Setting: Season 2 after Crossroad Blues (2x08) and before Croatoan (2x09).
Everything had been fine.
Well, as fine as things could be for the Winchesters.
The Impala was as good as new, Dean had repaired both the damage from the accident and the damage he had personally inflicted upon it.
Dean was slowly becoming more himself. Less angry, but still far too reserved for Sam's liking.
His older brother continued to throw himself into hunts too aggressively. They no longer took time out to have some fun or just relax a little between gigs.
They had, however, started bantering like they used to, but Sam could tell that Dean's heart wasn't really in it.
Any discussion the younger hunter attempted to start that contained the least bit of depth or emotion, was shut down instantly by his older brother.
Sam also couldn't shake the feeling that Dean was hiding more than his grief from him.
So, maybe things weren't fine.
But they had been getting better.
And at least the hunt had gone as planned.
That was until Sam stepped directly into a trap...literally.
They had been hunting with Bobby in a wooded area about three hours north of Sioux Falls. All three of them were making the trek back to the car after having just wasted a Bakeneko, (a shape-shifting cat that had decided to wreak havoc on all the woodland creatures as well as the few campers that attempted to take a vacation in the woods).
Sam could sense his older brother coming down from the high of the hunt as they wearily trudged through the trees. The youngest hunter's thoughts were focused on Dean and how the hell he would ever be able to help him through the loss of their father.
Dean had helped him through Jess' death. Dean had always been his rock.
Sam wanted nothing more than to be the same for his older brother, but he had no idea how to go about it. Everything he tried only shut Dean down even more. Sam tried to do all the things his brother had always done to help him get through emotional agony, but none of it worked.
Sam released a frustrated huff, shaking his head in frustration with himself, as he followed the other hunters back towards the clearing.
That was one he heard it.
A metallic click, was all the warning Sam was granted, giving him enough time to release a single word before the pain hit.
"Dean!" It came out as a gasp as the young man realized exactly what he had just put his foot in.
His brother must have recognized the startled tone, because he turned immediately, just in time to see Sam's face crumple as he let out a strangled scream and dropped gracelessly to the ground.
The white hot pain consumed Sam's body and threw his world out of focus.
He was pulled back into reality by the familiar touch holding onto him, the calloused hands steadying him as he trembled in agony.
"It's alright Sam. I got you." The gruff promise was all Sam needed, and he immediately latched onto it.
"Dean." He croaked, reaching out blindly, his fingers searching until they were found and locked in a firm grip.
"Right here Sammy. I'm right here."
Even amidst the pain, Sam registered the childhood nickname and nearly smiled at its return -it's appearances having been rare since his father's demise- but the joy of the moment was quickly stolen away by the crippling agony tearing through his right leg.
"Dean, my leg." He ground out through clenched teeth.
"I know buddy. We are going to take care of it."
The arms wrapped around Sam's chest tensed, holding him tighter as another set of hands cautiously manoeuvred the injured limb.
"Gaah!" The garbled cry was released before the injured man had a chance to bite it back.
"Breathe through it Sam. Breathe through it."
Sam fought to obey, as he sucked in a deep, stuttering inhale.
"That's it, just keep it together a little longer."
His brother's encouragement was the only thing that kept Sam from exhaling without a sob.
"I've got to take a better look at this. You're going to have to hold him steady."
The older hunter's warning was lost in the fog of Sam's mind, but he didn't miss the way Dean slipped in behind him and held him securely against his chest.
"I've got him."
Sam heard his brother's brisk reassurance muttered directly into his ear and every muscle in his body immediately tensed in preparation for what he feared was coming.
"No don't." Sam gasped out, just as he felt his leg being straightened and examined.
"Fuuuck." He cried out, his head slamming against his brother's collar bone and back arching as he fought to escape, to get away from the hands that were touching and prodding the injury, making everything so much worse.
"I know buddy. I know. Just try to keep still."
Sam registered his brother's pleading request, but his body refused to cooperate as it continued to shutter in reaction to the pain searing through it.
The injured man grit his teeth together, to keep from crying out again, his jaw was clenched so hard it felt as if the bone would snap.
"How's it look Bobby?"
The question sailed over Sam's head as he gripped his brother's pant leg and tried his best to subdue his 'fight or flight' response.
"Well, it ain't pretty." The hunter grumbled, finally releasing the bloodied limb.
"Can you get it off him?"
Sam perked up at that, more than eager to rid of the metal teeth currently trying to bite straight through his leg.
"No way is this thing coming off." Bobby declared definitively.
"I've got tools in the Impala-
"Getting it open isn't the problem."
"Well then what-
"I don't know how deep those claws are. I don't think they've broken through the bone just yet, but if we remove them, we could be taking a chunk of the kid's leg with them."
A shiver racked Sam's long frame, he wasn't sure if it was a result of the words that had just been spoken, the pain, or the cold he could feel seeping into his clothes from the snow below him.
He supposed it didn't really matter.
"Even if we can take it off and keep his leg in one piece, Sam could bleed out on the three hour trip to the nearest hospital. We need to leave the trap on him, or else we could be doing permanent damage to your brother."
Sam could feel Dean's muscles tense in response to the comment, and while he wanted to offer some sort of reassurance to ease his brother's fears, he knew that opening his mouth would only allow for the cries built up in his throat to run free.
"Then we have to call 911." Dean concluded, taking control and putting his fear in the backseat like he always did.
Sam was often annoyed by his brother's no-fear attitude, but at that particular moment in time, he was more than fine with the way Dean handled things.
"I ain't getting any reception. You?"
Sam's upper-body was lightly jostled before he heard Dean's reply.
He felt fingers slide into his jean pocket and his cell phone being removed.
"Sam's not getting anything either." Dean bit out, his tone sounding angry, but touch gentle as he wrapped both his arms across Sam's chest.
Bobby cursed as he stood from where he had been crouched, finally coming into Sam's view.
The older hunter looked pissed, but the lines on his face clearly displayed his concern. Sam swallowed sickly seeing the blood coding Bobby's hands and knowing its source.
Sam couldn't see his brother, as he was situated at his back, but he watched as Bobby stared intently over his head and he knew the two were having a silent conversation.
Normally being left out of a discussion, specifically one that had to do with him, would have pissed Sam off, but at that moment he was in far too much pain to give a shit about other people making decisions for him.
"I'll head back, if I can't get any cell service at the car, I'll take my truck and drive into town."
Sam felt his brother's chin momentarily brush against his hair, and figured Dean must have been nodding along with the plan.
"It'll take me about two hours to get back to the clearing and then maybe another hour to make it into town. I'll call for help the moment I can. You just stay here. Keep him warm and awake."
"I can take care of Sam, Bobby. You just get the medics out here as soon as you can." Dean replied, exhuming all the certainty and control that their father always had.
Sam winced at the memory of John, but was quickly brought back to the present as another shiver caused his leg to shift and escalated his pain to a nearly unbearable level.
This time, the youngest hunter was unable to prevent the release of a guttural gasp, as he tried to twist away from the agony.
"No. No, Sam. Stay still. You're only going to make it worse buddy, you've got to stay still."
Sam reluctantly followed his brother's orders and rested limply against Dean's chest.
"I'm going to get moving. Be back as soon as I can." Bobby stated. Sam met his gaze and tried for a smile, hoping to ease some of his surrogate uncle's worry.
Bobby nodded down at him, before glancing behind him, presumably to Dean.
Sam watched as Bobby slid off his coat and relinquished it to the hand that reached around Sam's shoulders, before he took off, jogging out of sight.
"What's that for?" He questioned, the inquiry coming out hoarse as struggled to rid the evidence of pain from his voice.
"You." Dean responded simply as he laid the jacket over Sam's upper body, tucking it around him.
"I already have one." Sam pointed out.
"I know, but your cold."
"But now Bobby will be cold." He said, trying to form clear thoughts through his clouded mind.
"Not if he's jogging all the way back to the car. That man will be sweating like a pig in not time." Dean huffed, readjusting so that he was leaning back against the tree with Sam situated between his legs, and propped up against his chest.
Sam had one hand white-knuckling Dean's pant leg, just above the knee, as his other hand gripped his own pant leg in a pathetic effort to keep his injured limb from moving.
They sat in silence, Sam wanting to start up a conversation for the sole purpose of distraction, but unsure of what to talk about.
Communication really hadn't been their thing as of late.
After Jess died, Dean had never passed on any oppourtunity to get Sam to open up, to get him talking. But ever since Dad, Dean had vehemently shut down any of Sam's attempts at a meaningful conversation.
Mind you, that hadn't kept Sam from trying, but anytime they did seem to have a dialogue that contained any degree of depth, it never ended well. His first attempt at a heart-felt discussion resulted in Dean trashing the Impala, the time after that his brother decked him in the face, and then when Dean finally opened up, he crumbled to pieces right in front of Sam, who had no idea how to put the older boy back together again.
Regardless of their apparent inability to share their feelings without horrible repercussions, Sam had thought that they were healing, and that things were getting better.
That was until a week ago, when in the process of getting a man out of his deal, Dean seriously considered trading his life to a demon.
When Sam found out how close his brother had become to giving up his own soul, he abandoned all notions of them being alright and things getting better.
Needless to say, conversation didn't seem to come as easily as it once had to the Winchester Brothers, so Sam decided that silence would probably be best, if only to keep from causing his brother further emotional distress.
After awhile, Sam found his exhaustion growing, part of him knew that wasn't a good thing, but the other part of him latched on to the pleasant idea of sleep and the chance of escaping the constant anguish pulsing through his leg.
He must have momentarily drifted off, because Sam woke to his brother gently, but firmly, patting his cheek.
"That's it Sammy, open your eyes."
His head had been turned, so it was resting on it's side on Dean's shoulder, giving Sam the ability to stare up at his brother who was looking down at him.
"You've got to stay awake." He ordered sternly.
Sam frowned, the fog in his mind making it difficult to remember exactly what was going on.
"My leg hurts." He whined, barely noticing the petulant inflection in his voice as he registered the constant thrum of pain.
"Yeah well, that's what happens when you manage to step right into a claw trap." Dean explained with an exasperated snort. "You're lucky. By the size of it, it looks like someone was trying to catch a wolf. If they had been hunting for a bear...well let's just say you wouldn't be the tallest brother anymore."
Sam was tempted to roll his eyes at Dean's lame attempt at humour, but the memory of the degree of agony he had felt the moment those metal teeth snapped around him, made him flinch.
"Easy buddy. You're fine. You're going to be okay." Dean promised, his arms returning to lock around Sam's chest again.
"Why's it so cold?" The younger man asked, pressing back against his brother, in hopes of absorbing more heat.
"You're losing blood and laying in the snow, why do you think it's cold, dumbass?" Dean quipped, with no real bite in his words.
Sam released a frustrated huff as he fought against his body's desire to shiver.
The injured hunter whined mournfully as he was pushed up off his brother's chest and deprived of the small degree of warmth.
"Just try to sit up and give me a second, Sam." Dean requested softly, patting his brother comfortingly on the chest before unwinding his arms.
Sam fought to sit without support and without jostling his trapped limb. Now that he had better posture he was able to see his leg. He cringed at the sight of it. The limb was twisted at an unnatural angle and coded in blood, the snow all around it was also shaded red. His once brown shoe was now more of a maroon colour and the metal around his leg was coded in the bright liquid as well. Sam's jeans prevented him from seeing the actual injury, but he could easily spot the trap protruding from his legs, and new that it's metallic teeth were inside of him.
Just as Sam was about to lean forward to get a better look, and acquire an idea as to just how bad off he was, a cool calloused hand covered his eyes.
"That's enough, Sam. You don't need to see it." Dean said as he gently tugged the long body down to rest back against his chest.
The stubborn side of they younger man wanted to resist, wanted to know exactly what was going on, but the hurting side - the side that always seemed to resort to his childhood instincts- trusted his big brother to take care of him and know what was right.
Sam felt his long arms being thread through the sleeves of a familiar leather jacket, as Bobby's coat was moved down and wrapped cautiously around his waist and legs.
"Dean, your going to get cold." He announced, clumsily trying to smack his brother's hand's away as they headed for the zipper.
"I'll be fine, Sam. I'm not the one losing blood." Dean declared darkly.
"But you're sitting in snow and it's late, so it's only going to get colder." Sam argued.
"I've still got lots of layers on, little brother. I will be alright."
Sam released a put-upon sigh, but allowed Dean to zip the jacket up around him.
He would be lying if he said he didn't revel in the warmth of the added layer of clothing.
The end to the shivering allowed the younger man's body to relax, his head dropping back to rest against his brother, as he soon found his eyelids drooping, sleep pulling at him.
"Hey! None of that." Dean shouted, almost directly into Sam's ear.
"I'm tired." Sam pouted, struggling to shift his head further from Dean's, but the older man wouldn't allow it, his hand sliding into Sam's hair and pressing him back against his collarbone.
"I know dude, but you've got to stay awake. I don't need you going hypothermic on me, you can't let your body shut down."
The logical part of Sam's brain recalled that information and forced his eyes to remain open, but the injured man still had trouble finding something other than pain and exhaustion to focus on.
Dean must have noticed as much, because he soon began to speak.
"Hey, you remember that time we were in Florida somewhere, and it was disgustingly hot out, and the motel air conditioner was busted, so Dad took us to the community pool to do our training?"
Sam thought back. There had been a lot of motels and a lot of broken air conditioners in his childhood, but only a handful of community swimming pools.
"Yeah, I think so. What was I in grade five or something?" He questioned, searching for a clearer picture.
"Four." Dean corrected without as second of consideration.
"Yeah, we were the only kids in the pool swimming laps." Sam recalled.
"And then that one kid peed in the pool, so the lifegaurd announced that everyone had to get out, but you wouldn't."
Sam chuckled softly at the memory, even as a little kid he had been rebellious.
"Dad had to come in after me." He remembered.
"Yup, the second he jumped in the pool you started swimming the opposite direction. It took him almost ten minutes to finally catch up to you and get you out."
"What can I say? I was a fast swimmer."
"You always loved the water, you were practically a fish."
Sam didn't miss the fond tone in his brother's voice.
"Dad tried so hard to be mad at you, but you couldn't stop laughing at him standing in his jeans and t-shirt, sopping wet. Eventually he gave up and started laughing with you." Dean stated reflectively.
Sam smiled sadly at the memory of their father.
His grin fading as another shiver shook his frame and caused his leg to flare in pain.
He cursed, instinctively pressing back closer against his brother, desperate to stop the tremors caused by the cold.
Dean's arms tightened around him, his hands rubbing Sam's chest to generate warmth.
"Figures it would take me dying for us to talk about Dad." Sam mused, instantly regretting the comment as he felt his brother's body go stiff.
"You're not dying, Sam. Stop being such a fucking drama queen." He snapped.
Sam paid no mind to the insult, knowing his brother well enough to hear the fear that lay beneath his anger.
He understood it, it wasn't like the possibility of being the last Winchester standing hadn't haunted his thoughts before.
The silence settled over the two of them, but it was far from peaceful, Sam could almost hear the wheels turning in his brother's head, and if Dean was as attune to Sam now as he normally was, he could probably hear the same.
Sam's leg gave a scream of protest as he attempted to shift so he could better see his brother.
"Woah, what the hell you trying to do? You're going to make it worse." Dean scolded, stilling the younger man's movements with one hand splayed across his chest and the other across his stomach.
Sam choked back a grown as he settled back against his brother, tilting his head so his forehead was pressing against Dean's neck and he was able to see at least part of his face.
"He didn't do it just for you." Sam croaked out, cursing the weak timbre of his voice.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Dean asked, his worried eyes coming to meet his brother's hazel gaze.
Sam forced his eyes to focus on Dean, so that his brother could see their clarity and know that the thought's he was about to share were well-formed.
"Dad. If he made a deal. It wasn't just for you."
The older man's expression hardened at the statement and he turned his face forward again, avoiding Sam's stare.
"Don't be an idiot, Sam. You know it was for me." He grunted.
Sam shivered as the cold penetrated his skin, and he fought to keep his teeth from chattering as he spoke again. Despited Dean's evasive behaviour, his grip tightened around Sam's upper-body, as he did what he could to keep him warm.
"Dad knew that if you died it would wreck me. Dean, he knew that the only way to save both his sons was to find a way to keep you alive. So whatever he did, he did it to save both of us, not just you."
From his position against his brother, Sam could see Dean's jaw working as he tried to swallow - what Sam assumed to be- his rising emotions.
"I miss Dad. I loved him and I miss him a lot." Sam clenched his teeth as his voice cracked, his grip on Dean's jeans hardening as he worked to collect himself before he finished.
"But I wouldn't change anything. I wouldn't trade you to have him back. I don't care if that makes me a horrible son, but I wouldn't do it." The tears were streaming unabashedly down Sam's face now, but he didn't have the energy to stop them.
He closed his eyes and allowed the grief to wash over him, only opening them again at the feel of his brother thumbing his tears away.
"That doesn't make you a horrible son, Sam." Was Dean's only response as he wiped Sam's face free of moisture and let his chin rest in his brother's long hair for a moment.
There was more silence, this round a little less tense than the last, but Sam still had things to say.
Something had been nagging at him since he had found out what Dean considered doing when they saved that guy from his deal last week.
He knew any attempt to broach the topic would only result in a rise of Dean's anger, but he couldn't let it go, especially not if he did end up bleeding out in the snow-covered forest.
"And I know it hurts, Dean, but you can't give up."
He could feel every one of his brother's muscles coil in reaction to his comment, but Dean's grip on him never wavered, he didn't push Sam away even in the slightest.
"I know what you wanted to do with that demon. That you wanted to make a deal." Saying the word's did nothing to release the weight of them, and Sam felt himself choking up at the mere thought of being in the world without his brother.
"Don't do this Sam." Dean warned steadily.
"No, I can't ignore it. I know you feel guilty about what happened, but you can't just give up like that. What would Dad have thought?"
Sam regretted the quiet question as Dean flinched, but he pushed on.
"And what would I have...if you had...I couldn't have...shit, Dean." Sam croaked miserably, despair stealing his voice as he ducked his head and pressed it into Dean's chest, shutting his eyes, trying to hide from the fear of what could have happened.
Dean's switch from defensive to comforting was instantaneous, and he felt a hand slide under his hair onto the back of his neck and squeeze softly.
Sam cracked open his eyes open as his brother angled his face up. Dean's green gaze finally locked onto his, and he held onto it as though it was all he had.
"I didn't make a deal." Dean stated.
"I thought about it, okay?"
Sam cringed, he had known it was true but Dean's confession was confirmation to his worst nightmare.
"Dad...what he did. It messed me up, alright? It was messing with my head, and all I could think about was finding a way to make it right again."
Sam nodded, knowing how his brother would have such a desire, and seeing the need in Dean's eyes for him to understand.
"I wasn't..." Dean faded off, his face becoming hard with anger, an anger Sam knew he was directing towards himself.
"I wasn't thinking about you." He finished gruffly, combing shaky fingers through Sam's hair in silent apology.
The younger man absorbed the truth in his brother's eyes and the honest pain in his tone. Sam released the grip he had on his own pant leg and slowly dragged his hand up his body until he found his brother's fingers on his chest, he traced the calloused skin until he reached Dean's wrist, and wrapped his long fingers around it, holding on tight.
"I'm not leaving you, Sammy." The promise was soft, but sure.
The relief that ran through Sam was nearly palpable. Relief that his brother had no intention of leaving him behind, that his brother knew how much Sam needed him, and that he didn't resent him for it.
Sam huffed a surprised chuckle.
Dean's face screwed up, his watery gaze clearing as a question formed on his expression.
"That's probably the first time." Sam croaked.
"For what?" Dean inquired, eyebrows rising.
"The fist time you weren't thinking about me." Sam said with a smirk. He had always known full well, that through his entire life Dean had always been thinking of him, had always been putting him first, even while they had been apart.
Dean snorted, shaking his head in exasperation.
"Yeah, it probably was." He admitted, then he grew more serious. "It was the first, and the last time, Sam. I swear."
The younger brother rolled his eyes.
"I'm not a kid anymore Dean, you don't always have to be looking out for me. Just don't...don't leave me. Alright?"
The sheer vulnerability was almost too much for Sam, a man who had always strived for independence, but he didn't care, because he needed Dean more than anything and he wanted his brother to see that.
"I won't, little brother, I swear to God I won't."
Sam nodded, knowing the truth when he heard it. Usually, he would have required no such reassurance, but since their Dad had passed, Dean had become so withdrawn and desperate that Sam started to question the things he thought he always knew about his big brother.
But more than anyone, Sam knew how some people could lose themselves in grief. Dad had after Mom, and if he hadn't had Dean, Sam knew that he would have after Jessica. Now it was Sam's turn to do for Dean what he had done for him, just over a year ago. Sam would keep his brother from losing himself, if only by reminding him how much he meant, how much he was needed, and how much he mattered to his little brother.
An almost unrecognizable satisfaction came over Sam, and he felt his body and mind relaxing, no longer held captive by the fear of losing Dean.
Although the shivers caused Sam further agony, the cold wasn't all bad, the snow was actually doing a great job of numbing his wounded leg. He felt himself drifting again, the darkness that was pulling at him was a tempting escape from the frigid temperature.
"Hey now, just because we had the chick-flick moment you wanted, doesn't give you the right to go to sleep." Dean reminded him, twitching his shoulder to thump Sam's head and wake him up.
The younger man groaned in displeasure.
"Come on buddy, you've got to keep your eyes open."
Sam obeyed, cracking his eyelids.
"I'm tired De." He sighed.
"I know you are, but you can't sleep. Not yet. What else do you want to talk about?"
Normally, Sam would have jumped at the offer to start up any conversation he desired, but at that moment his mind was too foggy to even think of something.
"Alright fine, then we will do it my way." Dean declared after hearing no response.
Sam squinted in confusion, waiting to find out exactly what his brother's "way" involved.
"Rising up, back on the street. Did my time, took my chances."
Sam snorted at the song. His brother was often singing or humming something, but music had never really been Sam's forte.
"Come on Sam, you don't want to talk, we are going to sing. And don't pretend you don't know the words, because you've heard this song hundreds of times."
"I'm not singing with you." Sam said, sounding far more petulant than he had intended to.
"Yeah, you damn well are. What's the next line?" His brother asked, jostling him lightly, likely his attempt to make Sam more alert.
Sam remained stubbornly silent, his eyelids at half-mast, as Dean held him impossibly tight.
Those two simple words, and the pleading tone in which they were whispered, woke Sam up more than any chick-flick moment or jostling movement ever could.
He dragged in a long breath, wincing as his injured leg twitched without permission.
"Went the distance, now I'm back on my feet." The words were more spoken than sung, maintaining a melody had never been one of Sam's strengths; but he would try nonetheless. He would always try for Dean.
"Just a man and his will to survive." Both brothers sang together.
"That's my boy." Dean praised.
Sam couldn't help the smile. He loved his Dad, and living without him hurt like hell, but he never had any doubts as to who really raised him. He had been, and always would be, Dean's kid.
Sam couldn't be sure if they finished the song or not, but he must have drifted off at one point, because he was startled to consciousness by the feel of unfamiliar hands roaming his body.
"Dean." He gasped, his skin feeling downright frigid as his leg sent searing pains throughout him in protest to being moved.
There was no longer a warm body at his back, a chin resting a top his head, or strong arms holding him close.
"Dean!" He cried out louder this time, peeling his eyes open to see unfamiliar faces as he was held firmly still.
He was about to go into full-blown panic mode when he heard the voice he had always been attuned to.
"Right here Sammy, I'm right here."
Before Sam had time to figure out where the voice was coming from, a hand grasped tightly onto his searching one.
"Right here buddy. You're going to be fine. Just let the paramedics help you so we can get to the hospital and get that leg of yours all fixed up."
The words turned to jargon in his head, but Sam recognized the tone and the touch as his brother, and he knew as long as Dean was there, he needn't panic.
He turned his head to stare intently into worried green eyes, just as he was about to tell the concerned man that he was okay, his leg was twisted and agony flowed through his veins.
A scream was torn from his lips, right before the world went blessedly dark.
The first thing Sam registered was the feel of a finger lightly tracing - what he thought to be- protective sigils on his palm. Next came the quite humming of a familiar tune, followed by the gentle grip just under his elbow. The mechanical beeping came soon after, and then Sam noticed a light throbbing pain radiating up his right leg.
It was all those sounds and feelings mixed together that caused the younger man to remember all of what had occurred. The hunt, the claw trap, the searing agony, the comforting hold, the chick-flick moment, and his brother's desperate attempt to keep him conscious.
"Eye Of The Tiger. Really?"
The humming came to an abrupt end, as did the aimless finger-drawing, but the fingers encircling his arm tightened.
Sam forced his eyelids open, knowing from their reluctance to move that he must have been on some pretty heavy meds.
Dean's freckled face came quickly into focus, as the piercing green eyes assessed him. Apparently their findings must have been satisfactory, because the worry lines of his brother's face eased as a playful smile pulled at his lips.
"It's a fighter's song, and I needed you to fight." He reasoned.
"Yeah, sorry about that. I didn't mean to fall asleep."
"Shut up, Sam. It wasn't your fault. You'd lost a lot of blood and you were hypothermic. You stayed awake long enough." Dean assured him, patting Sam gently on the chest before dropping back down into the chair he had pulled next to the hospital bed.
Sam raised his head to get a glimpse of his leg, but it was covered with the blanket.
"It's still there." Dean commented, his joking tone infected with a hint of gravity.
"Not broken?" Sam rasped, dropping his head back against the pillow, and angling it in his brother's direction, shivering slightly.
"No, apparently all that milk you're always drinking finally came in handy." Dean quipped, at Sam's lack of amusement, he continued more seriously. "The metal teeth on the one side dug right through but stopped once they hit your bone, the ones on the other side didn't go quite as deep. You will need crutches and then a cane for a little while, and maybe some physical therapy, but your leg will heal. You were hypothermic, but your body temp is levelling out nicely, and you lost a lot of blood, but you're being topped up." Dean recited as he nodded toward the bag of red liquid hanging form the IV pole.
"Bobby?" Sam inquired.
"Took his tow-truck out to go pick up the Impala." Dean responded.
Sam's eyebrows rose in surprise.
"You're going to let him tow it?"
"I didn't have much of a choice, You wouldn't let go of my hand so I was forced to join you in the ambulance ride over here, princess." Dean explained with a mocking grin.
"You could have gone with him once we got here." Sam suggested.
"And leave you alone? Not for a second, dude. Heaven knows what kind of trouble you'd get yourself into without me around." The lightness of his voice, did nothing to take away from the knowing look Dean gave his little brother.
Sam nodded tiredly, trying to absorb the information through the drugged-up, exhausted haze in his mind.
"You alright?" He whispered to Dean, forcing his eyelids open wider, trying to fight off the pull of sleep.
"Yeah buddy, I'm fine."
Sam squinted at his brother, trying to assess if Dean was indeed okay. He looked tired, and had his jacket snuggly wrapped around himself, but there was no physical injury and his gaze seemed to be a little less haunted. His face was lined with concern as well as a fraction of sadness, but no longer riddled with grief the way it had been.
"Stop trying to read me, Sam, I'm not a book." Dean admonished softly, playfully smacking the younger man's shoulder.
"You'd be surprised." Sam mumbled with a small smile, trying to keep his eyelids from falling closed again.
"Pfft. Whatever man." His older brother snorted with a shake of his head.
They sat in silence, and this time it was welcomed. Neither of them were tense or silently suffering any longer, they were just quiet and content.
Sam felt the pull of exhaustion, and did his best to fight it off as he stared steadily at his brother.
Dean let it go on for a little, allowed Sam to take in the reassurance and the comfort of his presence, before he put an end to it.
"Stop fighting it Sam." He ordered gently.
Sam released a hoarse bark of laughter.
"You were just doing everything possible to keep me awake, and now you're telling me to go to sleep. Talk about mixed messages." The words came out more jumbled and stuttered than he would have liked, but he knew Dean got the message when his eyes lit up and he chuckled.
"Stop being a smart-ass and go to sleep." Dean instructed, grinning as he placed a finger on each of Sam's eyelids and carefully pushed them closed.
Sam let his dimples show with a smile, but willing relaxed back into the bed, feeling not only his body, but his heart warm as Dean pulled the blankets up further around him.
Sam forced his eyes open one more time, out of sheer stubbornness and stared at his brother.
"I'm glad you're here Dean." He croaked out honestly, just catching a glimpse of his brother's widening eyes as he closed his own.
It was quiet for a moment, Sam drifting into unconsciousness, but before he deserted reality entirely, he heard his brother's gravelly voice the same time he felt warm fingers combing his bangs off his face.
"I always will be, little brother. I'm never leaving you, Sammy."
The gruff promise was all Sam needed to allow himself to completely surrender to exhaustion.
Maybe he couldn't help Dean deal with his grief the same way he helped Sam.
But he could fight to keep his brother from losing himself, by reminding him who he was.
He was a damn good hunter.
He had a shitty taste in music.
He loved his car.
And he was a big brother.
The best big brother there ever was.
The way Sam figured it, if Dean could be his anchor, than he could be Dean's.
They could keep each other from getting lost in the darkness of the world of the all-encompassing grief that came with losing someone you loved.
Because as long as they had each other, they could handle anything that came their way.
Note: So I tried a new point of view and would love to know what you think! Please leave a comment/review if you have a second. Thanks for reading! - Sam