Writer's note: I just self-published my first story on amazon! (It's totally worth 99 cents, I swear!) Also just updated my website like whoa, so if you're interested in checking out either of those things, visit my bio page for the links or just hop on over to alexlkerr dot com. Thank you!


Piercing screeches and blasting noises: it was like a wind tunnel with shards of glass and rusted metal speeding, churning, slashing into him and slicing his mind into pure agony. Brilliant white lights blinded him as they strobed in and out with no rhythm or sense. Everything colliding, everything pain, disorientation, overwhelming and suffocating.

"Sam."

The voice cut through and suddenly everything went black. Sam could feel his body. He could feel himself breathing - hyperventilating.

"Sam!" The voice cut through the blackness. It was rough, hardened, but unmistakable. Sam's eyes snapped open and he focused in on Dean. His brother was standing over him with a gun trained at his head.

Sam stared into his brother's eyes, his own dull and barely comprehending as his heart beat a mile a minute and his breaths like gasps.

"Nuh... De-" Sam rasps, starting to reach out to his brother. Instead, his hand fell off the cot and hung there.

Dean watched with distaste and kept his gun level.

"S'it really you?" He barked and Sam quaked as his eyes widened. He tried to shake his head, clearly starting to panic.

"Sh..Shhh..." His voice trembled as he angled his eyes straight from the gun to Dean's face and back to the gun.

"Puh... puh... Shhhoo..."

Sam's eyes started to water and tears slipped down his face. Dean could tell he was begging.

"Dean, don't," Cas's gravelly voice reverberated around the room. "It's him."

Sam gasped.

"No... no no no - shoot," Sam sobbed breathlessly. Dean stared down at him, eyes blazing with disgust, his finger on the trigger.

"Then why's he begging me to shoot 'im?" Dean snarled back at Cas, keeping his contemptuous gaze on Sam. Sam gasped for breath on the cot, beads of sweat rolling down his face and neck with pain and the exertion to speak.

"He thinks he deserves to die," Cas answered mournfully.

"De-Dean..." Sam rasped, reaching up and weakly grasping the cuff of his brother's jeans, "Kill... kill me now. Now-" he spasmed, his heart rate having spiked for a second, "N-Now... Before... Lucifer can f-find me an'.. an' bring me... back."

Dean watched his sniveling little brother. He flinched with repulsion at Sam's touch and bared his teeth with thinly concealed rage as he listened to Sam's pleas. He flicked the safety off the gun and readied himself. Sam's eyes widened with hope at Dean's preparatory stance.

"Dean-" Cas said, alarmed, jumping up from his chair and stepping forward.

"What?" Dean growled back, fixing Sam's forehead in his sights. "He wants this. It can end right now. A single bullet," he explained, his voice harsh and final. As he spoke, Sam's tears fell and he nodded in agreement.

"Yes... yes... please, Dean..." Sam cried, stopping Cas in his tracks. Sam's voice tapered off and Dean took a moment to consider the last words he'd say to his brother.

"This will be fast, Sam. You don't deserve it... but there will be no pain," he announced solemnly. A fresh wave of tears came over Sam as he nodded desperately. Cas watched in horror as Dean took a step closer and Sam moved his head down and stilled against the cot to make the shot easier.

Sam looked up into his brother's eyes, communicating his understanding and acceptance: what had come to pass and what must be done now. He was not afraid; not with Dean behind the trigger. He had wished for death for so long now and this - this was a better death than he thought he'd ever get. Because if Dean was the one killing him... then he could trust that it was right.

"Th-thank you," Sam choked out, his honest brown eyes glittering with tragic relief. A flash of emotion flitted across Dean's features before the gunshot rang out loudly.

Sam's whole body jerked at the sound as he heard a surprised shout of pain. He curled in on the cot in agony from having moved. He blinked and looked up around the room. There in front of him, the blurry outline of his brother on his knees, hunched over and holding his shoulder.

Sam started writhing, reaching out to his brother in desperation, panic and extreme pain intermingling.

"No!" Sam keened weakly, crying, "Please... no..." Sam collapsed into wracking sobs against the cot, terrified. "Don't take me back..." he wept.

The world started darkening around the edges, tunneling his vision. He tried to hold on, but couldn't even react when he heard his brother's grunt of pain as someone knocked him out cold less than a foot away.

"De-Dean," Sam keened, his voice the merest whisper. He felt terror at the hand that pressed against him. Terror turned to confusion as Dean's soft voice sifted into his mind.

"Sammy, it's okay. It's gonna be okay. You're fine," the voice reassured. Dean's voice.

Before falling back into unconsciousness, Sam's words floated out and trailed off.

"You're not Dean..."

...

Cas grimaced as he pulled the bandage tighter around Dean's shoulder as Dean shouted in pain.

"Careful, Cas, Jesus..."

"Mm, sorry," Cas murmured, inwardly rolling his eyes.

"Where is he?"

Cas licked his lips and leaned back in his chair. They were upstairs in the cabin above the basement that held Sam.

"Where do you think?" He asked back, folding his arms. Dean shook his head and stared at the battered wooden table, thinking. "You going to tell him?"

Dean looked up, squinting in confusion until he realized what Cas meant.

"I didn't do anything."

Cas cringed and pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his front pocket. He balanced the butt between his lips as he spoke.

"You gonna tell him?" He pressed, finding his lighter and lighting his cigarette. He inhaled and blew the smoke out above them, then looked back to Dean.

"No," Dean growled.

"Why?"

"It's irrelevant."

"Then why won't you tell him?"

Dean ticked his head to the side and glared at his friend. Cas disregarded it easily, immune to Dean's unspoken threats. Life was miserable as a mortal; no reason to add to it with worries that one might get injured or one might die.

As a sign of disrespect, Cas breezily angled his gaze off of Dean and into the distance. He considered his next words lazily, taking another puff of his cigarette and letting the smoke roll off his lips.

Finally, he leaned forward and fixed Dean with his own stare. He wasn't threatening or angry - it was nothing like the expression Dean had given him. Instead, his clear blue eyes held a glint of steadfast determination and a hint of belief that he had the best of intentions.

He took another puff of his cigarette and let go of the smoke just before he spoke.

"Dean, if you don't tell him, I will."

...

Sam was delirious with pain and while the camp had their stock of antibiotics up to date, anesthetics were a luxury.

Dean held his brother down on the cot as Sam squirmed beneath him, crying. He used the dirty washcloth to wipe him down, long strokes against his face, neck and chest.

"Calm down, calm down, no one's coming. You're safe," Dean chanted, wondering why the hell Sam wasn't relaxing like he always did at the sound of Dean's voice.

"Thah... Then I have... to go... You can't..." Sam coughed and yelled out in pain, trembling. Dean automatically leaned down and braced him, one arm under his back, the other holding the base of his head.

"Okay c'mon, calm down," Dean resumed, this time closer to Sam's ear.

"You can't... You don't..." Sam tried to get out. He trailed off into heaving breaths and a slow groan. Dean held him steady.

"Go to sleep, Sam. I've got ya, you hear?" he asked, pushing Sam's face back to look directly into his green eyes. "I've got ya," he repeated, eyes roaming Sam's sweaty, panicked face for recognition and acceptance of Dean's words. He didn't see it: Sam's eyes just frantically examined Dean's expression. "Sam, Sammy... Nothing's going to happen to you. I'm here now," Dean tried to explain, tried to trigger his brother into remembering his role. "You're my little brother, Sam. I take care of you. I protect you," Dean said, cringing that he had to put it out there so bluntly. He felt a tear roll down his cheek and blinked more out of his eyes so he could see. Sam's mouth was opening and closing, his own tears tracking down his face. He shook his head as the rest of his body quaked in Dean's arms.

"You're not Dean. I.. I-I saw Dean..." Sam whispered.

Dean pursed his lips, wondering how he was going to explain that there were two different Deans - one from five years ago: him - and one from this day and age: the broken stranger upstairs.

"That... He wasn't real, Sam. I'm real. Just focus on me," he said gently, lowering Sam down onto the cot. Keeping one hand centered on Sam's forehead, he leaned over to grab the soaking wash cloth from the basin. He rinsed it lightly and came back into Sam's view. He pushed the wet rag around Sam's face, wiping him down, then moved to his neck.

"But... But... I cah..." Sam breathed, taking another second before struggling to speak again, "called... called...for... you," he gasped out, "So, so many times..."

Dean watched, surprised, as Sam's cries transformed from one's of physical pain to something else. Sam was crying out of something he was thinking and feeling, not the wounds. And apparently he had called for Dean... Called for help. And his brother hadn't come... Hadn't saved him like he'd said he would.

His heart twisted at the thought as he stared into his brother's wide brown eyes, still able see innocence. Those eyes belonged to a child - his child: the kid he'd practically raised.

Dean leaned into Sam's frame of vision.

"I would have come if I could have, Sammy," he whispered, not knowing what he was talking about. It just seemed like solid answer that'd calm his little brother.

It didn't though. Sam's sobs grew worse until Dean leaned down again to hold him.

"No, I know you could have," Sam groaned, depression and anguish filtering through his pain-laced hysteria. "I knew... I know... I saw you."

Dean hugged his brother, but curiosity got the better of him.

"Saw me what, Sammy?" He asked gently.

"I s-saw it... When... you... gave up on me," Sam twisted his head to the side, refusing to look at his big brother's reaction.

Dean stilled, dumbstruck, then rage seeped in. He was going to shoot that bastard again, he was pretty sure.

But, in the meantime, Sam was still conscious and struggling and Dean decided to go with the truth with this one.

"Sam - Sammy," he murmured, hugging his brother down on the cot, "Listen - listen to me now, Sammy," he stressed, pushing his lips to the side of Sam's head. "I have not given up on you," he said roughly. Sam trembled under him but remained quiet. "I have not given up on you," Dean repeated, this time softly, placing a gentle hand against Sam's face. He felt tears on his brother's face and brushed them off as he repeated himself for the third time. "I have not-" Sam jerked, a sob escaping, "given up on you."

Sam cried quietly beneath him and Dean shifted the side of Sam's head to press closely against his.

"You've got to go back to sleep. I don't have anything to put you out. Go to sleep, Sammy. You're safe. You're safe with me," Dean lulled his reassurances, feeling his brother finally start to relax.

Soon, Sam's breathes changed to regularity as he fell asleep to Dean's voice and touches. As soon as he was out, Dean began to lift himself up and away by small degrees. Eventually, he'd managed it without waking his brother and stepped carefully out of the room.

His pace quickened, his fury mounting, as he moved farther away from Sam and closer to where he knew his future self would be upstairs.


Writer's Note: Thank you for reading! And check out my short story and/or website at alexlkerr dot com if you feel like it! Also, please comment/review on this chapter if you can spare a minute! I love hearing from you guys!