Writer's Note: Wow my gosh the season premier was amazing & now I'm off & writing SPN fanfiction again. This weird season 1 one-shot just sort of happened. Rest assured I'll get back to my WIPs soon!

Sam wants his big brother. More than anything right now.

It took a lot to get him to this place. This place where terror overrides every sense and all base instincts narrow down to the desperate need for the person that - ever since he could remember - has afforded him the most love and comfort. The person representing home and safety and warmth; his presence promising Sam that even if he died, it'd be okay. Just his brother's voice whispering that phrase. Everything's gonna be okay, Sammy...

Sam would hear it and he'd believe it because blind terror pulls up other blind sentiments including faith and if Sam had blind faith in anyone, it was in his big brother.

Sam started gagging on the smoke, the heat of the fire inside the house swelling out over the ceiling. Sam was on the floor, his army crawl to get out slowing as he inhaled more and more of the smoke. Dizzy, he'd stopped and started breathing through the sleeve of his jacket. His eyes were tearing from the fumes. Sam was also scared, nearly hyperventilating with panic because of the fire.

After mom, after Jess...Somewhere along the way he'd developed this phobia of fire. It'd never gotten this bad though. When they burnt corpses he'd simply get agitated but since the fire was in a nine foot hole in the earth, he knew there was no way it'd get out of control. And Dean always set them; he was always there. Dean kept Sam away from the fire.

Paralyzed with fear, Sam's wide, terrified eyes stared at the flames flicking into the hallway from the bedroom, his breath stuttering and hitching from both smoke inhalation and the panic attack. He closed his eyes and felt a draft of heat brush over his body from the fire.

"Dean..." Sam cried into his sleeve, trying to comfort himself with his brother's name. He knew Dean wouldn't get here in time. He was across town in the cemetery - salting and burning the corpse that had set the house on fire. The one piece of good news was that there was no sign of the evil undead pyromaniac after the downstairs kitchen had exploded. Dean must've finished the job just a few seconds too late to prevent the asshat from turning the gas to light things up.

Sam had been upstairs at the time. The fire had gotten to the stairwell before Sam could rush out. He'd seen the flames from the head of the stairs and froze. Another explosion in the master bedroom - the room above the kitchen and directly opposite from Sam in the hallway - knocked him to the ground. Old wires and pipes inside the walls above the kitchen were finally getting revenge it seemed, as Sam could hear crackling, sizzling sounds beyond the house's groans and the fire's winds.

Sam held his face in his elbow, his whole body shaking as the sounds reminded him of the night Jess had died. The night the fire had gotten so out of control. The flames licked out of the apartment's windows and flashed shadows upon everyone's ash-covered faces including Dean's. But Sam's visual memory failed him when it came to Dean that night.

Dean's presence was overwhelming in what he remembered: Dean pulled him out of the fire and into the yard. Then Sam had said he didn't care about something before trying to get past Dean to go back and save Jess. Dean retaliated with a harsh shove against Sam's chest and a shout saying that Dean did care about whatever it was... He repeated it: Dean did care.

Something in Sam's subconscious had known what Dean was talking about (or rather, who Dean was talking about) because he'd only struggled against his brother maybe just a second longer before he started clutching him instead of pushing. The grief suffocated him as Dean repeated that he cared over and over again softly... Forcing Sam into a hug that Sam didn't know exactly what to do with until he found himself hunched over, sobbing against Dean. Sam's face hid in the crook of Dean's neck as fresh tears streamed down and Dean's voice took on a desperately sad tone.

"I'm so sorry, Sammy, I'm sorry but I've got you now, okay? You're not alone - I'm right here, Sammy, right here. It's gonna be okay," Dean had soothed, rubbing Sam's spasming back as his gasping breaths and cries continued. Sam started registering Dean's words... and Jess's death and that's when his legs buckled beneath him, deeply overwhelmed and thinking he was totally unable to handle this - any of this...

Dean caught him fast enough though and slowly lowered Sam down to the well-manicured lawn, holding him close.

"I've gotchya, it's okay, Sammy, let it out," Dean murmured softly through Sam's deep, uncontrollable cries, pulling his baby brother up closer against his chest like Sam was all of eight years old again. Sam hated it but he'd just lost the love of his life; the woman that he wanted to marry. He'd lost everything - even the photos of them together in the apartment now - and with that thought another window from their apartment burst glass shards over the front yard. Sam gasped and Dean instinctively forced him down to shield him under Dean's body. Sam was already weak and limp from grief; just fell under Dean and when it was clear, Sam simply returned and folded back into his brother's embrace to burrow under his protection; under Dean's reassuring presence.

As a child Sam was convinced Dean was the superhero and not their father, his ability to guarantee safety, protect Sam from everything just by putting his arms around him.

All reason taught him later that this was not true. But right now...?

Sam distractedly wiped his face, unable to see clearly through the smoke, and his hand came away with a dark, sticky fluid that he immediately recognized as blood. Must've been glass. Sam was pretty sure at some point all the upstairs windows had shattered; the pressure having been too much and the fire's need for oxygen too high. Sam could barely see now though; soot and ash was heavy in the air; Sam could barely breathe.

He crawled a little bit to lie under a window sill that overlooked the front yard.

Despite all the logic and knowledge Sam had about his circumstances - and how undeniably hopeless they were - as the fire burnt hot and swept heat wave after heat wave of air over his back, Sam still wanted Dean. He was going to die and he just wanted his big brother.

He needed Dean to come for him like he always did. As kids, Dean had always said it was his job after saving Sam whether it was from a hunt or a particularly mean teacher or even just the common cold.

Sam would always say ,"Thank you, Dean." For taking care of me. Dean would always shove the gratitude off, replying, "Hey, shut up - it's my job, squirt."

Sam was always skeptical that it was actually Dean's job. He made friends growing up and whenever they had older brothers, Sam saw major differences in how they would treat each other compared to how Dean treated him. They hurt each other a lot more on average and they would argue a lot more than Dean and Sam ever did. The older brothers would always take advantage of how short their younger siblings were but... Dean didn't really do that. Certainly not when it counted (like when they sparred).

And Dean didn't just take care of Sam when Sam was upset or sick either. Dean would read to him at night, get his meals set up for him, encourage his love for school, pick out his clothes to wear, drop him off and pick him up...

Sam wasn't sure whose job that was supposed to be but he didn't think most normal big brothers had it. He thought maybe it was supposed to have been their mom's job but that didn't really make sense to Sam when he was young because if Mom was supposed to do all that stuff, why wasn't Dad covering for her?

Too late now though. Sam couldn't remember a time when Dean thought Sam wasn't his job; when Sam wasn't his to protect and take care of. Growing up, Dean could be aloof one minute, intensely protective the next and honestly it was difficult. Especially as Sam had hit adolescence.

Now, though? God, there wasn't anything Sam wanted more right now than his big brother right next to him, hauling his limp body up, swiping his bangs off his face before pressing Sam against his chest so he could carry him out of here. Dean would rescue him from the top floor of this ridiculous white picket-fenced suburban house. He would drag him out into the cool night air and tell Sam that it was okay - that he could relax now and pass out in his arms... let his big brother take care of him without worrying about anything. Without worrying about getting hurt while he was unconscious or if the ghost would come back or any of it.

Just imagining Dean whispering the reassurances that Sam could let go under Dean's embrace, safe and warm, could close his eyes and fall asleep tempted him to pray for Dean.

Sam started crying as he imagined Dean's words: "Sammy it's okay, close your eyes bud and relax. I've got you," he'd emphasize the last sentence by gently squeezing Sam against him somewhere it wouldn't hurt. Sam would melt into it, lean against Dean and look into his eyes before closing his own. He'd hear Dean's soft coaxings, almost the volume of a lullaby.

"That's it, Sammy, just fall asleep and when you wake up I'll be right here, right here...here... here... right here! HE'S RIGHT HERE!"

Sam blinked his eyes open just as something - an arm - grabbed him from above. He jerked, coughing and gagging on smoke as he felt himself get manhandled by a bulky firefighter. Because... it had to be a firefighter, right?

"D'n?" Sam coughed, disoriented but hopeful. The firefighter ignored the question. Sam suspected that he was coughing too much. He was in such bad shape that his query sounded more like a gurgled gag than any word or name.

Sam felt a hand push him onto his back. His eyes fell open in the midst of wracking coughs. He only vaguely heard the fireman say things to him before the guy bent down to grab Sam under the armpits. His world tipped upside and for a brief moment he was able to see the actual flames and how incredibly close they were. His phobia ratcheted up and his whole body tensed before he blacked out and fell limply over the fireman's shoulder.

Sam vaguely heard sirens in the background now. They were getting louder and Sam felt like he was suffocating as he hung and swayed over his rescuer's shoulder, detached yet still in acute pain. His lungs couldn't take in air; he wheezed as the bright red truck came closer... Medical professionals swarmed him.

"D-...De-" Sam whimpered through his own gags right before someone strapped a plastic oxygen mask to his mouth and nose. At that, Sam reached out, trying to get away and get them off of him in a panic.

"Dean!" He sobbed just as he felt arms push him back and he landed on something soft - a bed. No. A cot? No.

A stretcher. He'd landed on it and he could tell he was moving - rolling over grass and the pebbled driveway to get to the ambulance.

"Keep this on, do you understand?" A firm voice shouted at Sam just as the plastic mask dug into the skin of his face. The paramedic kept it there with his own hand. Sam squinted, coughing, scared and overwhelmed at the paramedic's rough handling. In hindsight Sam would realize that he'd tried so many times over to remove the mask that the paramedic had to keep his hand on it.

"N-n-no..." Sam groaned, feeling a neck brace wrap around him as well as his t-shirt getting cut open. "D-Dean," he breathed whilst weakly batting the team of paramedics away. He heard a crack and felt the stretcher lift. They were moving him up into the ambulance.

"No! No!" Sam cried, not sure what he was protesting. This was too much though; too overwhelming.

"Hey buddy what's your name? Can you tell me your name?" A kind yet solid voice spoke up right next to him. Sam felt the other paramedics washing his torso, arms and hands free of soot to get a better look at his injuries. Lacerations, glass shards... Nothing as serious as the smoke inhalation though. His chest was rising and falling with difficulty, stuttering as he tried his best to breathe without panicking.

Sam looked up at the guy, his eyes tearing down the sides of his cheeks, shivering with shock, young and traumatized by the fire.

The paramedic stared at Sam for a moment and softened. He came closer to Sam and leaned over him. Sam tracked him with his eyes, fearful this was yet another nightmare but hoping to god that it wasn't.

"Okay calm down, listen my name's Oliver. What's your name kiddo? Focus now," he added as Sam blinked tears and looked down at the other paramedics hovering over him, removing glass shards embedded in his skin and staunching blood flow with gauze. Sam's eyes angled back to Oliver just as Oliver lifted the oxygen mask up slightly and held his ear to Sam's cheek so he'd be able to hear Sam's hoarse, whispered response.

"Sam," he gasped. Oliver rolled with it quickly.

"Okay Sam we're heading over to the hospital-"

Sam interrupted him by waving a vague hand up to reach his sleeve. His other hand reached for the oxygen mask.

"What's up, Sam?" Oliver asked openly, repeating what he'd done before to hear Sam's words under the mask.

"D-Dean," Sam stuttered. "Call... m'broth'r..." Sam whispered, gripping Oliver's wrist loosely. Oliver nodded.

"Okay no problem Sam we'll call your brother. He live around here?" He asked, trying to keep Sam awake and engaged. Sam shook his head lightly. Oliver asked yes or no questions from there on out so Sam wouldn't try to speak.

"Okay you got his number on your cell phone?"

Sam nodded and started moving, trying to get to his back pocket.

"Hey-hey-hey stop, Sam, stop. We'll get it from you in a second, all right?" Oliver asked as he set up the hanging IV inside the ambulance. The thing rocked back and forth with the movement of the vehicle. Sam was incredibly happy they hadn't put the siren on; he already had a splitting headache.

Sam felt the neck brace leave him after he answered Oliver about how he was positive he didn't have a spinal injury: a panic attack, yes, cuts and bruises from the windows, definitely, and smoke inhalation, absolutely. But that was it.

After the brace left him, Sam felt a hand reach under him to get his phone from his back pocket. It didn't bother him; it felt clinical and Oliver appeared in his field of vision a second later with his cell phone. Sam breathed a few stop-and-go sighs of relief and reached for it.

"Hold on to this and when you're okay you can give him a call, all right?"

Sam closed his eyes, nodding.

"Little brother?" Oliver asked innocently. Sam shook his head slightly. "Ah okay your big brother, then, eh?" Oliver prompted, keeping the easy conversation simple. Sam swallowed and coughed under the mask, nodding. He realized he was sweating a lot just then, his hair sticking to his face.

"Got parents?" Oliver prompted again. Sam could be of age but then again he could not be. Sam's watery eyes fixed on Oliver and he slowly shook his head then looked away.

Sam just wanted Dean. He just... He needed Dean. He wanted the Impala - he wanted to wake up in the Impala with his brother pranking him with spoons and taking pictures or something. He wanted the smell of leather and gunpowder and the interior of the car and motel rooms and their duffles. He wanted Dean's voice and words; his assurances that Sam was safe now - that Sam could relax and feel secure and just work on getting better now, Sammy. He wanted Dean to hold his hand and steady his heartbeat, wipe his hair off his sweaty, sooty face and he wanted Dean to look at him like he always did when Sam was helpless and lost and needed someone to walk him through fear and pain...

It was always Dean. It'd always been Dean. And Sam wanted him. Now. Because they were going to pull up to the hospital soon and Sam was too unstable and scared. He needed Dean to settle him - he needed Dean to talk to the doctors, to take care of this while he held Sam's hand so Sam could slowly come to grips with reality and get over this near-death experience by the same element that had brutally taken both his mother and the love of his life.

Sam had the cell in his hand and before Oliver could see or protest, Sam flipped it open and pressed Dean's speed dial.

"Hey-oh, Sam-" Oliver sputtered but Sam had already put the phone up to his ear and Oliver didn't have the heart to pull it away from him.

"Sammy," Dean's rough voice came out loud and clear. Before Sam could even try to speak, Dean continued, "Sammy I know exactly where you are. I'm following your ambulance right now, kiddo," he said, making Sam's lips tremble, the relief flooding through him releasing emotions that flooded his eyes with tears again. "Just hold tight when you get out I'll be right there, you understand?"

Sam pursed his lips together to keep from crying. He nodded against the phone and a tear streaked down his cheek, then another. He weakly pawed at the oxygen mask and with a frustrated sigh, Oliver lifted it up briefly to allow the cell phone's receiver near Sam's mouth.

"Y-yeah, D," Sam choked out, his voice shaking with emotion. Another tear brimmed then rolled down his face. Sam sniffed and felt Oliver rub a wipe down his cheeks to get the soot and, more importantly, the tear tracks off Sam's face.

"You're going to be just fine, Sammy, you're awake and we're like two seconds to the hospital, you hear me?"

"Ye-yeah," Sam said, then broke into a heavy cough.

"Breathe, Sammy, just breathe," Dean coached.

"S-sorry," Sam said, embarrassed.

"It's okay. It's okay little brother I'll see you in two seconds okay?"

"'kay," Sam gasped, trying to swallow. The phone went dead and Sam suddenly felt lost again; alone in an uncertain, dangerous environment... After having nearly died by getting burnt alive... The same way his mother and Jess died...

Sam gagged again at the thought and tried to sit up a little bit more.

"All right, take it easy, Sam," Oliver murmured, grasping Sam's wrist. Sam didn't like it but he didn't want to be rude. "We're pulling up... right..." Sam felt a bump under the tires, "now," Oliver finished, jumping up and letting go over Sam's wrist as the ambulance prepped for the back doors to open. The ambulance jerked to a stop and Sam gasped as he heard the back doors creak open loudly and the sounds of people - doctors, nurses, paramedics, etcetera all busy speaking and ordering... Sam blinked at the bright lights flooding into the ambulance.

Sam felt a jolt under him on the stretcher and realized they were already moving him out. Sam, eyes wide with anxiety and fear, looked to Oliver. Sam was wearing an oxygen mask that covered most of his face but Oliver could not mistake Sam's frightened eyes for what they were.

"It's okay, Sam, c'mon," Oliver murmured, confused why Sam seemed to be so worried about the hospital.

Sam writhed on the stretcher briefly as they moved him out, trying to get comfortable and maybe get a better view of his surroundings. Where was Dean?

As he was loaded out of the ambulance, Sam repeated the question over and over again: where's Dean where's Dean Dean Dean please please, Dean, where are you? Sam begged for him, hoping he'd catch sight of the brother that had never died, always seemed larger than life, always kept him protected, safe... loved. Dean could help him feel okay; could help him get over this verge-of-panic-attack feeling he'd had ever since the fire.

Sam lifted himself up a little bit on the gurney to get a view of the parking lot beyond. No sign of the Impala. Sam's breathing stuttered to a halted gasp just as the rollers did because a voice suddenly erupted out from behind him.

"Sammy-!" Dean's voice sounded out and Sam felt Dean's hand pull him around.

Recognizing his big brother's voice and touch, Sam swerved around and threw himself against Dean, the oxygen mask digging into his face but he didn't care as he clutched to Dean, thanking god that Dean wasn't dead; that Dean hadn't ever died in a fire; that Dean was here and alive and warm and didn't smell like ash and death and trauma.

"Whoa-whoa shit, Sam, what'd they do to you in the ambulance?" Dean joked gently, serious concern betraying the quip as he moved his hand to cup the back of Sam's head. He rubbed Sam around the shoulders and back as Sam's arms reached for more of Dean around his waist. Dean ducked his head down and to the side to reach Sam's ear.

"You're okay, Sammy, you're okay. It's over. It's all over," he comforted. Sam realized he was crying again and wrapped his arms around Dean tighter. "The fire's out. You're okay. I'm right here; right here, little brother, nothing's going to happen to you. I got ya," Dean continued softly. Dean's words were relief and exhaustion and Big Brother was here. Right here. And Sam could be a kid again and just bury himself against him for a second and Dean wouldn't do anything because Dean loved him; would tolerate anything from him; would just cover him more, keep Sam close to him until he was okay to get himself back together and face things alone...

Because that was Dean's job.

Writer's Note: Thank you so much for reading! Please leave a comment/review if you can spare the time! ~ Alex