Sam just nodded seriously.

Sam grabbed the pocket of Dean's jacket and followed him out. The cold air hit him suddenly and he sucked in a breath, seeing Dean glance at him worriedly. He looked straight on as if nothing had happened and Dean seemed to let it go.

They trudged through the snow down the long driveway and to the Impala waiting at the bottom. It had been too hard to drive the old car up the steep road and Dean wasn't even going to risk it with his baby.

Sam and Dean both noticed at the same time.

"Dean?"

"What the hell?"

"Who..."

"And the tires!"

"Who could... Do this..." Sam breathed.

Covered in a white blanket making the stark black of the car almost invisible, the windows were smashed and the tired slashed completely.

"Dean?" Sam suddenly looked up at his brother with scared eyes. "Dean, who could do this? I thought we were alone!" Dean ran around to the trunk, Sam quickly on his heels. "Son of a bitch!" Dean shouted, slamming his hand on the edge of the Impala. He was staring down at an empty trunk. No guns, no knives, no weapons.

"Dean?" The sixteen-year-old seemed to remember that he wasn't alone and he had a little- sick- brother to take care of. "Let's go, Sammy. Inside. Now!" He turned Sam towards the house and they ran. Sam froze at the open door and Dean tried to push him inside.

"Come on, Sam! What're you waiting for?"

His eyes were wide as he turned to face his older brother, trying to force the words out. "Dean... When we walked out... I closed the door behind me." Dean's eyes mirrored his brother's. That was dangerously mysterious and he debated whether or not they should go in at all. But a glance back towards the car told him all he needed to know.

"Get inside, Sam!" Dean cried.

"But-" The eleven-year-old protested.

"Now!" Dean's commanding voice, so much like their father's, and most likely on purpose, jerked him into action and Dean followed him in, locking the door behind himself.

"The hell, Dean?" Sam couldn't help himself. "Why was the door open?" He whispered. He was smart, he knew why, but he wanted Dean's reassurance that it wasn't what he thought.

"It's okay Sam, whoever it was, they can't be in here anymore." He was already pushing the china cabinet in front of the door.

"How can you be so sure?" Sam urged. His hands were shaking, but from fever or fright, Dean wasn't sure.

He swallowed. "Because, Sammy." He peeked out the window again. "He's standing in the driveway."


What do you think? Should I continue? Drop a review and let me know! I try to respond to all of them! Updates for this story or As the Years Go By won't be as fast as before due to school and this social thing I think they're calling "life" now. Anyway, thanks for reading!