Home Is Where The Heart Is

Summary: The Winchester brothers once again solved the case and rescued the girl - but did it come without a price? Hurt!Sam, Guilty!/Protective!Dean. Tag to 1x11.

Author's note: This story is dedicated to dear Valerie from Canada (also known as hotshow on this site) who is the one that came up with the idea for it. I hope it lives up to your expectations, honey. –Elisa.

Dean: "Hey, I'm taking off. I will leave your ass, you hear me?"

Sam: "That's what I want you to do."

- Supernatural 1x11 – "Scarecrow".

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"You done yet?" Dean shouted through the bathroom door and knocked on the wooden material a couple of times.

"Just a minute!" Sam shouted in return, studying the left side of his chest in the mirror with a frown on his face.

The run-in with the scarecrow in Indiana a couple of days earlier hadn't happened as smoothly and pain free as Sam had hoped. After the youngest brother had found Dean and Emily tied up in the woods, he had cut them loose and Dean had told him to look out for the scarecrow that could come alive at any second.

"What scarecrow?" Sam had asked and had looked confused around, not seeing a scarecrow anywhere – dead or alive.

The brothers and Emily had then fled from the place while they kept looking around to see if the scarecrow was in sight.

"Is it gone?" Emily had asked.

"For now, I think." Dean had answered while scanning the area with his eyes. "But we still have to get rid of that scarecrow once and for all."

"No need to do it now though. We can find the tree tomorrow." Sam had said, not wanting to stay in the dark forest any longer than what was necessary.

"Why? You need to be somewhere?" Dean had asked with irritation in his voice and Sam figured his big brother was still pretty mad at him for leaving earlier.

"No, I just.." Sam started when Emily had suddenly screamed, snapping the brothers' attention away from each other to look for the source of danger.

"What?" Dean asked.

"There! It was right there!" Emily yelled and pointed into the darkness.

"What? The scarecrow?" Dean asked and Emily nodded while tears of panic welled up in her eyes.

"I swear it was right over there!" Emily cried.

"It's alright, I believe you." Dean soothed while continuing to scan the area with his eyes. "Sam?"

"Not seeing it anywhere." Sam said, inspecting the rows of dark trees as well. "Do you think that maybe…"

The younger brother was interrupted in the middle of his sentence when his shoulders were grabbed from behind and before he could as much as make a sound, he was suddenly airborne.

"Sam!" Dean shouted.

Sam got a short glimpse of the scarecrow who had flung him away, before his body hit the surface of a tree – knocking the air right out of him while he fell into a heap on the ground. Sam gasped for air and clutched the left side of his chest that had flared with pain after the impact with the tree, a small trickle of blood running down his forehead.

"Sam! Sam!" Dean called as he closed the gap between him and his brother and crouched down beside Sam before putting a hand on his shoulder. "Geez, you okay? Can you stand?"

The pain was still bad but Sam nodded nonetheless, groaned and winced when Dean pulled him back on his feet.

"We gotta move." Dean told his brother, dragging one of Sam's arms around his shoulders as he started leading them forward. "Before the scarecrow returns."

The brothers and Emily had continued their escape through the forest but had run right into a bunch of armed townspeople who had surrounded them. Things had started to look very dark until the scarecrow had showed up out of nowhere, killing Emily's uncle in the process and attacking the aunt as well. The rest of the townspeople had run away as the scarecrow had dragged the aunt and uncle with him – once again leaving Dean, Sam and Emily on their own. They'd succeeded in getting out of the woods without running into the scarecrow again and the following day they'd returned, had burned the tree and gotten rid of the scarecrow once and for all. The cut Sam had received on his forehead had been taken care of and had luckily not required any stitches – his chest had hurt but there hadn't even been any visible bruising so Sam had figured he had probably bruised a few ribs and that the pain would probably disappear within a few days… But it hadn't.

"Sam!" Dean called again and knocked on the bathroom door once more. "Today!"

"Alright!" Sam shouted and let his shirt fall back down. There still weren't any visible bruises on his body and even though the pain was still evident, Sam couldn't bring himself to tell Dean about it. The older brother had been pretty moody lately, and Sam didn't really dare to start complaining about a little pain. Besides, the pain would disappear on its own eventually.. right?

Sam unlocked the door, opened it up and looked at his older brother's annoyed expression as he walked out of the bathroom.

"What the hell took you so long?" Dean complained and pushed himself past Sam to go to the bathroom.

"I just.." Sam started but didn't get further than that before Dean had shut the door closed with a loud smack.

Sam stared at the closed door for a couple of seconds with furrowed brows. Despite the fact that Dean had seemed to have forgiven Sam for leaving before they'd left Indiana, he had still been acting pissed off ever since then and it was really starting to get on Sam's nerves. He had apologized for leaving and Dean had accepted the apology without further ado, so what the hell was his problem?

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Dean's attitude didn't change over the next couple of days. He had ignored Sam whenever the younger brother had tried to start a conversation, he'd left alone to grab a beer at the bars they passed by – making it quite clear that Sam's company wasn't appreciated – and the only sounds to be heard on the road were the rumble of the Impala's engine and the tunes from the various classic rock songs that blasted out of the loudspeakers.

In the end, Sam couldn't stand the silent-treatment any longer. He had been feeling a bit under the weather for a couple of days – been feeling hot, out of breath, the pain in the left side of his chest still evident - and the tension between him and his older brother really didn't make him feel any better. The brothers had just checked into a motel room in a town in Maryland. Dean had entered the room first and as soon as Sam was inside as well, the younger Winchester brother slammed the door shut behind him. Dean twirled around and faced his brother - annoyance written all over his face while Sam glared in return.

"What the hell is your problem?" Dean demanded.

"What the hell is my problem?" Sam asked, pointing at himself with an incredulous look on his face. "What the hell is your problem? I'm not the one who's been pissed off ever since Indiana!"

"Oh, you gotta be kidding me." Dean said and shook his head while laughing humorlessly.

"Just tell me what the problem is, Dean." Sam said in a calmer tone. "Are you still pissed at me for walking away in Indiana?"

"We're not having this conversation." Dean said with a shake of his head and turned around to walk towards the bathroom but Sam quickly cut off his way; putting a hand on Dean's shoulder to hold him back.

"Is that why?" He demanded to know. "Because I left back in Indiana?"

Dean didn't say anything and Sam sighed.

"Dean.." He started.

"Yeah, I'm mad at you for leaving!" Dean then said, cutting Sam off and roughly brushing the younger brother's hand off him.

"But I did apologize." Sam said.

"And I'm sick of your apologizes! You're always walking away!" Dean shouted with anger written all over his face. "You turn your back on your family over and over, Sam – and I'm sick of it!"

"Dean.." Sam started.

"Flagstaff, Stanford." Dean rattled off. "And now this. It's like whenever I turn my back for a second, you run away! And honestly? Now I'm just waiting for you to do it again!"

Sam opened his mouth to protest but Dean cut him off once more.

"You know, I used to believe that the reason you ran away was to get away from dad." Dean yelled. "I never once believed that you would run away from me too. Until now."

Sam looked at Dean while the words his big brother had spoken made his stomach knot. Did Dean honestly believe that Sam had left to get away from him? From the one person that mattered more to him than anyone else?

"Yeah, that's what I thought." Dean said, taking Sam's silence as a confirmation of his suspicions and then tried to get past his younger brother.

"No Dean, that's not what I.." Sam began but as he wanted to stop Dean from moving by him once again, Dean surprised him by suddenly giving the youngest Winchester brother a hard shove in the chest.

Pain immediately spiked in his chest and Sam collapsed to the floor and gasped loudly while clutching his chest in a firm grasp. It felt like someone was tugging violently at his chest, making Sam gasp for breath while the pain continued to consume him.

"Sam?" Dean asked with confusion – the anger quickly replaced by worry as he watched his younger brother struggling to take a breath. "Sam, what.."

Dean crouched down next to Sam and reached a hand out to touch his brother but Sam flinched away.

"Don't.. touch me." Sam gasped, beads of sweat trickling out on his forehead as he kept clutching at his chest.

Dean slowly pulled his hand back though his instincts told him otherwise. But he had been the one to push his brother in a moment of anger – to push Sam who was now hurting because of it and if Sam didn't want Dean to touch him, the older brother really couldn't blame the kid for it.

"Are you.." Dean started.

"I'm fine!" Sam exclaimed and, to prove his point, he began to push himself up from the floor. Sam almost made it back on his feet but then his face turned pale and Dean barely managed to catch his younger brother under the armpits before Sam face-planted.

"Whoa! Sam!" Dean exclaimed and groaned as he dragged Sam the short distance to one of the motel beds before lowering him down to sit on the edge of it. "What's going on?"

Sam – still clutching at his chest – quickly realized that he couldn't keep hiding the truth for Dean and, despite the tension that had been between the two of them, the pain in the chest was scaring him and he really needed his big brother right now.

"My.. chest." Sam said, looking up at Dean when the older brother placed a soothing hand on his shoulder.

"What about it, Sam?" Dean demanded to know. "It hurts?"

Sam nodded and watched as Dean crouched down in front of him - reaching for Sam's shirt.

"Has been doing so since Indiana." Sam admitted in a low voice and Dean snapped his head up right away.

"What?" Dean asked. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"You were mad at me." Sam said, still in a low voice, and avoided eye contact with Dean. "And besides, I didn't think it was anything I couldn't handle; Thought I'd just bruised some ribs when the scarecrow threw me into a tree but it feels different somehow."

"Dammit, Sammy." Dean said before prying Sam's hand away from his chest and lifted up his brother's shirt to get a look at the damage, frowning when there were no visible signs of trauma.

Dean started probing Sam's chest and when he reached the left side, Sam hissed and flinched away; his face turning multiple shades of green.

"Easy, easy." Dean said and held his hands up. "I'm not gonna do that again, alright?"

Sam nodded, closed his eyes and swallowed hard to keep himself from throwing up.

"I'm pretty sure I felt a broken rib." Dean revealed.

The brothers had dealt with a lot of broken ribs in their lives and Sam normally handled the pain better than most people would have done. But this time was different. Dean had shoved him in the chest and that had to have been painful with a broken rib. Still, Sam said that it felt different somehow and Dean now also noticed how awful his younger brother looked. Sam was pale but his cheeks were flushed which probably meant that he had a fever. Was something more serious going on than a broken rib? And if so, why hadn't Dean noticed sooner that his baby brother wasn't doing well?

"You say you've been hurting since Indiana?" Dean asked, feeling guilt building up inside of him.

"Yeah." Sam admitted.

Dean was about to ask his brother another question when Sam suddenly started coughing and covered his mouth with a hand. Dean's eyes widened when Sam's hand returned from his mouth covered in crimson.

"Dean." Sam said with panic clearly evident in his voice and looked at Dean with wide eyes as well.

"I'm taking you to the hospital." Dean said, got up from his crouching position in front of Sam and started moving Sam's arm around his shoulders to help him up.

"No hospital." Sam begged. He had always hated being examined by strangers, and the numerous hospital visits during the years had left him with more than enough experience in that area.

"Sam, you just coughed up blood." Dean said as he led Sam towards the door. "I'm not taking any chances here, alright?"

"But Dean.." Sam started when the older brother cut him off.

"I promise you it's gonna be fine, Sammy." Dean said and opened up the passenger side door of the Impala so that Sam could get inside and then rushed around to the other side to slide behind the wheel.

Sam was hunched over in the seat when Dean started the engine, once again clutching at his chest, and Dean's worry didn't get any less profound.

"Hey." Dean said, reaching out an arm to gently push Sam back to rest against the seat instead of being hunched over. "You holding up?"

Sam nodded but Dean needed a little more than that.

"Sam?" Dean asked while steering the Impala out of the motel parking lot.

"I'm good." Sam said even as he looked far from being okay.

"Just hang in there, alright?" Dean said. "We'll get you fixed up in no time."

"Okay." Sam said, clenching his eyes shut and breathing deeply through his nose to get through the pain.

Dean glanced at his brother for a moment before looking for any signs leading to a hospital – increasing the speed of the car while doing so.

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