That didn't last long, Sam thought as he pulled his duffel out of the Impala's trunk. He avoided looking at the picnic bench where he knew Dean was sitting, also avoiding looking at him. He flagged down a truck, climbed in the passenger side, and was gone.

Why did I let him go? Dean thought. He sighed and got up, staring down the road his little brother had hitched a ride down. He asked me not to give up on him and first chance he gives me to get out, I do it. What kind of brother am I? He opens the door and slams it harder than he usually does. His usual babying of the Impala gone in his fury. Not at Sam, no, at himself.

Pulling out his cell, he hits speed dial #2. "Hey Bobby. No, I'm fine. Sam? He's, um, he's, listen, can I come your way? No he's not dead. We, um, we decided to split up." He yanked the phone away from his ear at the yelling on the other end. When it seemed over, he cautiously put the phone back to his ear and listened. "Yeah, I know. Bobby, I know, okay?! Please! Can I come? Okay, okay. I'll be there tomorrow. Fine. Bye."

Dean sighed and put his phone away. He started his car and headed toward Bobby's. His stomach was twisted into knots like it always did when he and Sammy were separated. His "big brother" radar always went ballistic when he and Sam weren't together. He'd learned to ignore it during the four years Sam was at Stanford but since they'd been hunting together it had returned.

Seven hours later, Sam arrived in Garber, Oklahoma. He saw an ad for a dishwasher in a bar and hurried in. He got the job at once and worked long hours, trying to forget everything that had happened beginning with Dean's mauling. Dean, meanwhile, was ensconced at Bobby's, trying to both avoid the old curmudgeon on wheels and take care of him at the same time. Bobby was furious with Dean for letting Sam go telling him the same things he was telling himself. Dean put his head down, found hunts within a day's drive of Bobby's, and kept himself busy.

A month passed. Sam was closing up one night when a group of men walked in. Sam looked up and knew they were hunters at once. They carefully scoped out the place and not one sat with their back to the door. Sam sighed and headed over. "Guys we're closing in about five minutes. I can get you each a beer, if you'd like."

"A beer, hear that? Little Sammy Winchester wants to get us beers!"

Sam froze and glared at the man who'd spoken. "It's Sam. Do you want those beers or not?"

"We'd rather give you something to drink instead, Sammy," one replied, ignoring Sam's protest of the use of his nickname that he only allowed Dean to use. Before Sam could move, he was surrounded and grabbed. He fought and struggled as he was dragged out of the bar and down the alley behind.

"Hold him, dammit!" one said as Sam struggled. Sam froze as a huge hypodermic was thrust into his vision. "See, Sammy, we have a demon who killed one of our group. We know about your little mind tricks with demons so we're going to use you to kill it."

"No! I won't do it!"

"No choice, Sammy," said the man holding the needle. Sam screamed as the needle was rammed into his arm. The whole dose was administered and Sam slumped to the ground, unconscious. They dragged him into their car and took off.

Two weeks passed without a word from Sam. Bobby was getting worried. He called a group of hunters who were in Sam's vicinity and didn't like the answers he got. "Balls!" Bobby swore. "Dean! Get your ass down here!"

"Okay, okay, hold your horses! What is it?"

"I've not heard from Sam in two weeks. There was a group of hunters near where Sam was and I just spoke with them and I don't like what they told me. I need you to go to Garber, Oklahoma."

"Bobby, I don't have time for this. I've got to..."

"You've got to take care of your idjit brother, that's what you've got to do! Or did that bit of John's training slip your mind?"

"Bobby, I..."

"Go!"

Dean sighed and walked out the door. His duffle was already in the trunk and he headed east toward Oklahoma. A day later he arrived in Garber. He stopped at a bar in the middle of town and ordered a beer. One of the waitresses stared at him and he smiled at her, causing her to gasp and drop a glass.

"Sheila! Watch what you're doing!"

"Sorry!"

Dean headed over to Sheila. "Have we met before?"

Sheila looked up from the floor and replied, "I don't think so, but you remind me a lot of a guy who worked here not long ago."

Dean's radar flew up. "Where is he?"

"That's the thing, I don't know. He was closing up about two weeks ago and just vanished into thin air. Nobody's seen him since. He didn't even pick up his last paycheck."

Dean pulled his wallet out and grabbed one of Sam's old ID's. Carefully covering up the name, he showed the picture to Sheila. "Him?"

"Yeah! How do you know him?"

"He's my kid brother. Do you know where he was living?"

"Hotel right across the street. I've got his check here, if you want it."

Dean nodded and accepted the check. He opened the envelope and stared at the amount. "Is this right?"

She nodded. "He worked lots of overtime."

Dean finished his beer and walked across the street to the hotel. "Hi, I'm looking for this guy," Dean said, pulling out Sam's ID again. "You seen him recently?"

The manager spat a wad of chewing tobacco into a makeshift spittoon and ignored Dean's grimace. "Yeah, he came back two days ago. He was covered with blood and asked me for a first aid kit. I offered to call an ambulance but he said no and limped off."

"What room?"

The manager gave Dean the room number and Dean hurried to Sam's room. He pounded on the door and waited. Nothing. Now officially worried sick, he kicked the door in. The room was a mess with towels and rags everywhere. No sign of his Sasquatch brother, though. He hurried through the room taking note of Sam's laptop on the desk, the bed that had been slept in, and Sam's duffel on the other bed, the one nearest the door. When he got to the bathroom he stared, horrified. Sam lay on the bathroom floor out cold. There was blood everywhere and Dean could see bruises all over his body. He knelt down and saw track marks on one of Sam's arms. "What the hell? Okay, Sammy, let's get you up, kiddo." Dean carefully stepped over his brother and grabbed him under the arms. He lifted gently and Sam gasped and immediately began to struggle.

"No, I won't. No more. Please, no more," Sam slurred as he weakly struggled against Dean's hold.

"Shh, easy, Sammy, it's me. Relax. I'm gonna take care of you."

Sam knew he was dreaming. Dean wouldn't come for him, not anymore. Had to be one of the other hunters back for more fun. Sam stopped struggling, knowing that struggling would only make them hurt him more. The person holding him was speaking but Sam couldn't understand much of what he was saying. He suddenly heard "Sammy" and snapped, "it's Sam, dammit, SAM."

A low chuckle and then, "not to me, you're not." Sam struggled again and the voice said, "easy, Sammy, you're safe now. I gotcha. You're safe."

Sam again stopped struggling and felt himself being placed on the bed. A pillow was under his head and the voice was still speaking. "Okay, kiddo, let's see what the damage is." Hands began to gently undress him and Sam didn't have the energy to protest.

A new voice had Sam sitting straight up in terror. "Well, well, Dean, didn't expect to see you."

Dean started and stood up in front of Sam protectively. "Ray? Oh hey, what are you doing here?" he asked, relaxing as he recognized the older hunter.

"I'm back for our secret weapon."

Dean's smile vanished. "What the hell does that mean?" he growled.

"Are you serious? I'm back for that, that, thing on the bed there. I've got his next dose of demon blood and we're taking him to kill another demon."

Dean stared in disbelief. "You mean you and your crew did this to him?" he asked, pointing to the needle marks.

"Of course. Damn freak wouldn't just drink it so we had to force him. I didn't think he'd call you, though, he was pretty adamant about not involving you in any of this."

"He didn't call me. I was staying with Bobby Singer."

"Oh, that explains it. He called me not two days ago and I guess I didn't tell him what he wanted to hear so he sent his spy, huh?"

"I'm not Bobby's spy. I'm here for Sam."

"Well, as you can see, I'm here for Sam, too, and he's coming with me. You can go back to Bobby's now."

"No." Dean said firmly. "He's not going anywhere with you."

"We'll see about that," threatened Ray. He went for his gun but Dean was quicker.

"Get out and tell your crew that they better avoid me cause once I get Sammy healed I'm coming after every last one of you."

Ray glared at Dean and heard the safety released. "Get out. I won't say it again. Sam's off limits. Stay away from me, stay away from my brother."

Ray turned and left. Dean turned his attention back to his brother.

During all of this, Sam had been sitting up in bed, petrified. He could hear the two voices arguing but couldn't make out any of the words. Then he felt his bed dip and a body sit beside him. He felt hands gripping his shoulders trying to get him to lie down again. Sam struggled, terrified of who was there. Suddenly a voice broke through the haze. "Sammy! It's me, Dean! Please, Sammy, let me help you!"

Sam froze and tried again to open his eyes. When he was finally able, Dean's face was right in front of him, peering at him anxiously. "Sammy? You with me, kiddo?"

Sam nodded and slumped forward into Dean's chest. Dean's arms immediately came around him holding him close. "It's okay, Sammy," he said his hand wrapping around the back of Sam's neck. "I'm here now. It's okay." Sam shuddered and Dean felt his shirt growing damp with Sam's tears. He tightened his grip and soothed his brother for a long time before finally saying, "okay, kiddo, enough of this chick flick moment. Come on, let me look at you and get you fixed up, okay?"

Reluctantly, Sam let go of his brother and lay back on the pillows. Dean grabbed the first aid kit and began to patch Sam up. He saw nothing that needed stitches, just lots of bruises and those damn needle marks which seemed to stare at him accusingly.

Sam fell asleep during Dean's ministrations and once Dean was done, he pulled a chair up to stay beside his brother. He kept a hand on Sam's chest and flipped channels without really seeing what was on. His cell phone rang suddenly and Dean jumped and answered it quickly before it woke Sam up. "Hello? Hi Bobby. Yeah, I found him. No, he's not alright. They were using him as a weapon. They injected him with demon's blood and were using him to kill demons, that's what I mean! I don't know what I'm going to do. Are you sure? I don't want to...okay, okay, keep your pants on. We'll come soon as Sammy can travel. I'll keep you posted. And Bobby? Thanks."

Sam woke up as Dean was talking with Bobby and was watching Dean. "You don't have to," he said quietly. Dean turned around and smiled when he saw Sam awake.

"Don't have to what, Sammy?" he asked walking back over to the chair and sitting down.

"Stay here and take care of me. I know you've got more important things to do. You can go back to Bobby's. I'll just..."

"No. Sam, I was wrong. I never should have let you go in the first place. We stay together."

"Dean, you don't know the worst yet," Sam warned.

"So tell me."

"I'm," Sam swallowed, suddenly unsure if he could get the words out. "I'm," he began again.

"Sammy, just say it," Dean said.

"I'mLucifer'svessel," Sam said quickly.

Dean leaned forward and looked at Sam. "You're what? I couldn't understand you, Sammy."

Sam looked down and replied in a whisper, "I'm Lucifer's vessel."

Dean stared at Sam and suddenly stood up. Sam knew Dean was leaving. "I'm sorry, Dean. I'm so sorry," Sam whispered.

Dean turned and looked at Sam. Sam's head was down and tears dripped onto the dirty quilt. He realized Sam was still whispering and he strained to hear him. "I don't blame you for leaving. I shouldn't even still be here. You should have let me die in Cold Oak. I bet you regret that now after everything I've done. I'm so sorry, Dean."

Dean felt his heart stop. Sam doesn't really believe that, does he? Does he really think I regret saving him?" Dean moved closer and put his finger under Sam's chin, forcing him to look up. Dean looked into his brother's eyes and could see the regret and sincerity there. "Sammy, listen to me. I don't regret anything I've ever done. Including saving you. You're my brother. But this separation thing? It's done. I'm not doing it anymore. I'm staying here with you until you are well enough to travel and then we're going to Bobby's. Together. Got it?"

Sam looked at Dean. "Why, Dean? You could be rid of me once and for all. Just leave me here."

Dean grabbed Sam's shoulders and shook him firmly. "No, dammit, no. I won't leave you. You're my brother, Sammy. I forgot that for a while until that old curmudgeon on wheels reminded me."

"Curmudgeon?" Sam asked smirking.

"Okay, okay, geek boy, you don't have the monopoly on big words, you know," Dean said smiling.

"We good, Dean?" Sam asked quietly.

"We're good, bitch."

"Jerk," Sam replied smiling.

"Sleep, Sam. I'll be here when you wake up."

Sam nodded and closed his eyes. He didn't see Dean smile but he felt Dean's hand on his chest and fell asleep quickly, feeling safe knowing that Dean would, indeed, be there when he woke up.