A Late Night Confession

Summary: 1-shot. Sick from the trials and getting worse, Sam wakes up one night and decides to seek out his sleeping brother to confess a truth that he's been hiding from Dean since Dean's return from Purgatory. Only the confession doesn't quite as Sam planned. *Sick/angsty/Hurt!Sam & Comforting/concerned/big brother!Dean* Slight spoilers from 08x20 Pac-Man Fever*

Warnings/Spoilers: Warning for language of course, mild description of violence. Nothing too major. It also contains spoilers from the past few episodes including mild ones for 08x20 Pac-Man Fever.

Tags: Slightly tagged to 08x20 Pac-Man Fever.

Disclaimer: I don't own them. This is just for fun of both writer and readers.

Author Note: There are several reasons Sam could give for giving up hunting or not looking for his brother. The real writers offered one, of which this writer says 'blah' to. I've covered one scenario in another story but this is another possible reason. Read and I hope you enjoy!


"Damn, damn, damn."

Sam Winchester knew he looked and felt like crap but this latest round had all but drained him and the tiniest bit of him was beginning to wonder every time he laid down to try to rest if he'd even wake up.

After his Dean shocked him with a full emotionally driven hug rather than the stern lecture and speech that Sam had been expecting, he'd tried his best to help his brother in the search for their missing Prophet but after an hour and a half of bouncing between bloody coughing to nearly falling asleep at his laptop Dean had finally sent him to his room.

If he hadn't felt so lousy Sam knew he probably would've gone pure bitch face at the thought of being sent to his room when he was nearly thirty years old but just that one simple 'don't you even think about it' look from Dean had him going to his room in their new home.

The Men of Letters base in Kansas was cool in Sam's opinion and if he felt better most of the time he'd admit that the whole place would be a dream come true in his heart of hearts.

Between the huge selection of research books, files, boxes of artifacts that Sam is fairly certain should only exist on the History Channel, to the underground shooting range ( he wasn't really thrilled with that at the moment) to learning that it was basically a dead zone within a few miles the whole thing was awesome for hunters.

It was true that at first he was worried that his brother would never come out of the huge shower room with what appeared to be an endless amount of really, really hot water but what still really bothered Sam, though he'd never willingly admit it to Dean, was that he still hadn't adjusted to having his own room.

For years, once he'd gotten to the age where it finally became an issue, all he'd wished for was to have a room that he didn't have to share with his older brother. Of course sharing a room was better than camping in the Impala when on the road with their Dad or they didn't have the money for a room.

He'd a roommate briefly when he went to Stanford, then he moved in with Jessica and then he was back on the road with Dean and the sharing motel rooms began again.

Sam could count the number of times he'd had a room to himself on one hand and none of those times were ones he particularly cared to remember.

When he'd run away as a kid, while it had been brief and eventually had a not so good outcome, had been the start of his understanding that while being on his own or having a room of his own wasn't all it was all cracked up to be.

The other times that Sam could recall his time being alone in a motel room included the time his brother had been hurt by that damn Rawhead (well, it wasn't all the monster's fault since Dean had been the one to use the taser while standing in water) or during that whole Mystery Spot mess in which his brother had been killed so many times by a so-called well-meaning Trickster via Archangel.

The biggest time and the one that had changed Sam's opinion on having his own room would have been the four months his time that Dean had been trapped in Hell and Sam was on his own. Even with Ruby's occasional company, it still hadn't felt right for Sam who still had booked rooms with two queen beds.

Even during all the fights, the lies or strain between them, they'd shared a room. Except for the time more recently that Sam's mouth had opened a bit too much about agreeing with Dean when he'd said Sam was grown and didn't need his big brother looking out for him as much.

Sam could still vividly recall that mess since he'd still been in deep shock and denial over that job where he'd been ruffied by his so-called Superfan, Becky.

He and Dean had been stressed as it were and he'd agreed with him by saying that Dean could spend more time looking after himself. A huge mistake and Sam had known it the second the words were out of his mouth but it was too late.

That night when they'd stopped Dean had booked two rooms and Sam had been lost. He'd originally blamed it on still feeling off by what Becky had done and from being sick but he hadn't quite been able to find a way to take back what he'd said and as it turned out he hadn't had to.

He didn't remember getting sick or anything that happened for the next three days or so but when he came out of the fever his older brother was there and that was, up until the time Dean was lost to Purgatory, that they hadn't shared a room until getting here.

Dean's room was as close to his pride and joy as the Impala was and Sam knew that his brother seemed to like having a room of his own, something that he hadn't had since he'd been four years old.

His messy, unorganized brother had turned into a nesting, nearly domesticated freak in this place who snarled at Sam if he even dropped a gum wrapper in his room.

So while Dean enjoyed his bedroom with the weapons on the wall, the desk with a picture of their Mom, and of course the memory foam mattress, Sam was not quite as thrilled with his room.

Too weak to make it to the shower room when the nausea had hit on top of thirty minutes of straight coughing, Sam spent the next two hours on the floor next to his more common queen size bed clinging to a trashcan while wishing this would all just stop.

He'd eyed the door a couple times, a little surprised that Dean hadn't stuck his head in since it was rare for his brother to sleep through a coughing fit that lasted longer than fifteen minutes…though Sam supposed Dean was probably tired after that job with the new kind of Djinn and putting up with Charlie.

Sam knew his brother hadn't been happy with his decision to ignore his attempts at benching Sam but at the time Sam had been determined to show Dean that even though the two trials had taken a toll and were seriously affecting him that he could still be a help.

When Charlie, a cute overly helpful girl in Sam's honest opinion, managed to hit that damn paper target with more accuracy than he had Sam had been even more determined to get back in the field.

While he knew Dean would never allow the helpful hacker to involve herself very often Sam was firm that he was not going to feel replaced again. He'd suffered that with Benny but to feel replaced by Charlie? No, uh-huh, that wasn't happening even if he had to crawl after the damn monster.

Still coughing up blood but relieved he'd stopped throwing up what little was on his stomach, Sam laid his head back to rest when the pain began again and it took all he had not to scream.

He'd taken on the trials to close Hell for a number of reasons. The main two being he wanted to prove to both his brother and himself that he could do it and because he'd be damned if he'd let Dean sacrifice anything again.

Dean had gone to Hell in the first place to save Sam and that had been a deep guilt that to this day Sam had yet to forgive himself for.

As he tried to ignore the pain or push it aside, Sam silently wondered how something so simple could have turned so wrong.

He'd given Dean the speech that he could do it. That he could do the trials and they'd both come out the other side alive but after the pain and weakness started shortly after killing the Hellhound and now with these more severe symptoms hitting after completing the second one, Sam was seriously doubting if he'd even be able to finish the third.

The bloody coughs, the weakness, being tired to the point where he couldn't focus weren't so bad even though it scared him. It was the throwing up, being unable to stand or even aim a damn pistol, the pain shooting through his whole body until he wanted to curl up or the even worse things that now told the younger Winchester that he had seriously miscalculated the effects the trials would have and if he'd survive them.

Sam was stupid by any means. He knew something serious was wrong with him. He could feel it deep inside him and with every lingering vivid nightmare or night like this where he'd wake up alone to cope with this crap his fears got worse.

There was no doubt that he could go to his brother's room and if he woke Dean up his brother wouldn't bitch, well he'd make a good show of it but Sam could always tell when Dean was fake bitching or seriously pissed.

He knew he could go do that and would as soon as he could find the strength in his legs to pull himself up from the floor but it was these increasing thoughts of not surviving the last trial or what may come after that worried Sam.

Not for his own life since he'd been dead, dropped in a Cage with two warring vengeful Archangels, ran around without a soul and nearly went mad. Dying while trying to either close the gates of Hell for good or protecting the brother he still looked up to wasn't too much of an issue, unless he thought on it too long.

No, Sam was more worried about Dean's reaction if something bad happened to him that his brother couldn't find a way to fix.

Dean's promise to take care of him had always been what drove him and Sam had seen the extreme his brother would go to for him…which was another reason Sam hadn't yet worked up the guts to reveal to his brother the real reason he stopped hunting while Dean was trapped in Purgatory.

Hissing as the muscles in his right arm that always seemed to get the worst of the trials burned like fire when he moved it to pull up the leg of his sleep sweats, Sam's hazel eyes grew shadowed when they looked at the fine lined mark on his upper thigh.

It would've looked like an ordinary tattoo to anyone else and that might be what he could've passed it off as to his brother…unless Dean got a good look at it and recognized it from their father's journal.

That mark as well as the one he'd managed to keep hidden on his lower back were all that now remained of the events three months after losing Dean and Castiel to Purgatory. They were all that Sam had as a bitter reminder of why he'd dropped off the hunting grid, stopped looking for a way to save his older brother and literally tried to hide.

Clenching his fist as memories he didn't want filtered back, Sam could still feel the pain he gone through those long few days and the promise he knew had been very real.

He'd been hunting things that would scare a normal person since he'd been a kid but this attack had left him raw and being alone, it had finally made him do the one thing he'd sworn never to do…he ran and then just tried to make Dean believe the lame lie he'd offered when pushed for a reason why he never looked for him.

The hurt and pain in his brother's eyes at the thought of Sam not looking for him, not even trying to find him had almost been as bad as what he suffered from the actual act but in Sam's mind he was protecting both of them because if he knew one thing it was how his usually protective big brother would react to learning the truth behind Sam's 'retirement'.

"Shit," he hissed again, feeling like passing out when another look at his thigh made Sam suddenly decide on something he'd been putting off since the night after his brother returned.

He'd been putting off telling Dean because (a) they were fighting so much over Sam giving up hunting and then Dean's friendship with Benny, (b) he didn't want his brother to get pissed off to the point that he'd go so something stupid, and (c) he wasn't ready to see the disappointment on Dean's face when he realized his little brother was a coward that ran from normal humans.

However, despite his fear and worry of Dean's opinions now that he was getting worse and he wasn't sure how things were going to end up Sam knew he needed to tell his brother the truth.

He'd promised Dean that he wouldn't lie about how he was feeling and while he'd fudged that a little since he hadn't yet told his manic, overly hyper protective sibling about how often his eyes would dim or the ever constant supply of nightmares that made Sam relieve some of the worst moments of his life or now the nausea and pain, he knew he needed to finally come clean about this.

Excepting Dean's anger and disappointment was just something that Sam had gotten used to over the last few years and while he wished he didn't have to bring it back he knew Dean would be far angrier if he learned on his own or worse in Sam's mind if his brother were to be attacked for something that was Sam's fault.

Pushing himself up by using his bed as leverage, Sam swore under his breath when his legs didn't seem to want to support him.

Finally able to stand, it took him another second or two to make sure he wasn't going to pitch forward, pass out, or be sick again before he decided it was safe enough to try to make it to Dean's room which was only two rooms away.

It seemed to take forever to Sam to finally knock lightly on Dean's door then when he didn't hear a reply, which he didn't expect to since even he could hardly hear his own voice right then, he opened the door to peek in.

Dean's room, unlike Sam's own for once, was neat which still both amused and confused the younger man since for as long as he could remember their Dad had always been yelling at Dean for not picking stuff up and Sam had bitched more than once about his brother's messy habits.

Stepping in, it took Sam's eyes a moment to focus in the near darkness and briefly wondered why his sound asleep brother would have left the low desk lamp on across the room since Dean had always bitched about Sam leaving a light on while he tried to sleep.

"Dean? You awake?" Sam asked quietly, nudging the queen size memory foam bed with a shaking knee before feeling his head get dizzy a second before his legs began to buckle and he just let himself slide to the floor beside his brother's bed rather than wake Dean up in a hurry by falling on top of him. 'Yeah, don't think he'd appreciate that,' he thought silently then gritted his teeth.

Pulling his knees up close to his chest like he would as a child when fighting either nightmares or fright, Sam pushed past the pain or tried to as he managed a glance over his shoulder.

In the climate controlled base, Dean was back to sleeping in a T-shirt and his sleep shorts and as he'd seen his brother do on multiple occasions was fast asleep on his stomach with his hand under the pillow which left Sam to wonder if his brother still kept either his pistol or his knife under it for fast grabbing.

Sam had always envied Dean's ability to sleep anywhere at anytime. He especially wished he could do that now but even when sleep came it wasn't restful and often left Sam wishing he'd stayed awake.

Now he wished for the guts to reach up and shake his softly snoring brother awake so he could get off his chest what he needed to before the end came and Sam was left with just another regret.

Lifting a shaking hand, Sam let it drop but also let his head lean back on the mattress so he could close his eyes with a sigh. "Hey Dean, I have something to say that I probably should've told you earlier, like back when you first got out of Purgatory but I…didn't have the guts."

Moving his head so he didn't fall to sleep until he was done, Sam chose to do what he'd come in here to do…even if his brother was sleeping and wouldn't hear him.

Sam recalled other times growing up that he'd have to tell his brother something but had done it while he'd been asleep. Dean never heard it, never heard anything that Sam revealed but it gave Sam some satisfaction and knew this would be better since he could tell his brother the truth and Dean wouldn't feel the need to go rip someone's lungs out.

Figuring that Dean must have been exhausted to still be sleeping this soundly when normally a single change in the room and his brother would be awake or at least more alert but as Sam looked again he saw that the only change was that Dean had shifted enough to shove the blanket more to the edge as if it had annoyed him.

"Jerk," Sam mumbled, deciding since his brother seemed so determined to knock the blanket from the bed then he'd use it since he hadn't thought to drag his or grab his flannel and despite having a fever almost constantly now he was freezing.

Wrapping the still warm blanket around himself gave Sam a similar sense of security as Dean's old leather jacket had but he hadn't seen his brother wear that since Stull, since before Lucifer in Sam's body, had nearly beat Dean to death.

Pushing that thought aside, Sam made himself focus on what he needed to get out before he got sick again or passed out since it would be hard to explain to his brother why he woke up with his brother passed out on his floor. 'Yeah, that wouldn't be too awkward,' Sam thought, coughing and almost certain that sound would wake Dean only to scowl a little when it didn't. "Geez, dude, I could be dying here.

"Anyway, in my duffel there's a little journal that I kept during the time you were gone…this time that pretty much has all of this in it but…I promised no more secrets so here goes," surprised at how much he seemed to be shaking despite knowing his brother was sound asleep, Sam stared at his hands and if he let his mind wander he could still see and feel the heavy straps and burning ropes.

"Y'know when I told you that I hadn't looked for you that time you were in Purgatory? How I quit hunting, moved to Texas, hit a dog and met Amelia? I…kind of…lied," Sam bit his lip, forgetting how hard it was for him to admit lying to his older brother.

Lying to their father always seemed to come easier for Sam but lying to Dean just never worked. His brother could always seem to tell when Sam was lying or hiding something, even now he still couldn't look at Dean and lie which is why he'd been shocked when his brother had believed his story about walking away from hunting, from him and everything he'd been taught.

"I mean, I didn't lie about hitting a dog and meeting Amelia cause I did do those things. I…lied about why I quit hunting. I lied about not looking for you. I did look for you Dean. I looked and tried for three months to find you or find a way into Purgatory but I couldn't…and then…then they happened," Sam clenched his weakening right hand while keeping his other bunched in the blanket.

Stilling when he heard the mattress made a sound when his restless brother seemed to suddenly shift as if getting more comfortable but didn't stop until he was laying more toward the edge of the bed…near where Sam sat giving his quiet confession.

"I called people, I called in favors from people Dad knew, hell from people Dad hated if I thought they might have a clue to how to break into Purgatory. Sure, more than a few of them weren't real friendly and I took more than a few fists or knife cuts when my past came into play but I…handled it…mostly," he decided that he didn't want to dwell on just how many of those kinds of meetings he had since Sam was aware that too many hunters had heard the rumors of his demon blood addiction and worse and still believed he was among those things that needed killed.

"I'd picked up rumors about a certain set of woods in Maine that may hold a way into Purgatory if the right spell was known so I was trying to find someone with more lore on the subject than Garth or Jefferson had when I got a tip, well Nina…Dean, you really need to stop having flings with people we meet cause she was still pissed off at you, anyway Nina got word of a guy up in Rhode Island who had all kinds of books and lore so I headed up there and this is the part if you were awake that you'd be growling.

"The guy had an incredible library of lore and books on stuff that we have never even heard of before…though I think we top that now since finding this place. He seemed a little…off to me but I ignored it as the fact that I was having nightmares, I wanted you and everyday it felt like I was failing you again then came the night that he called me over to his house with news of a possible break in the case and I…forgot every damn thing you taught me."

Sam's hand clenched into a tighter fist as he thought back while absently pulling the leg of his sweatpants up to gaze at the mark again and still could see it as the raw and bloody wound that it had been when his voice changed to take a slightly bitter tone. "Did you know that Mom had two uncles? The one Dad met when we were little and another one, Samuel's youngest brother. Yeah, I didn't either…until I got jumped when I got to Ezra's place.

"Ezra Campbell was Gwen's father. There is a lot more to the Campbell family than the little bit that we saw and still none of it very good or at least not good as far as we're concerned," Sam seemed to pause as if trying to gather his thoughts without realizing how bad he'd started to shake again until a half-snore/half grunt was heard and a restless hand was tossed off the bed to land on the top of his head.

"Really?" Sam knocked the hand off then rolled his eyes when his brother's hand still managed to mess his already messy hair up before landing on his shoulder but he chose to leave it there since even asleep the support of Dean's hand would help get him through the next part of his tale.

"I fought the first attack, Dean. Because while Campbells might've been hunting on the Mayflower I'd been taught to fight and fight dirty by the greatest hunter I knew: you. I think I'd almost gotten clear and had touched the door when the damn taser hit me. I went down hard then felt the needle go in my neck and just like those damn memories I don't want to have of my early time with Samuel…I couldn't fight, I couldn't move…I couldn't do a damn thing.

"You thought Samuel was bad? Hell, he was mellow compared to Ezra and his people. I…can't recall all of it except I know I drifted in and out but was always drugged. They weren't interested in doing crap like what Samuel let the others do to me right after I got out, before the soulless part took full control. They were more methodical, more clinical in what they did.

"He said that his family knew all about the deal Mom made to save Dad the night Samuel originally died, they considered finding Mom and Dad and dealing with things then but chose to wait to see what happened and when Mom died it was decided it best for Dad to die so they could take us.

"The family wanted to see if we were damaged goods from being Winchesters since it'd been plain from the start that Dad hadn't been brought up like he should've been or if they'd just kill us…they knew about the blood, about your trip back to the past and we were pariahs on that side of the family from the goddamn start," Sam closed his eyes, hating the feelings this brought back to him and wishing his brother was awake cause even the occasional remark or snarl would've made him feel better.

The hand that had been laying on his shoulder seemed to move as if Dean's sleep was as restless as Sam felt right then and he felt it move to be more toward the back of his neck but didn't pay it much more attention as he took a shaky breath.

"From what I picked up since they were big on talking even while burning or cutting me Campbells and the Winchester line were not great friends so even if Dad had been raised with Henry his relationship with Mom would've caused one helluva an issue but I guess it was so much more that made them hate us," he let his eyes close and the sudden pounding of his own heart in his ears made him missing the softer sound of grinding teeth.

"Ezra's main reason beside all the usual crap was he blames us for Mom's 'failure' since they'd planned on her marrying someone 'proper' to carry on the Campbell name. Then he blames us for both of his brothers dying, of course he said we killed Samuel twice, then of course Gwen and basically any Winchester should be killed so since I was handy…they decided to make an example out of me.

"They couldn't figure out what Samuel used to keep me under control or however that was done and Gwen's sister decided it'd be more fun to just torture me since they knew you couldn't save me this time. Spent a week strapped to a table in the basement of this house that was like a full on panic room," looking back at his brother's face, Sam brushed the wetness he was surprised to feel from his face and relieved that his brother couldn't see the tears.

"Ezra was cold, never raised his voice once even when he was furious and I think that made him all the more scary. Bragged that he wanted Samuel to kill you before but that he wouldn't because I'd gotten too out of control and they needed you but after he'd gotten what was needed from Crowley that's they'd kill both of us.

"He was always saying that if you ever came back that he'd take special pleasure in killing you and that's when I tried to fight the drugs more cause while I really didn't care of I died or what they did since hell, I know it's my fault Mom died, I wasn't gonna let them hurt you," blowing out a breath, Sam shook his head. "Moira, that's Gwen's sister, cut the mark that's on my thigh and God, that hurt even worse than getting the anti-possession tattoo had.

"Before that they'd cut, or beat or burn a little but never deep enough that the wounds wouldn't heal without scars but she said that I wasn't walking from this without being marked for later…use," gritting his teeth against the memory of the feel of the white hot scalpel cutting into his thigh for two days so it would have the correct depth and design wanted, Sam letting his head drop until his forehead rested on his drawn up knees.

"After she cut it, they dumped salt and whiskey on it for an extra dose of pain before…using something else on my back. I don't know what's on it cause I only seen the small branding iron a second before Ezra put some damn kind of…hood on me and that's when they eased the drugs up enough that I could try to fight.

"I think that's what they wanted when they burned my back. To see me fight and hear the screams that I couldn't stop and when they were done finally, Ezra caught me loose cause he knew I couldn't fight them by that point and made certain I understood that they were 'letting' me live because it amused them to see how far a Winchester could fall but that at any time they could get me again and do so much worse."

Oblivious to the tears staining his fevered cheeks, Sam kept his head down with his eyes shut tight to try to avoid the bitter memories and shame brought back by this confession and missed the way the limp hand that had been just laying lighting against his neck now shifted to lay fully over the back of his neck while the arm that was still on the bed seemed to be resisting the urge to move by the way its muscles were tensing.

"Ezra delivered the final beating since not all the drugs had worn off and he had five of his hunters holding me. He bragged that no matter where I went or what I did that he could find me and if I wanted a chance to save myself and you, wherever you were, that I'd run far and fast. That he'd make sure every hunter knew exactly what John Winchester raised and that he had hunters who could do a lot worse than even what I'd seen in the Cage or what you seen in Hell.

"I don't remember anything after that until I woke up in a hospital someone. I…wanted to find you. I just wanted to get you back but…I got scared, De'n. I got scared of being alone, of facing that again, of dealing with the damn hunters again and…I ran," Sam's voice broke as he finally admitted what he'd been dreading to face, the reason he'd stopped hunting or looking for his brother.

"I got out of that hospital as fast as I could, I got back to the Impala which…I will never tell you what they did to her, and just drove. I hated myself, I knew I was a damn coward and I knew you'd be ashamed of me but I just couldn't do it again," the sick, fevered young hunter could feel the pain coming on again but still wanted to finish even as he thought he felt loose fingers move enough on his neck as if to offer support but knew his brother was sleeping soundly and the movement was just something Dean did.

"You'll hate me and you'll be ashamed of me for running or for walking into such an obvious trap but I couldn't go through it again. I do remember my time with Samuel and even soulless I didn't want to face that without you so like you can probably figure I drove until I hit that dog but even in Texas every day I looked over my shoulder cause I could feel someone watching me," Sam felt tired, he felt drained and he wished he didn't feel the memories.

"So that's why I gave up, Dean. Not because I didn't want to look for you or anything but because I got scared and ran like the coward Dad always said I'd be. I…just wanted you to know that in case…well, just in case…this goes wrong with me or anything, I wanted you to at least know that I'd never not just look for you.

"You're my big brother and I will still look up to you…until I can't no more so regardless of what you still may think of me for walking away or what you may end up thinking if this mess with the trials goes bad…and I can say this since you're asleep…Iloveyou," Sam rushed the last three words out then let his breath ease out more slowly.

Feeling a little relieved that he'd at least gotten it out while knowing he'd leave his journal where Dean would find it before they faced the last trial so his brother could read what he'd just confessed, Sam wiped his face with a distracted hand before going to try to push himself back to his feet in order to see if he could make it to his room without falling or being sick again.

Sam had just started to move when the fingers that had been lightly half gripping his neck suddenly moved to fully grip it in the sort of grasp that Dean used when both being supportive but also warning his younger brother not to even think about moving.

Freezing in mid-move, Sam felt his heart sort of stop even as he was slumping back to the floor while trying to get his heart back in his chest and find some saliva since his mouth had seemed to have dried up at the tighter grip on his neck.

"You're…you're awake, aren't you?" he finally managed to ask, feeling the grip tighten a little more but still not enough to hurt when an all too awake, all too alert, and all too deep & husky voice replied.


"How…how long have you been awake?" Sam almost dreaded the answer because he could tell just by his brother's voice that Dean must have been awake for a little while. The deeper husky tone usually was his emotion driven, halfway to pissed off one.

"Oh, I figure about five minutes after you started coughing…two hours ago," Dean smirked before finally propping himself up on his elbow to lean down so he could see into Sam's face. "How exactly do you think you got the trashcan that you spent forty minutes puking your guts up into?" he challenged, adding. "You tend to blank out the world these days, Sammy."

Debating between groaning or growling, Sam closed his eyes tight as this sank in and knew he'd been spilling his guts and his sleeping brother hadn't been sleeping at all which means that Dean had heard every word he'd just said and while that had been Sam's initial plan he also knew just how bad that could be in the long run.

"Uh-huh," he mumbled, cursing under his breath while pressing his hand to the floor in an attempt to get to his feet without falling. "Okay, so I'll…just be…I'm sorry I woke you and…I'm gonna go…um…Dean."

This time Sam had to wince when the fingers digging into the back of his neck did hurt but just in Dean's final way of warning him to sit still because if Sam knew how Dean's temper would react to even half of what he probably just heard then Dean was more than aware that if he let go now his little brother would try to bolt to avoid what was definitely going to be one huge moment.

Dean had honestly surprised himself. When it had dawned on him that Sam hadn't even been aware of his presence in Sam's room shortly after the coughing fit hadn't stopped and he'd soon heard his brother throwing up, he'd chosen to do what he could at the moment then return to his room and see what Sam would do.

As a small child whenever Sam was sick to this point he'd eventually seek his brother out. When he'd been a toddler or really small it would be to crawl into Dean's bed because Sam felt comforted by that.

When Sam had gotten older, he was just content with waking his brother up if it was only to hear Dean bitch about being woke up.

Even in these past few years and they'd been strained or fighting, Dean had always woken up at the first sound of a cough or anything wrong with Sam.

Having separate rooms made it a little harder on Dean and he knew that Sam hated having his own room, despite all the bitching and moaning the kid had done about privacy, but he still would wake up at the first sound of coughing or anything else that might be wrong with his brother.

That night hadn't been different but something with how Sam was acting had warned Dean to wait it out rather than try to get through to Sam when this had first started so he'd gone back to his own room, left the desk light on and waited.

The continuing sounds of Sam throwing up and the odd noises had worried Dean and he'd been debating with himself on going back when he'd heard the soft knock on his door and decided to see what Sam would do if he thought Dean was sound asleep.

He'd been expecting his brother to maybe come in, try to wake him up if he still wasn't feeling better or the symptoms that Sam thought he was hiding so well had gotten worse.

Dean hadn't been expecting him to sit down and begin to talk. He hadn't been expecting to hear what he did even though within five minutes he'd gotten the sinking feeling that what his little brother was going to say wasn't going to make him happy.

Pretending to be asleep while still giving Sam the blanket and moving around like he had in order to just casually toss his hand around hadn't been easy but the second he'd heard the word Campbell and then listened to what Sam had said happened in the time Dean was in Purgatory really did push his skills to their limits.

Now that he wasn't pretending to be asleep and now that Sam knew he hadn't been asleep came the hard part. Now he had to keep Sam still long enough to make him understand a few things and also so he could see what the hell the bastards had done to his little brother.

"We both know if you even try to stand right now I'll be picking you up off the floor before you can make it to the door, geek," he remarked easily even though the hand he'd kept under the pillow ached from where he'd fisted it as his emotions had grown more intense.

Sitting up on the side of his bed to run restless fingers through his own hair Dean noticed how much of Sam's was back in his face and debated on mentioning the use of a good pair of clippers again when he felt his brother shudder and grew serious. "Why Sam?"

Too tired from earlier and emotionally drained from what he'd just revealed to even pretend he didn't understand the question, Sam let out a breath while turning his head so it was resting on the arms he'd wrapped around his knees. "You'd jumped to the conclusion that I hadn't looked so…I let you think that."

Remembering all too well the stab of pain he'd felt when learning that Sam had quit hunting, that he hadn't even tried to get him out of Purgatory, Dean also remembered the lingering doubts his brother's lame excuse had given him.

To Dean, Sam's line of hitting a dog, meeting a girl and just dropping out of hunting because he was alone didn't make sense to him and if it didn't make sense to Dean than it often wasn't true.

This was the little brother who'd found a faith healer when Dean was dying after the Rawhead fried him, or he'd fried himself while frying the monster. This was the little brother who'd nearly driven himself mad when that damn Trickster playing Archangel had a field day killing Dean over and over then for six months made Sam think Dean was dead…or maybe he had been since he still hadn't gotten that mess clear.

He'd seen Sam drive himself to the point of exhaustion to find a way to free Dean from the crossroads deal that sent him to Hell and he'd seen the extremes that his brother would let himself go to get him back out of Hell so buying that load of crap about just hitting a dog, meeting a girl and finding normal just wasn't something Dean normally did.

Dean hadn't fully bought it but he also hadn't found a way to break the lie and so waited. He'd suspected that something had happened to make Sam leave hunting and had been subtly looking into other hunters with an ax to grind with them but he honestly had not been expecting to ever hear the name Campbell ever again.

More comfortable with at least his jeans on, Dean grabbed them to hurriedly dress before going over to flip the desk light on fully and didn't miss the hiss Sam gave as the sudden light hurt his eyes and turning around he got a good look at Sam and didn't like what he was seeing.

Sam had been pale and shaky for weeks. The second trial had done a number on him and it wasn't until Sam couldn't even hold his gun steady that it began to sink in for Dean how badly this situation was going for them.

He hadn't missed all the unspoken things in Sam's confession tonight. It was easy to tell that Sam's confidence in surviving these trials was starting to get shaky and that was why he'd given up to finally come clean about his reasons for quitting.

"Stay put," Dean ordered firmly then left his room, knowing his brother would probably stay sitting on the floor and if Sam did move he wouldn't get far with how weak he seemed to be right then.

Lips puckering in what he knew would be considered a pout, Sam considered trying to get up or to at least have this fight on neutral ground but all he managed to do was pull himself up to the side of his brother's bed and that was where Dean found him when he got back a few minutes later.

"Start drinking this," he'd already opened the bottle of blue Gatorade he'd picked up from the store even before this last case had found them, pressing it into Sam's hand but didn't let go until he was certain his brother could hold it. "You've been throwing up for hours so I'm not having you dehydrated on top of everything else."

Dean waited until Sam had taken a few sips before he nodded then knelt down. "Let me see the marks," he knew this would be the hard part since Sam would be falling back in self protect mode but the second his brother's fingers moved to ease the leg of his sweat pant up all of Dean's concern tripled.

Swallowing the concern he got from not getting an argument, his eyes slit at the perfectly drawn scar of a hunter's mark on his little brother's thigh.

As a man who'd learned how to make just such marks from Hell's very own torture master, Dean's teeth grinded together as Sam's words came back and knew the pain his brother would've endured while this was being made and then to have whiskey and salt rubbed into it would have been double the pain.

"They're still out there," Sam whispered, keeping his head down because he didn't want to see Dean's face right then and because he knew if he looked up that he'd probably throw up again. "That's…why I don't like…to go out alone or…let you go…they can still and Dean…I…oh, this is gonna be bad…"

Grabbing the trashcan he'd sat by his bed earlier, Dean managed to catch Sam before he fell forward by wrapping a strong arm around his chest then supported him while holding the can as the Gatorade came back up. "Yeah, this isn't a bad sign of things to come or anything," he muttered, long ago learned instincts telling him when it was safe to lower the can.

"No one is going to hurt you, Sam," understanding now his brother's slight panic attacks when they first began hunting again after his return this time, Dean felt the same burning rage as he had the moment he learned of some of the crap his grandfather and the Campbell Soup Kids had pulled.

Sick, weak, in pain again and more scared than he wanted to admit right then, Sam didn't have the strength to move much less try to speak when he felt the arm supporting him shift to allow Sam to lean over more so that his full weight was being supported by his older brother's shoulder. "He said…"

"Hey, I'm your big brother and I say that no one, especially not our Mom's so-called bastard family, will hurt you so long as I'm…okay let's not go there," Dean sighed when he felt Sam tense. "Before I get you back to bed so you can crash for the next…decade, let's get something clear," he began, using the deep firm big brother voice that he only used when needing Sam to pay attention.

"I was too raw when I got back or I would've seen through that crappy lie you shot at me because I know you. I know you because I raised you and no matter what else neither one of us would leave the other stranded without at least trying to find the other. So the whole I hit a dog line really didn't wash," Dean noticed that his brother's fingers were shaking as they tried to play with the black band Dean had taken to wearing again, recognizing this as an old habit Sam had from way back when.

"…I wanted to find you, De'n," Sam's voice was low, another sign he was getting ready to crash again. "Shouldn't have…run…I'm…a…"

Dean reached up to firmly grasp his brother's chin in his hand to lift it up so their eyes could meet. "You say the word coward again and I am so letting Charlie kick your ass, little brother," he warned sharply, pleased to see a slight shift in Sam's glassy looking hazel eyes since Dean kicking his ass was usual but the thought of being weak enough that Charlie, who was even shorter than Dean, could do it made Sam perk up a little.

"You're not a coward, Sammy," Dean told him, wishing the crap in their lives hadn't given Sam the opinion that he could possibly be considered one. "You've gotten into the faces of some of the most powerful beings in the universe, including Lucifer so you are by far not a coward.

"I can get why they'd have issues with me since Samuel blamed me for bringing Yellow Eyes right to the attention of Mom back in '73 but none of them should take it out on you. Gwen was my fault, no matter if I did have that damn wormy thing in me at the time and I'm still not sure who to say actually killed Samuel since I'm still at odds over what brought him back in the first damn place," he sighed, then shook his head.

"It actually makes sense why the Angels wanted Mom and Dad together so badly. I mean, according to Henry, Dad was supposed to be one of the Men of Letters and Mom was from a family of legendary hunters so they'd get a combination of both only it didn't turn out like that and they had to make do. Now, we'll make do."

Slipping the bracelet off to slide it onto Sam's wrist so it would hopefully hold his attention while Dean eased the back of his brother's T-shirt up to look at the brand the soon to be extinct clan of hunters had put on his little brother's back and immediately felt his lips curl in a snarl.

"Sonuvabitch," he gritted, fighting the urge to say a few other choice words as he recognized the brand all right but not from the journal that had belonged to their Dad or even from one of Bobby's books.

While Sam's extensive research into Angel lore had given them a small clue to the array of brands or sigils used in Enochian, Dean's forty years in Hell had given him a much more extensive knowledge into demon sigils and brands and he knew with just one brief look that he was staring at a demon sigil.

Cutting or burning a hunter's mark on his little brother was one huge mistake but putting a damn brand on him that any demon with a knowledge of their own lore and knew the right spell to enact it was one that would bring certain death the first chance Dean got.

Swallowing a little as his stomach turned with the images this brought up, Dean smirked a little. From what Sam had said this Ezra Campbell fancied himself the man with all the knowledge but as he looked at the brand harder and ignored the temper that sizzled he knew the old man and his band of sadistic sons of bitches hadn't known one tiny bit of information.

That while Alastair had taught Dean how to hurt, how to use brands such as this he'd also been taught how to remove them when needed and while it might hurt like hell he was at least going to try.

"De'n?" Sam didn't look up from the black band he was still focused on which meant he hadn't noticed what his brother was doing as Dean had pulled a small silver switchblade from the pocket of his jeans to slice it over his own palm.

"Yeah, Sammy?" he'd noticed his brother was starting to drop the letters in his name like he did when sick or tired but wasn't too worried about that yet as he bit his lip as a thin line of blood pooled in his hand.

"Did…you ever happen to find…the band like this that…I had?" the question was asked hesitantly as if Sam was worried about asking it or worried about the reply he'd get in return.

Smiling a little, Dean didn't answer right away as he pressed his now bloody palm over the small brand on the lower part of his brother's back while whispering softly in Latin while knowing the Latin would be more painful for him but he refused to ever speak the spell as it was originally designed since nothing from Hell would ever touch Sam again if Dean could help it.

"Yeah, I found it," he finally replied, feeling the heat of the brand begin to burn his palm but the pain was minor as Dean knew this wouldn't remove it completely as the full spell would have but it would make it nearly impossible for anyone to control that mark or his brother. "That's it. Mine's in my pocket."

Shuddering as he suddenly noticed where Dean's hand was, Sam tried to move only to feel the arm that was supporting him tighten. "What? How? Dean what're you doing?" he asked all at once when a sudden cool feeling brushed up his back as his T-shirt feel back into place and his brother shrugged.

"I've been wearing that band since I found it in my shirt pocket the day I dug myself outta that grave," he replied easily enough, trying to keep his voice steady against either emotion or leftover pain. "Figured you'd ask for it, though I'm not sure how I ended up with yours. Now you've got it back and I was just looking at your back.

"Right now and until we get these damn trials over with one way or another I don't want you worrying about any Campbells," Dean went on, quickly wiping his palm on the side of his jeans before holding it up to halt any argument Sam may try to give him. "They are not an issue right now and when or if they do become an issue, they are my issue, Sammy.

"They chose to nail you because they knew I wasn't around to rip their damn lungs out but now I am and I will make damn sure to deal with the first hunter or Campbell who comes around us," he promised, already deciding he was ripping body parts off of someone just as soon as he got a hold of someone who could tell him who Sam had talked to those three months before he was jumped.

"Now, pay attention because I'm only saying this once then you're going to sleep and I get to call do-over when you wake up," pausing to ignore the slight bitch face he was shot, Dean gave his hand a quick look to make sure the cut had sealed when the spell had ended. "I'm not thrilled that you lied to me but I get the whole protect thing just so long as you get that the next time someone decides to jump you…you actually tell me so I can feed them their lungs…or heart.

"Next, I'm not ashamed of you and I don't hate you for dropping out of sight after it happened. I wish we still had people you could trust but I also know that we don't…aside from Garth and yeah, I'll deal with Nina so don't freak about her showing up to pound my head in," that actually was one of the great things with this place being in a dead zone as far as Dean was concerned, he had a say in who found them and Charlie was the only bubbly personality he wanted to know where they were.

"Finally, you are making it through this last trial," Dean knew that was Sam's biggest fear now since his health seemed to be getting worse every damn day and if he was honest with himself it was also one of Dean's biggest fears as well…not that he'd ever let on to Sam though. "You're going to get your strength back while I hack every camera in this country to find our Prophet then we're going to figure out the third trial, slam the door on Crowley and go back to shooting Wendigos with flareguns."

Listening to the confidence in his brother's voice gave Sam some hope. He just prayed that in the end he deserved Dean's confidence because he wasn't going to let his brother down again…no matter what may happen in this last trial.

"Hunting things, saving people," he whispered, thinking back to how simple it had all been once and shocked at how much he missed even the demon in the vent of that airliner…though it had been amusing to see his cocky brother scared of flying.

"The family business, little brother," Dean nodded, using the arm he still had around Sam's shoulders a slight squeeze before easing him away in order to look at his face and didn't miss how pale he still seemed and also how tired. "Now, are you done with this late night confession or do you care to confess to being the one who lost my one AC/DC tape when you were fourteen?"

Blinking tired eyes to try to keep them open a little while longer, the innocent question nearly made Sam reply until he snapped back with a pure bitch face and fake sulk. "Dean, I told you…Dad lost that during one of his cleaning sprees of the Impala and…"

"Geeky boy, when you were fourteen I was eighteen and the car was mine. Dad never touched it to clean it," Dean reminded with a smirk, relieved that regardless of how bad he felt that his geeky pain in the ass little brother could still try to lie even though he knew it was useless in this case. "You ready to try the walk back to that mess you call a room, talk about a cleaning job if I've ever seen one, or not?"

The thought of trying to sleep in that room again in case he'd get sick or worse made Sam tense again but he couldn't come up with another excuse without seeming stupid so as he started to nod he caught the way his brother was frowning and eyeing a bruise Sam had gotten while fighting the mother Djinn. "Yeah, I'm ready…Dean?"

"Y'know, with the way you're coughing and stuff maybe you shouldn't stay in that room until I get it fumigated or nuked," Dean mused, scratching the back of his head as if deep in thought before eyeing his confused sibling. "Yeah. You can sleep in here, I'll crash on the floor and tomorrow in between stints of looking for Kevin I'll clean your room."

Sam was rubbing his eyes to stare at his brother as if he'd grown three more heads. "Dean, this nesting thing is going too far," he decided, seeing the green eyes he'd grown up watching narrow and was expecting the hand that lightly pushed him until he was laying on Dean's memory foam mattress. "I can take the floor since that's where I've been…shit."

"Huh-uh," Dean snorted, figuring that his brother hadn't been sleeping in his room much. "The bed's memory foam, Sammy. You'll love it. Now try it, go to sleep so I can go back to sleep," he growled, faking the irritation since he'd stay awake until Doomsday if his brother needed him to.

Considering since he knew Dean needed to sleep since he'd been the one to go into the dreamworld to save Charlie even though his brother hadn't said much about it, Sam's body suddenly decided to mutiny on him and he felt sleep coming fast for a change.

Sam put it off to being weak, sick and tired from waking up coughing but as he tossed and turned a few times trying to get comfortable on the different bed he finally flipped to his stomach while giving the extra pillow that had been tossed his way a few punches before clutching it to his chest. As sleep came, he thought he felt gentle fingers card his longer than normal hair back out of his face and batted at them with a mutter to stay away from the clippers.

"I am so clipping this mess, Sammy," Dean muttered under his breath then as he watched his brother relax more as he fell into a deep more restful sleep he ease down beside the bed while making sure the blanket stayed around Sam.

He'd told Charlie that he'd never give it up and he won't. Dean knew that no matter what happened now he'd stick it out with Sam and he'd kill the next son of a bitch who tried to hurt the kid, regardless of who it was.

Sam's confession reminded Dean that there were a few things he'd been meaning to tell his brother but had always put it off. Watching him now, seeing how weak he was getting daily and how each new day brought on a new problem, he wondered if he didn't need to so some confessing of his own.

"No, cause we are pulling you through this, Sammy," he whispered, turning so his back was to the nightstand by the bed as he chose to sit up awhile longer to make certain Sam didn't wake up sick again and wonder how the hell he could find a damn Prophet without locking Sam's computer up again.

A soft mumble was heard and years of translating Sammy-speak have Dean an inner knowledge of what his brother had just said and smirked. "Yeah, I love you too, jerk," he sighed, figuring he'd call do-over later while Sam was sleeping and he was cleaning his brother's room. "We're going to make it, Sammy. I'll get you through to that other end of the tunnel…cause I am not losing you to these damn trials. This is one time the Winchesters will save the damn world without either of us sacrificing a damn thing."

Dean had his own little doubts if he could pull that off but if Sam needed to think that then that's the act he'd put on because he did not plan on losing Sam again, no matter what he had to do to make sure that didn't happen.

The End

A/NII: Thanks for reading and I do hope you guys enjoyed this piece. I have a couple other ideas in mind for tags for this episode and other plots so stay tuned for more!