A/N: Sarah_Ellie is the best beta reader, just so the world knows.

"If you ever mention Lisa and Ben to me again, I will break your nose."

The dead-pan in Dean's voice was enough to make Sam draw up short, looking at Dean seriously. His brother's profile was a shadowy outline against the bright sunlight outside, and Sam frowned.

"Dean-" he started, only to be cut off again.

"I'm not kidding," Dean gruffed out with a look, and the protest on Sam's lips died with the devastation in his brother's watery eyes.

He was quiet for a moment before he nodded once, and let it be. He pulled his eyes from his brother's trembling hands on the steering wheel and let him drive; the highways and state lines blurring past.

Sam hated it. He hated the hard breaths Dean took every couple dozen miles, his knuckles white on the steering wheel; hated the tremors that didn't stop, their presence crystal, absolute evidence of how hard Dean was fighting to keep it together. Most of all, he hated how hard Dean was shoving it all down before his very eyes, because God forbid his brother accept help from anyone.

He let it be all the way to Bobby's, and he was actually a little bit grateful that their friend hadn't returned yet; still chasing the HP Lovecraft lead.

He let it be until Dean dumped his stuff in the study and stomped into the kitchen, going straight for the whiskey bottle still on the counter.

It was one in the afternoon and he knew that look in his brother's eyes. Knew that look meant that Dean was planning on drinking himself sick, polishing off the bottle in his hand and then probably another after it and Sam just couldn't.

"Dean, enough," Sam snatched the bottle out of Dean's grasp before he could even open it, his brother too lost in his own head to have the reflexes he should. Sam stashed it on top of the refrigerator and well out of reach, and Dean's eyes flashed with anger.

"What the fuck, Sam?" Dean snarled, "Give me the fucking bottle."

"No," Sam said defensively. "I'm not letting you do this to yourself, Dean. Giving yourself alcohol poisoning is not the way to handle this."

"Newsflash, Sam, you are not my goddamn keeper!" Dean growled, hands clenched at his sides angrily.

"No, but I'm your brother and I'm not letting you hurt yourself like this! Come on, man, you know they wouldn't want this for you!"

Sam reeled back as Dean punched him, on the nose, as promised. Sam had expected to feel the snap of a break, but there was none, only a hot gush of blood from his nose and over his mouth as he stumbled back, shoulder hitting the doorframe. Dean had pulled his punch. It was his brother's equivalent of a warning shot.

"I told you, Sam" Dean growled, shaking out his hand as he turned away and Sam pushed off from the door, wiping at the blood under his nose hastily as he stepped between Dean and the study, where he knew he could hunt out another bottle.

"Sam, I swear to god, if you don't get out of my way-"

"Then take another swing, Dean, 'cause I'm not moving," Sam stated plainly, wiping at the blood again as Dean snarled, lunging for him.

Sam didn't even try to hit back. He blocked and parried the worst of Dean's hits, but not once did he strike back. It was probably too much to ask for Dean not to notice.

"Dammit Sam!" Dean bellowed, the two of them locked tight together, Dean's fists digging into Sam's ribs, "If you're going to pick a fight, FIGHT!"

Sam pushed him away with a growl. Dean stumbled slightly before snapping back, trying to swing a right hook that definitely would break Sam's nose this time, but Sam was fast enough to catch his arm. He pulled it tight against his body, locking Dean's other arm the same way, driving them back, back, back until Dean thunked against the fridge, grunting at the impact.

"Get the fuck off me Sam, get off!" Dean snarled, struggling and trying to kick but Sam was too big and his brother too tired and it wasn't long before Dean burned out; panting and wiggling weakly in Sam's grip.

"Dammit, Sammy, what do you want from me?" Dean finally panted tightly, teeth pulled back in anger, and it made Sam's heart hurt.

Sam leaned in, pressing their foreheads together tightly and Dean stilled.

"Sam?" he whispered, voice so soft and unsure.

"You're not Atlas, Dean," Sam husked out, "You don't have to carry the fucking world on your shoulders."


"You just cut two people that you loved out of your life forever, and you're trying to slap an alcohol bandaid over it and hoping it's enough to keep you from falling apart. But it doesn't have to be like that," Sam insisted, grip tightening on Dean's arms. He swallowed, tried to will his brother to understand.

"I love you, Dean," Sam whispered. He felt Dean's rapid heartbeat against his arm gain momentum, "God knows, I do, but I hate when you do this. You can't just keep pressing it all down, man. Just one thing after another after another; it's going to kill you. Just talk to me. Let me help you."

Sam heard the wet sound of Dean swallowing, his brother huffing as he tried to wiggle away again, "Right. Are we done with this chick-flick moment, or what? We have work-"

"Just stop it, Dean!" Sam growled, giving Dean a hard shake that made Dean's breath huff with the force of it, jerking his head back to look at him, "Just cut the crap!"

"What do you want me to say, Sam?" Dean challenged fiercely, "What, you want me to pour my heart out about how I loved her, how I'm gonna miss them? Cry like a bitch about all the crap I should have never had in the first place? Is that going to help us? Is that going to stop Cas from working with Crowley or the monsters from knocking at our door? Huh? 'Cause let me tell you something, Sam, all the crap out there gunning for us doesn't give two shits how I feel, and they sure as hell don't care that letting them go was one of the hardest fucking things I've ever had to do in my life."

"I care," Sam said softly, throat tight and Dean swallowed around a pained noise, his brother jamming his eyes shut against the tears threatening to fall and twisting his face away and Sam couldn't take it. Instead of pinning him down, Sam pulled him in, releasing Dean's arms in favor of wrapping his own around him, hugging him as tight as he could as Dean shook and choked on the sobs fighting to get out of his chest.

"I've got you," Sam whispered, sliding one hand up to cradle the back of Dean's head where it was pressed against his shoulder, "I've got you."

Dean let out a frustrated scream, muffled in the fabric of Sam's shirt as he grabbed fistfuls of Sam's clothes, holding on fiercely as the wound-tight emotions of the past few days erupted as wrecked sounds from his throat.

The house was completely silent, save for Dean's hard sobs and anguished screams. Sam held onto him tightly, quiet and still.

It was a long while before Dean's breathing evened out, his heaving sobs turning into quiet hiccups and finally soft pants, face still pressed into the tear-damp patch of Sam's shirt.

Finally he pulled back, gently detaching himself from Sam with a sniffle. He wiped his eyes and then his nose with the back of his hand before Sam reached over to the sink and ripped off some paper towels from their roll, handing them to Dean wordlessly.

"Thanks," Dean mumbled as he took them, rubbing the coarse paper over his face before blowing his nose, all the while looking studiously at the floor as Sam turned on the faucet, cleaning the blood from under his nose from Dean's first hit.

Dean coughed wetly as he tossed the snotty towels in the trash can. Sam was still in his space, drying his face gingerly and guilt crept under Dean's skin when he took a sideways glance at the bruises that had started to form on the bridge of Sam's nose and on his cheek.

"I got blood on your shirt," Sam commented, plucking at Dean's shoulder where red stains had dripped from his nose, "Sorry."

Dean gave a harsh, humorless laugh, "You wouldn't have been bleeding if I hadn't hit you, so I think we're square."

Sam didn't answer, and Dean risked a glance up at Sam's eyes, his face softened with concern and Dean swallowed, looked back down at the floor.

"Why don't you go take a shower and lay down for a while? I'll cook something, since we have to wait up for Bobby anyway," Sam offered, and Dean nodded mutely, bone-deep weariness setting in now that he had cried himself hoarse.

"Ice your face," Dean mumbled gruffly as he pushed off from the fridge.

Sam gave a small nod that Dean didn't see and watched him go, trudging up the stairs to the bathroom. The sound of the faucets turning came a few moments later, the old pipes groaning quietly.

Sam grabbed a beer from the fridge to put against his face as he started looking through the cabinets, looking for something he could make. He settled on something simple; spaghetti with tomato sauce, and began preparing it.

The sound of the boiling pasta water was distracting enough to keep Sam from hearing the shower turn off upstairs, and the sound of his brother padding quietly down to stand barefoot in the doorway between study and kitchen.

"Want some help?" Sam glanced around to where Dean was leaning against the doorframe, hair still damp and in a fresh t-shirt and soft jeans.

"Nope," Sam said simply, "You should go take a nap, I'll bring you some when it's done."

Dean looked uncomfortable, shifting his weight from foot to foot and looking at the floor at Sam's feet instead of at him.


"Dude, it's spaghetti, I think I can handle it. Seriously, go lay down before you fall over."

Dean glanced at him wearily for a moment, then gave a small nod, turning around to lay down on the sofa.

By the time the food was ready, Dean was asleep, arms folded over his chest and his face pressed against the cushion on the back of the sofa, the late afternoon sun thankfully on the other side of the house instead of coming through the window. Sam stood in the doorway for a few moments, watching Dean's chest rise and fall slowly.

He sighed, moving forward quietly to lay a blanket over his brother's still form. He dared to brush a gentle kiss to Dean's temple as he went, relieved when Dean didn't stir at the contact, and let him be. He'd save a plate for him for later.

A/N: I don't really know how to write fight scenes, so hopefully the one in this wasn't too awful.