Disclaimer: I own nothing. No copyright infringement intended.

Thanks go to SnarkyMuch2 for beta'ing this and for telling me it was worth posting.

Chapter One

Sam held the phone to his ear as he unlocked the motel room door. He didn't understand why Dean wasn't answering his phone, and he was getting worried. As he swung open the door, he heard the sound of a phone ringing. He looked across the room and saw Dean sitting on the edge of the bed; his phone was sitting beside him.

"Dean? What the hell, man? We went to the hospital. You're not answering your phone."

Dean looked at Sam coldly and then got smoothly to his feet. Locking eyes with his brother, he raised the gun and directed it at Sam.

"You should have looked for me when I was in Purgatory."

Sam swallowed thickly. He saw the black goo seeping from Dean's ear, and he winced internally. "Come on, Dean. I know it's not you in there pulling the strings,"

"Shut up!" Dean snapped, and then his eyes flickered to Garth who was in the process of pulling his gun from his belt. "Don't!" Garth dropped his hands, and Dean turned his attention to Sam again. "You never even wanted this life. Always blamed me for pulling you back into it."

"That's not true," Sam said automatically. It wasn't the life he would have chosen for himself, but it was his life now and that was all that mattered.

"Really? 'Cause everything you've ever done since you climbed into my ride has been to deceive me."

"What do you want me to say?" Sam asked. "That I've made mistakes? I've made mistakes, Dean."

"That's not Dean, Sam," Garth said.

He was wrong, though. It was Dean's thoughts the specter was using. He believed these things, even if he wouldn't usually say them.

"Shut up!" Dean's attention flickered to Garth for a second before it settled on Sam once again. "Mistakes? Well, let's go through some of Sammy's greatest hits. Drinking demon blood, check. Being in cahoots with Ruby. Not telling me that you lost your soul. Or how about running around with Samuel for a whole year, letting me think that you were dead while you're doing all kinds of crazy. Those aren't mistakes, Sam. Those are choices!"

"All right." Sam shook his head jerkily. "You said it. We've both played a little fast and loose."

"Yeah, I might have lied, but I never once betrayed you. I never once left you to die. And for what, a girl? You left me to die for a girl!"

Sam snapped his hand out and grabbed Dean's hand that was holding the gun. With Dean distracted, he brought his fist up in a fierce right hook. Dean's head snapped to the side, but he didn't release his grip on the gun. Sam used Dean's momentum to shove him into the glass room divider. The glass smashed and settled on Dean's shoulders.

Dean was winded by the punch to the gut Sam landed on him and then stunned as Sam brought his fist back and punched him in the face again, but he didn't loosen his hold on the gun. He backhanded Sam across the jaw, and while Sam was reeling from that shock, he brought his head forward in a violent head butt. Sam's head snapped forward, and Dean used his confusion to kick him in the gut.

Sam flew across the room and into the couch. As he landed, he cracked his head on the floor. He pushed himself up to lean on the couch and tried to think past the suddenly pounding in his head.

Dean raised the gun, taking aim at his fallen brother.

Garth jumped between them with his arms outstretched. "Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!"

"Garth, don't," Sam moaned.

"No, he won't kill me. His beef isn't with me. You're not gonna shoot me, are you, Dean?"

Dean pointed the gun at Garth. "Move."

"Come on, Dean. You do not want to kill your brother. You—you've been protecting him your whole life. Don't stop now."

"He left me to rot in Purgatory!" Dean snarled.

"All right. All right. Maybe he did. I don't know. I wasn't there. But I'm sure he had his reasons."

"Just like you had your reasons for Benny," Sam said breathlessly.

Garth turned to look at Sam. "Who?"

"Benny has been more of a brother to me this past year than you've ever been! That's right. Cas let me down. You let me down. The only person that hasn't let me down is Benny."

Dean's words hurt Sam, but the emotional pang was eclipsed by the pounding in his head. He felt like he was going to be sick from the pain. His vision swam before his eyes, and he knew he was seconds away from losing consciousness.

"I know you're angry. But, man, you got to fight this thing," Garth implored. "Do not do this! Just let it go. Come on, Dean."

Dean stepped around Garth aimed the gun at his brother. "Goodbye, Sam."

Garth grabbed Dean's arm and swung at him with a right hook that sent Dean's head reeling back. His hand opened and the penny dropped to the floor with a soft tinkle.

Garth jumped on the spot, cradling his newly injured right hand. "Ow! God!"

Dean stumbled on his feet and looked around dazedly. He felt like he was emerging from deep water. He was in the motel, but the last thing he remembered was being in the hospital. Garth was hopping on the spot, clutching his hand, and Sam was on the floor, leaning back against the couch with a bloody nose. What had happened here?

Sam saw Garth bend down to pick up the penny, and he tried to shout a warning, but his words came out slurred.

Garth and Dean's eyes snapped to him in time to see Sam slide gracelessly down the couch onto the floor. His eyes fluttered closed and his head lolled to the side.

"Sam?" Dean stared at his brother in shock. He felt rooted to the spot.

Garth knelt beside Sam. "Sam! Open your eyes, man. Don't do this." When Sam didn't respond, he turned panicked eyes onto Dean. "Call an ambulance!"

Garth's words broke Dean's paralysis; he lurched forward and dropped to his knees beside his brother. "Hey, hey, hey. Sammy. Open your eyes, man." He tapped his face gently.

Garth caught Dean's hand as he reached for Sam again. "Stop that! He's got a head injury!"

Dean snatched his hand back as if he'd been burned. He thought that he could hurt Sam made him sick to his stomach.

"Garth, what happened to him?" he asked.

"Not now," Garth said abruptly. He pulled a phone out of his pocket and dialed 911. "Hello. I need an ambulance to the Jesse James Motel. We have a head injury with unconsciousness."

That done, he dropped his phone onto the floor again and returned his attention to Sam. He pressed fingertips to Sam's neck, breathed a sigh of relief as he felt the steady pounding of life against his fingers. He pinched Sam's earlobe and spoke loudly. "Sam. I want you to open your eyes."

Sam's eyes rolled beneath their lids and then cracked open. "What happen'd?" he asked drowsily.

"Sammy? You okay?" Dean asked.

Sam looked at his brother fearfully. He half expected him to pull the gun out again. But there was no anger in Dean's expression now; he merely looked scared.

Dean saw the fear in Sam's eyes, and he wondered what had happened. He racked his brain for a memory of what had happened, but it was all confused and fragmented.

Sam was uncomfortable on floor. He felt like an invalid with Dean and Garth leaning over him. He tried to sit up, but Garth held him down with a hand on the shoulder.

"You shouldn't move, Sam. An ambulance is coming."

"An ambulance!" Sam shrugged off Garth's restraining arm and pushed himself to a sitting position, leaning back against the couch. He still felt weak and his head was pounding. "I don't need an ambulance." He looked to Dean for support, but Dean was staring down at him, looking horrified; he was no help.

Garth looked at him with a serious expression that looked odd on a face usually given to smiling. "Sam, you had a couple of good cracks to the head, and you were unconscious for two minutes. That's not good."

Sam shook his pounding head and immediately regretted it; it made his vision flicker. "I'm fine, Garth."

Dean and Garth exchanged a concerned look. Though the words had sounded fine to Sam, they had come out garbled and slurred.

"Sammy, I think you should lie down," Dean said in a voice filled with fear. There was something seriously wrong with his brother.

As if Dean's thought had been the trigger, Sam paled and slid slowly sideways.

Dean caught him and supported his in his arms. "Sammy. You okay, buddy?"

"Dean, don't feel so good," Sam slurred. There was ringing in his ears, and his vision was blurred, as if he was looking through frosted glass.

"Let's lay him down," Garth said calmly.

Dean was loathe to release his brother, but Garth sounded like he knew what he was talking about, so he eased Sam down to the floor again, grabbing a blanket from the bed to use as a pillow.

Sam looked up at the white ceiling through misted eyes. The ringing in his ears was growing louder, and the pounding in his head was growing impossibly more painful. He raised a hand to massage his temples, but it felt like it was weighted.

Then, with no outward warning than Dean and Garth could see, Sam's eyes rolled back in his head and he started to convulse on the floor. Dean grabbed for Sam's head, but Garth smacked his hands away. "You'll hurt him!"

Dean watched helplessly as Sam seized. His head buffeted against the blanket Dean had set beneath his head, and his heels rapped the floor as his legs flailed.

Garth was timing the seizure by his watch, silently mouthing the seconds as they progressed. Dean didn't notice this. For him, the room was empty of all but him and his brother. He wanted to touch Sam, to comfort him, but he was scared that he could hurt him. He was forced to watch uselessly as Sam suffered.

"It's okay, Sam. I'm here," he whispered. "You're not alone."

Then, as suddenly as it had started, the convulsions stopped, leaving Sam limp on the floor. Dean reached for him, and this time Garth didn't stop him. He turned Sam's head so he was facing him and threaded a hand through his hair. "You're okay, now, Sammy," he whispered.

Sam drew in a deep breath, and then exhaled in a slow rasp. Dean watched, waiting for the next indrawn breath, but it didn't come.

"Sam!" Dean gasped.

Garth jumped into action. He tilted Sam's head back and lowered his cheek over Sam's mouth, waiting to feel the breath against his skin. It didn't come though. He pressed his fingers to Sam's throat searching for an absent pulse. With a twisting of panic in his gut, he opened Sam's mouth and breathed two deep breaths into his lungs. "Dean, do you know CPR?" he asked. "Dean!"

Dean had been frozen in place, watching his brother, but Garth's voice broken through his paralysis, and he got to his knees beside his brother and began chest compressions. He heard a sick crack sound, and he lurched back. He had hurt his brother.

"It doesn't matter," Garth said harshly, pushing him aside and restarting the chest compressions.

Dean sat back on his heels, numb with shock as Garth performed CPR on his brother. He stared into Sam's blank face as Garth worked to save his life.

In the distance, they heard the sound of the ambulance's siren approaching.

"Dean, open the door," Garth commanded even as he prepared to push air into Sam's unmoving lungs.

Dean scrambled to his feet and flung open the door as the ambulance pulled into the parking lot. "Over here!" he shouted.

Two EMT's jumped from the wagon and jogged across the lot towards the door. Dean stepped back to let them pass, and as soon as they were in, he returned to his brother's side.

"Okay, we've got it," one of the EMT's said, easing Garth aside. "What happened here?"

"He fell and took a nasty blow to the head. He lost consciousness, but awoke and was responding before a seizure hit. He seized for five minutes, and when it passed his heart stopped and he wasn't breathing. We started CPR immediately." Garth spoke clearly and calmly, telling the EMT's all they needed to know.

"You did good," the EMT said.

Dean watched as Sam's shirt was cut open and electrodes were placed on his chest. They were connected to a portable monitor that tracked a flat line where Sam's heartbeat should be.

"We've got asystole! Start a line."

The younger of the EMT's inserted an IV line into be back of Sam's hand, and he injected a clear fluid into it. "Epi in."

Dean watched the heart monitor, searching for a sign of life in Sam, but there was none. The EMT started chest compressions again as his fellow opened a case and unloaded what Dean recognized as a defibrillator. The sight of it stole the strength from Dean's legs, and he wavered on his feet. Garth snapped to his side and led him to the edge of the bed. Dean sank down onto the lumpy mattress, keeping his eyes fixed on his brother.


A button on the defibrillator was pressed and Sam's back arched upwards as electricity passed through him. Everyone looked to the heart monitor, hoping for a sign of movement, but there was none.

"Charge again!" the older EMT said. "Clear!"

Sam's back arched from the bed again, and Dean winced. As Sam's back thumped down to the floor again, there was beeping from the heart monitor. Where there had been nothing, there was now a steady rise and fall as Sam's heartbeat was recorded.

"We've got him."

Dean felt the heavy weight that had been constricting his chest ease as the words penetrated him. They had Sam back. He wasn't gone. He had come too damn close though.

The EMT's worked over Sam, snapping a brace around his neck, and loading him onto a gurney.

"We've got to get him to the hospital," the younger EMT said. "Are you coming with him?"

"You go," Garth said, clapping Dean on the shoulder. "I'll follow in the car."

Dean looked at Garth and words failed him. There was so much that needed to be said, but he couldn't find the words.

"It's okay," Garth said. "You take care of your brother. I'll catch you later."

Dean followed the gurney out to the ambulance and climbed in, keeping his eyes fixed on Sam's face. He was scared if he looked away, Sam's heart would fail again.

~ TBC ~