Summary: Pre-Series – Hurt, Cuddly Sam / Awesome, Protective Big Brother Dean – Mary's words about Sam had often echoed in Dean's mind. "When he's scared, he wraps himself in you..."

Disclaimer: Not mine

Warnings: Usual language

A/N: Long time, no post! Coming up for air since I've been working feverishly all summer on a multi-chapter story that I'm determined to finish before posting. Working on chapter eight of that story now, but something in chapter seven inspired this little romp.

You make me feel safe. You make me feel like I could live another day. ~ Jessie J.

"When he's scared, he wraps himself in you," Mary had told a four-year old Dean one stormy night when nothing would soothe a fussy baby Sammy except being held by his big brother.

Dean had looked up at his mom as the thunder had rumbled loud enough to shake the house. "How do you know?" he had whispered as he had sat beside her on the floor in the darkness of their living room.

One candle between them having cast eerie shadows on the walls. The power having been lost in the summer storm; John having been stuck in town working late at the garage; and a four-year old child having not understood why Mary had insisted they sit inside a circle of salt until the storm was over or until Daddy got home...whichever happened first.

"How do you know?" Dean had repeated as his mother had stared at the clock on the opposite wall, either checking the time or checking that it still ticked.

The lightning had chased after the thunder, had split the sky with a jagged crack and had flashed through the windows as Mary had blinked, had gathered herself and had smiled down at her four-year old.

"Look at him..." she had told Dean as her oldest had rested against her; his small back leaning into her chest as he had continued to hold Sammy, the baby no longer crying but sleeping soundly.

Dean had glanced down at his brother. "Wow..." he had commented. "How did I do that?"

Mary had laughed softly at the wonder in Dean's voice, her four-year old mystified as to how he had gotten his baby brother to stop crying without doing anything more than holding him.

"It's big brother magic," the young mother had told her oldest as the thunder had rumbled again.

Dean's eyes had widened before he had smiled. "I'm awesome," he had declared and had wrapped his arms tighter around the warm bundle of baby Sammy as the infant had snuggled closer.

Mary had laughed once more. "Yes, you are, sweetheart..." she had readily agreed. "You're an awesome big brother, and Sammy feels safe with you," she had assured Dean. "You take care of him. You make him feel better."

"So do you," Dean had countered, had glanced back at his mom to make sure she wasn't selling herself short of awesomeness.

Mary had smiled. "Yes. But it's different," she had replied. "The bond between brothers is different."

Dean had nodded as though he had understood.

Mary had sighed, had sounded tired and sad as she had brushed Dean's bangs from his eyes and had kissed his forehead before rubbing her baby's back.

Sam had stirred beneath her touch, had nuzzled into Dean's neck as his tiny hand had fisted the four-year old's Batman pajama top.

Dean had beamed at the baby's affectionate gesture, his expression seeming brighter as it had been illuminated by another flash of lightning. "Did you see that?"

Mary's smile had returned. "Mmhmm..." she had hummed. "Your little brother loves you."

"And I love him," Dean had proclaimed with all of the sincerity a four-year old heart could hold.

Mary had blinked against tears, had known her boys would always have each other even if they didn't always have her.

There had been silence after that.

The storm had slowly died.

The thunder had quieted.

The lightning had dimmed.

And the clouds had dispersed.

The lights had flickered on.

The candle between them had been extinguished.

And the circle of salt had disappeared in the whir and whirl of the vacuum.

"Our secret..." Mary had whispered to her four-year old with a conspiratorial wink as he had watched her.

Sitting on the couch with a baby Sammy still held securely in his arms, Dean had nodded at his mom; his expression having been both curious and confused as to why they would keep secrets from Daddy.

An hour later, John had finally come home.

And everything had been forgotten

Everything had seemed okay.

Until November...

But Mary's words about Sam had often echoed in Dean's mind.

When he's scared, he wraps himself in you.

That had been true in the beginning and had remained true over the years.

Even now, it seemed that was still true about Dean's little brother.

Because barely three hours after a hunt had gone dangerously wrong, Sam's small hand was wrapped around the amulet hanging from Dean's neck...and Dean's arms were wrapped around Sam.

It was a familiar scene.

The amulet's gold charm clutched in the 12-year old's palm, his fingers tangled in the black cord while he slept against Dean's chest.

Dean quirked an affectionate smile, gently ruffling Sam's floppy hair before rubbing his brother's back. The big brother thankful his kid was okay as he remembered how Sam had clung to him in the terrifying aftermath of what should have been an easy hunt.

But nothing was ever easy.

Not for them.

Dean had reminded John of that.

And John had dismissed his concern; had insisted that everything would be fine – that Sam would be fine.

"My ass..." Dean muttered at the bullshit promise and clenched his jaw at the thought, freshly disgusted by the night's events as he continued to rub Sam's back.

The big brother frowning at the bruising around Sam's neck but grateful for the rhythmic thump of Sam's heart reassuringly beating in unison with his; thankful for every soft breath he felt ghost over his skin as Sam's head rested on his shoulder...even if those breaths were strained and slightly congested.

Because things could have ended so differently earlier that night...

Dean swallowed, remembering their arrival at the abandoned Tucker family homestead 20 miles outside of town; remembering how John had entered the house first...then himself...then Sam.

Remembering how almost instantly there had been objects hurled across the room with wounding accuracy; how John had taken the brunt of the attack, protecting his sons.

But then everything had erupted into a chaotic blur.

There had been swearing – and lots of it – as John had ducked another vicious assault. Their father having wiped the blood trickling down his forehead away from his left eye before he had yelled over his shoulder at Dean.

But Dean had been too focused on a little brother who had been snatched and flung to the opposite side of the room.

The big brother's heart having sunk, his stomach having clenched at the sight of Sam pinned against the wall; the 12-year old coughing and gasping as he had choked beneath the unyielding hands of a pissed spirit who had known their weak spot.

There had been more swearing.

Then guns had fired as salt was sprayed into the air.

The spirit had vanished in a swirl of vapor with a strangled howl.

Sam had slid down the wall...but had barely reached the floor before the spirit had reappeared and had lifted him again; had squeezed tighter around the 12-year old's neck, had been determined to kill Sam before Sam's father and brother killed it.

"No fucking way," Dean had growled as his little brother had stared at him with wide, panicked, terrified eyes. "Let him go!" the big brother had demanded and had stepped forward without thinking; had stepped in front of John and had raised his shotgun again, taking aim.

Sam had weakly struggled in the spirit's grasp.

Dean had fired.

The earlier sequence had repeated – vanish, reappear, attack.

Sam had gagged and gasped and had turned an alarming shade of blue as he had continued to choke.

Dean had felt his own lungs ache.

"Found them!" John had suddenly announced from somewhere behind Dean in the corner of the cabin; had hastily poured salt on the discovered remains and then had ignited a blaze.

Salt and burn.

Rest in peace, you murderous sonuvabitch.

The spirit had glared as it had recognized the hunters' victory, had attempted one last lethal squeeze around Sam's neck but instead had disappeared in flame and smoke.

Gone...for good this time.

In the next instant, Sam had collapsed to the floor in a motionless heap.

Dean had rushed forward, kneeling beside his brother.

"Sammy..." he had called as he had set his gun aside and had reached for his kid, feeling himself breathe only when he had finally heard Sam raggedly gasp and then slur his name.


"You're okay," Dean had automatically soothed and had grasped Sam's searching hand, carefully lifting the traumatized 12-year old from the floor and pulling him close. "I'm right here, Sammy. You're okay."

Sam had instinctively clung to his big brother, becoming more upset at the realization of what had just happened. "D'n..."

"Shhh..." Dean had hushed, surprisingly tender. "Don't talk, kiddo. Just breathe. It's over. You're okay now..."

Sam had nodded in response, his bony chin digging into Dean's shoulder.

Dean had smiled and had buried his hand in Sam's hair, cupping the 12-year old's head as he had held him.

The big brother having briefly closed his eyes in overwhelming relief as he had measured and counted Sam's wheezed breaths.

Because seconds before, Sam hadn't been breathing at all...and may have never breathed again if the spirit had accomplished its goal.

More seconds had passed.

"Holy shit," John had hissed, had sounded as breathless and as scared as Dean had felt as he had extinguished the smoldering flame and had crossed the room, crouching beside his boys. "Is he okay?"

Dean had cut his eyes at John, silently seething.

John had arched an eyebrow at his oldest son's quiet resentment and had repeated his question about Sam's condition. "Is he okay?"

"Yes," Dean had replied, not elaborating and not allowing John to see Sam for himself.

John had narrowed his eyes as his oldest had continued to hold their youngest. "Good," he had praised about Sam being okay and had listened to his child's whistling breaths in the eerie silence of the cabin.

Sam's airway having swollen from the spirit's relentless abuse.

"Shit..." John had harshly sworn as adrenaline had started to wane. "That was close."

"Wow. Ya think?" Dean had caustically shot back.

John had held Dean's heated gaze over Sam's shoulder but had said nothing as he had recalled their earlier argument about bringing their youngest along.

Maybe Dean had been right.

John had sighed, then had glanced around the cabin before looking back at Dean and standing. "Okay. You stay with Sam while I make sure everything else is clear. Then we'll head out. Find somewhere to park and bed down for the night..."

"Fine," Dean had snapped and had stood as well, bringing a shaking, wheezing Sam with him and offering no other response as he had grabbed his gun from the floor and had carried his little brother to the Impala.

John had joined them several minutes after.

And now, three hours later, here they were.

Both brothers tucked in the safety of each other in the backseat of their home sweet home.

A week of too little money and too many questions from too many people equaling nights spent sleeping in the Impala instead of a motel.

But that was fine.

Sometimes Dean even preferred it this way.

The Impala never let them down.

Their father, on the other hand...

Dean sighed, still rubbing Sam's back in that soothing, familiar way he always seemed to do whenever the kid slept against him.

But the gesture was especially comforting tonight.

Because John had been right – that had been close.

What had happened to Sam had been too fucking close.

Dean sighed again, visually checking the bruises on Sam's neck and holding his brother a little closer as he listened to John's soft snores from the driver's seat, thankful that Sam had finally drifted to sleep as well.

Dean having fondly tolerated his scrawny, floppy-haired little brother snuggling against him in the backseat until Sam had not only wrapped his hand around Dean's amulet earlier but had also successfully wormed his way under Dean's leather jacket, the jacket now practically covering the kid like a blanket.


When he's scared, he wraps himself in you.

And tonight, Sam had been scared...had been terrified.

Dean had been, too.

Even now, he swallowed against the fear that still remained.

But Sam seemed fine as he slept soundly against his big brother.

Sammy feels safe with you.

Dean smiled softly as Mary's words once again echoed in his mind; her voice as clear as if she was still sitting behind him, watching over him and Sam during the night.

And Dean guessed in a way...she was.

His smile lingered as their mother's words continued to echo.

Your little brother loves you.

Dean nodded at the reminder, feeling something twist inside his chest – that familiar deep ache of knowing you were loved...and of loving that person right back.

Loving them so damn much it literally hurt.

Just like Dean loved this kid resting against him.

This kid who was absolutely the best thing in Dean's life; the only thing Dean could never live without.

And tonight, that horror had almost become a reality – life without Sam.

Dean shook his head, refusing to think about that, and glanced down at Sam as the 12-year old shifted in his sleep.

Sam grunted quietly and wrinkled his nose, rubbing his face against Dean's flannel shirt as the fringe of his bangs fluttered over Dean's neck.

Dean waited, snorting softly as Sam mumbled something drowsy and incoherent.

Never needing words, Dean reassuringly patted his brother's back and smiled when Sam settled beneath his touch as their mother's reminder came once more.

Your little brother loves you.

"And I love him," Dean whispered to the darkness, his arm tightening around the warm bundle of his kid brother as Sam sighed sleepily and snuggled impossibly closer.

Dean chuckled quietly – because Sam had always been a cuddle bug – and readjusted his leather jacket to wrap more fully around his little brother.

"Night, Sammy..." Dean murmured, resituating himself in the backseat of the Impala and closing his eyes.